Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric (Wii U) Review
Kalvin Martinez / Dec 30th, 2014 No Comments
Sometimes, a fresh start is what a person needs. The baggage and conventions of the old ways get too built up and a new beginning is necessary. Sonic is a beloved character for many, while he hasn’t had the most sterling recent past, the blue hedgehog hasn’t fared as bad as some gaming mascots (see Pac-Man). Even still, a reboot might be just what the blue blur needed.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is a clean break for the character and the series. It gives Sonic a relatively clean slate to build something new. Unfortunately, Rise of Lyric wastes its opportunity to start anew. The game has a variety of issues, from poor performance to bland gameplay, but buried somewhere in the core is a good idea that doesn’t come together.
A Misanthropic Snake Cyborg
Sonic and the gang go from chasing down Dr. Eggman to being boxed in by a never ending wave of robots on an island. Needing an escape, Sonic opens up a sealed tomb, and finds statues that look a lot like Sonic and Tails inside. Despite the odd coincidence, Sonic, Amy, Knuckles and Tails try to find a way out of the tomb. Sadly, in finding an exit, they inadvertently free an evil snake cyborg named Lyric.
Lyric had been imprisoned in the tomb because he used ancient power to build a terrible robot army bent on wiping out all organic life. With his new freedom, Lyric plans to finish his nefarious plot, and must gain eight crystals to do so. Now it is up to Sonic and friends to stop Lyric.
Nothing about the writing or the plot of Rise of Lyric is particularly exciting or new. For a game attempting to take a new spin on the Sonic series, it has too many familiar trappings and elements. Much like Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, Rise of Lyric has good characterizations of Sonic, Knuckles, Tails and Amy (for what it wants these new interpreations to be), and interplay between the characters. However, it lacks the surprising humor and idiosyncrasies found in the 3DS game.
Time to Fetch Some Crystals
To stop Lyric and his plan to use an evil robot army, Sonic must venture forth to find the eight crystals before Lyric gets a hold of them. This is the thrust of gameplay in Rise of Lyric. Each crystal is located deep within labyrinthine dungeons. To get their hands on the crystals, the Sonic Boom crew must overcome numerous obstacles and hordes of Lyric’s robots.
The team splits up often in order to track down crystals. Any two-character combination of Knuckles, Sonic, Tails and Amy are sent off at a time. Gameplay often involves splitting into two teams and acting in concert to unblock a path to the crystal. Whether in a two-person team or with the whole gang, players can switch easily between characters in order to tackle character-specific challenges.
The crux of exploration is behind the various character-specific areas. Each character uses their unique abilities to get past certain areas. Sonic can speed up ramps and use his homing attack on white orbs to dash across the air. Tails uses his power of flight and hover pads to float up to heights unreachable by other characters. Knuckles can burrow and climb walls or ceilings in the presence of ruby rocks, and Amy has the unique ability to triple jump and uses pink platforms to get to new areas.
Players will need to choose which abilities to use in order to make their way past objectives. However, this sometimes proves to be a mundane task as climbing walls, jumping up on platforms, flying or speeding around all lead to the same result.
Combat involves basic strikes, charge attacks and character-specific special attacks. Each character can evade enemies, but this mechanic is not responsive enough to work effectively. Each member of the gang possesses an enerbeam, which can be used to grapple an enemy and throw or pull them closer to dole out heavier attacks.
Combat tends to be boring. The game grades performance on the standard action grading scale (from D to S), but chaining attacks is a bit difficult so it just seems to be thrown in. Enemy attacks become varied as the game moves forward, but the controls and mechanics aren’t tight enough to make good use of the variety. Players will mostly wind up using Sonic’s homing attack or throwing enemies off screen with the enerbeam.
Boss battles often involve the same pattern of beating up something for a while, then using the enerbeam to finish it off. These aren’t the classic memorable Sonic boss battles of old, and generally feel like a larger, more protracted version of a normal fight.
In the same way the race sequences in Shattered Crystals are the highlight of the game, the on-rails speed sequences in Rise of Lyric are the game’s bright spot. These moments aren’t especially challenging, but they have a fluidity and movement to them that is a refreshing change of pace. The Metal Sonic boss battle stands out the most because it makes good use of speed and adds its own unique spin to gameplay.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is a collection of missed opportunities. Somewhere buried in the game is a kernel of good direction for an action-adventure Sonic game, but many of the ideas fail in execution. The overwhelming issue is the need to balance the speed inherent to the character with the slower-paced exploration found in an adventure game. Perhaps this can provide a map to something better in the future for the series, but the first step toward it is a noticeable stumble.
tags: Big Red Button Entertainment , review , Rise of Lyric , sega , Sonic Boom , Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric Review , Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric