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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Review

Ah yes, the kart game, there comes a point where a series of games manages to gather enough characters to create a go-kart style racing event across a series of themed levels. Ever since Mario kicked it all off there has been many attempts to rival the portly plumbers exploits, classics like Crash Bandicoot Racing were favourites and this year there has been another flurry of go-kart racing wannabes with LittleBigPlanet Racing and F1 Superstars. Bringing up the rear on this kart release frenzy has SEGA's own Sonic and pals returning for another dose of high speed action and just because it was last out of the gates does not mean you should ignore this game.

With a who's who of the SEGA world, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed gives you the chance to play as a selection of greats with the likes of Sonic, Amy, Tails and Shadow alongside Beat, Ulala and Danica Patrick (no....me either!); each with their own stylised racing vehicle, Sonic in a classic racer, Knuckles rides around on a trike, Shadow in a tank B.D.Joe in his taxi, Ulala in a Sinclair C5 looking futuristic racing pod, Amigo in a train and Beat driving around in a quad bike.

Since kart games have been around a while most of the newer releases need some sort of gimmick to hook you in and though it seems SEGA have all but copied Mario on the new Transformation ability it is actually a lot more original than initially thought. Though the idea is exactly the same as the recent Mario Kart 7 it has been expanded upon greatly, removing the simple glider and making it a jet, the submarine now a high speed powerboat. The vehicles automatically transform when entering water or trying to span an empty space and play just like the road mode with drifting, boosts and power-ups to use to your advantage.

The transformation in the title does not just refer to the vehicles but the tracks themselves; mainly starting off as a road race events occur throughout that morph the track into something completely different, like where a dragon from Panzer Dragoon destroys part of the track, resulting in future laps being forced onto water. Each lap is totally different from the last, ensuring that short cuts are difficult enough not to be just "the way" and plenty of environmental hazards to keep you on your toes through the races.

For a second outing this feels a lot more solid than the previous game, with tighter controls making it even easier to pull off drifts that shave seconds from your lap times. The overall racing is great fun, though it feels a little power-up heavy with skill giving you the edge only to be shot to pieces from whoever is behind you. Though there is no slipstream system to make takeovers easier there are plenty of additional ways to keep in front with a trick system that grants you a small boost when transforming or coming out of jump but even with this, if you are having the perfect race there will always be an opponent close behind and though not really the cheating speed ups of games of old it is still a little annoying, but it does keep the races exciting.

Just like any other kart game weapons are collected by driving over item drops that are littered all over the tracks. There is a decent selection of defensive and offensive weapons available with each having multiple uses; most can be fired forwards or backwards like the blowfish, whirlwinds or fireworks whilst others have more uses like ice shots that can be charged up for a power shot, a baseball glove that not only protects you from attack but can also catch, absorb and reuse the projectile and a speed boost Hot Rod power-up that gives you super speed or a brief period, detach before it overheats and you create a small explosion that surrounds you, keep it on or too long and it will blow you up. There is even a weapon that seeks out whoever is in first place, however unlike the infuriating blue shell from Mario, the bee bombs are avoidable, requiring sharp reflexes to drive between the horde of ferocious bees blocking the road.

It's not just the characters that SEGA have use for this game as even the courses are heavily inspired by classic games, with obvious nods to Sonic games with their loops and banked corners but later levels are just as great, throwing you deep into the lava filled bowels of Adders Lair from Golden Axe, the warped visuals from Nights, driving on skyscraper rooftops from Jet Set Radio, a thrilling race through a huge flotilla of ships, taking to the skies and water in an After Burner level to a track which seems to be inspired by Mario's Rainbow Road and Star Wars with a road creating itself only a few meters in front of you, taking you through a huge space fleet before shrugging you off and launching you into an asteroid field; there is so much eye candy on offer it does get hard to keep track of your own vehicle.

At this point I must say the graphics are just fantastic and are some of the best I have witnessed on the PS3, with both the characters and courses bursting from the screen in a colourful arcade style presentation, the speed of the game never letting up no matter what appears on screen, this game is an absolute joy to watch and play.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is jammed full of modes that you expect from kart games, plus a little SEGA magic added to the mix to make this one of the better kart games on the market. Alongside the usual single race, Time Attack and Grand Prix modes there is the World Tour mode, a huge career mode in which you need to earn stars to unlock more courses and characters. Each mission has three difficulties, easy medium and hard, with each earning one, two or three stars respectively. Across these missions you are taken to the many worlds and tracks, each with a variety of challenges to complete like simple races, Vs modes, checkpoint and drift challenges, battle modes in where you have to destroy all opponents on the course, Traffic Attack where you have to dodge though busy traffic to reach checkpoints and even a Pursuit mode where you have to destroy a huge tank whilst dodging its own offensive rockets and mines. Each of these modes offer an even mix of land, air as sea races but some focus just on one, like a whole level flying above and under a world based on Skies of Arcadia.

Across each mode you will gradually earn mods for each racer and whilst not visual, (the only customisation is unlocking stickers for your licence) they make a great difference to your chosen characters abilities. Each character is separately upgradable, ranking up higher the more you play as them and earning mods like adjusting stats for better boosts, faster acceleration, a higher top speed or even the strange Console Mod, just what does the Genesis Mod do?

With a satisfying single player that will take some time to complete you also have a solid online multiplayer mode, allowing for you to create or join in with some online race action. The matchmaking system is very easy to use, allowing you to join single races or specific race styles like Battle Arena, Battle Races, Capture the Chao and a Boost Race which removes all power-ups, leaving you to rely on skill and boost pads to win.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is THE kart game for the PS3 and with a surprisingly low budget price it just makes this a must have purchase for kart fans jealous that Nintendo always get the good ones.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version tested: PS3)


- Some of the best graphics seen on a console
- A superb arcade kart game
- Jam packed with content, loads to do and unlock


- Power-up heavy, skill-full driving is punished too often

Edited On 16 Nov, 2012

( 21 )
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 4 years ago
Best Mario Kart game not on a Nintendo Console
Robichoico's avatar
It is on a Nintendo console however? I think there's been more talk of it on the Wii U than there has on the others lol
Robichoico 4 years ago
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Lol nice catch. I should have phrased that better but you know what i mean
Loli-Nox-Tan 4 years ago
Carl-G's avatar
Carl-G 4 years ago
"Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is THE kart game for the PS3" NOPE :D LittleBigPlanet: Karting 'IS' the Kart game for the PS3 :P LBP:K is BRILLIANT, so much FUN;)
0000000000's avatar
0000000000 4 years ago
been a sonic fan since the age of 3... so ill be getting this 1 day :D
LFC Bywater's avatar
LFC Bywater 4 years ago
I love sonic and all things sega, I'm so incredibly tempted to get this. The only thing stopping me is that i've been pretty much spending all of my time on the and the only game that would change that is Black ops. Maybe in January i will pick this up, or ask for it for christmas.
LFC Bywater's avatar
All of my time on Halo 4* (Laptops having an off day today!)
LFC Bywater 4 years ago
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Halo 4 and Dark Souls for me with a bit of Trinity Universe for good measure
Loli-Nox-Tan 4 years ago
Dead's avatar
Dead 4 years ago
I've been really enjoying this, it's a lot of fun. I've found it plays a lot more like Wipeout than your traditional kart racer though.
Barada's avatar
Sonic Riders played very much like Wipeout does. Although Riders courses were very awkward in places to get around.
Barada 4 years ago
Dead's avatar
I thought Sonic Riders was more like F Zero really, despite often getting lumped in with Wipeout they are quite different, F Zero is more about the speed, whereas Wipeout is about the power ups.
Dead 4 years ago
Anonymous user's avatar
Tyrone 4 years ago
Looks like a great game to be honest! I still feel Sega have tried to make a more "Adult" type racer instead of Mario Kart which I doubt its done right. Dont get me wrong this will appeal to a few Sega heads and children. But I really feel Sony with All Star fighting game and Sega with this are really trying to copy Nintendo and its not working for them ever!
Dead's avatar
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery as they say. It may not be Mario Kart, but it's pretty damned close and Sega have done a great job with it.
Dead 4 years ago
shiny miller's avatar
shiny miller 4 years ago
Wow, really wasn't expecting anything from this but it's getting (generally) positive reviews everywhere.
Anonymous user's avatar
lee 4 years ago
The Mario Kart comparisons only go so far, this game handles like a proper arcade racer - closer to Outrun 2 than LBPK or MK.
Wey1's avatar
Wey1 4 years ago
will look to pick this up sometime.
Shnoorum's avatar
Shnoorum 4 years ago
I loved the first one so I'm quite looking forward to this. I'm off to google Danica Patrick now
Barada's avatar
Barada 4 years ago
Only played a demo of F1 Race Stars and that could be Mario Kart - without the slides - sounds and general course traversing and all the background chatter make you wonder where Mario and the gang are! Was surprised to see this Sonic racer get such positive rate, though. 2012 - almost year of the Kart games!
Wee boy loves Sonic so will be looking to pick this up :)
Anonymous user's avatar
Lewis 4 years ago
All my friends say this game is really good, im hoping to get it someday, just for laughs though
Crunch70's avatar
Crunch70 4 years ago
This maybe a stocking filler, bought my girls LBP racing but they loved the original Sonic All Star Racing. They might get it from their little brother ;-)

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