Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is the latest Sonic kart racing entry into the series and features 20 characters racing across 16 breathtaking levels over land, air, and sea (or lava). Sega invited us to take a peak at the demo during E3.
With three racing classes available -- A, B, and C -- I went for the B Class during my demo, which is what I typically tend to race. Though a little less challenging than you'd find in a more serious race simulation, it felt about right for an arcade kart game. Still, I breezed through the levels and placed first in every race I played.
During the race the courses change due to natural disasters such as volcanoes and earthquakes; therefore, each lap is different than the last. This helps to keep the races from getting stale too quickly, and players will still find the courses challenging enough when searching for the best lines to cut down their lap times. Many courses also offer more than one path for players to choose their favorite route.
Of course you can't have a kart game without some off-the-wall pick-ups, and Sonic & All-Stars doesn't disappoint. While I enjoyed the snowballs, it was the all new "fair weapon system" I was impressed the most with. With the ability to dodge incoming attacks and even catch them with the silly glove pick-up and return fire, the cheap shots I normally don't enjoy in kart racing from other racers are now easier to manage.
Another new feature is the ability to perform "All-Star abilities" after filling up the associated meter. Players who perform special tricks in mid-air, or are in last place will fill up the meter faster than other players. This will allow them to perform the ability at any time, rather than trying to hunt down the special item box.
With today's market already packed with kart games, it can be difficult to set yourself apart from the pack. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed does this by making the transitions from driving to flying or boating and back a seamless action. Not once did it feel like the pace of the race was affected at all, and the transformations were fun. Also, the game is easy to pick up and play; gameplay sticks to the standard kart formula which makes it accessible for fans of all ages, but it's the unique pick-ups, smooth racing, and characters from nearly every Sega game which gives it a distinct edge.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed races into your home for the PS3, 360, 3DS, Vita, and PC later this year.