It still feels a little weird to say it out loud, but Sonic has really been making waves in 2019. For all the wrong reasons, mind you. Later this year, Sonic the Hedgehog will release in theaters and the design of the iconic hero has been coming under fire. A game featuring Sonic the way God intended is exactly what the world needs right now, and this week we got that. Team Sonic Racing has been released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC and we've already given it a whirl.
Sonic has been trying to make a mark on the video game racing scene for over 20 years. While we're fairly certain this isn't the breakthrough game of the Sonic racing franchise, and we don't think Sega intended it to be, the game is a lot of fun to play. If you're an avid fan of Mario Kart, there will be plusses and negatives for you regarding TSR. The good news is the controls are almost identical. TSR even uses MK's drift-to-boost system. However, if you are well-versed in MK, you'll constantly find yourself pointing out things in TSR that simply don't match up.
As its name suggests, TSR has a heavy team aspect to it. That was probably our favorite part of the game. It would have been easy for Sega to just let players race in teams of three and leave it at that. Instead, it has made team racing much more tactical than we expected it to be. All three racers need to work together using skimboosts, slingshots, and item swaps. Do enough of that and you'll earn your trio a Team Ultimate. Your racer will become harder to control than Super Sonic, but the massive boost of speed is worth it.
While we don't want to compare TSR to MK too much, we couldn't help ourselves while playing the game's Adventure Mode. MK's tried and tested system of competing for different cups is more than enough. However, the Sega team felt the need to add a story to its offering. But then they also seemed to decide to stop halfway into designing it.
If the game had full cutscenes rather than still characters appearing with text boxes, we would have been more on board with working through the game's story. We feel as if that area of the game might well have been rushed so the title could be released early and get a month's worth of sales under its belt before Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled takes everyone's attention. You'll also want to up the difficulty should you choose to play through TSR's adventure since the AI doesn't offer up much of a challenge.
While its Adventure Mode falls short, playing TSR online does not. We tend to look for organized chaos when it comes to playing racing games such as this online, and TSR delivers on that front. Plus, the waiting times between races are minimal. The only bad thing racing online does is highlight the difference between the game's three classes. Almost everyone online opts for racers with the speed ability rather than technical or power. If you race with characters from the latter two, you may struggle. Or if you're finding things too easy, picking a racer with a different ability might be a good way to challenge yourself.
If you plan on giving TSR a try then we would give you the same advice that we offer up to Marvel fans watching a DCEU movie for the first time. If you expect the same from the former as you do from the latter, then you're going to be disappointed. If you play TSR and expect the same experience as you'd get from MK, chances are you won't enjoy this game. Treat TSR how it should be treated, as a second-tier arcade driving game that will be a lot of fun to pick up and play if you let yourself enjoy it. If Sega is serious about creating a game that can compete with MK, dipping into Sonic's rich history is the way to do it. Casino Night and Chemical Plant tracks on this game would have certainly enhanced our experience.
Team Sonic Racing is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC and will cost you significantly less than most new titles at $39.99. TheGamer reviewed the PS4 version.
2.5 Out Of 5 Stars