Developer: Sumo Digital
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
From its announcement, Team Sonic Racing has been a confusing, anti-climactic experience for me. When rumours circulated that Sumo Digital were working on a new racing game for Sega, I couldn’t help but get excited, despite living in the golden age of disappointing less-is-less games. Would we be getting Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing 3, and if we did, would the game feature elements from Sonic Boom, Sonic Mania or other more recent Sega titles?
Almost as quickly as those rumours were addressed, we were also told that no, it wasn’t going to be Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing. Instead, we were getting an all-star-less, non-transforming racing game. So, what the hell is Team Sonic Racing, and is it worth your time?
Team Sonic Racing has a variety of game modes, including Team Adventure Mode, Local and Online race modes, as well as areas to check your stats, unlock vehicle modifications and apply them to your vehicles.
The bulk of your time will be spent in Adventure Mode, as it offers up a story and a variety of objective races such as Ring Challenge, Traffic Attack, Survival mode, and more. The story, honestly, is a huge disappointment in almost every way. Sonic and his friends are invited to complete in a series of races by the mysterious Dodon Pa, a tanuki who possesses highly-advanced technology – seriously, he has even invited Silver to travel back in time to the present to race. Though suspicious of Dodon Pa, Sonic and his friends still agree to racing because they gotta go fast?
The story in Adventure Mode is extremely dull and uninteresting, stretched out and as far as the Sonic the Hedgehog experience goes, has more in common with the subpar entries in the Sonic series than it does the decent titles. Cutscenes (if you can call them that) are either static images with spoken dialogue, or pop-up, emoji-style dialogue exchanges before the start of a race. The majority of the experience can be summarised with: new character enters, explains their presence, someone vocalises they don’t trust Dodon, Sonic says something full of douche-tude, characters race anyway. There is no payout, and it actually makes me pine for Sonic Boom, at least the characters had something more going for them than just the colour of their fur to differentiate themselves from one another.
In terms of the gameplay, everything is standard kart racing game fare, with a couple of additional features. Characters now race as three-part teams, with points rewarded depending on how each player places in a race. The best team overall, wins the various grand prix. Co-operation is the order of the day, as players can draft behind each, using their slipstreams to slingshot past other racers, as well as request and pass each other power ups earned throughout a race.
There are times where TSR can be a very frustrating game. The challenge races in particularly, can spike in difficulty compared to regular races, and the AI can be absolutely moronic – more than once I followed a team mate’s slipstream off the track. Other times, I would deploy a trap only to see a teammate drive right through it, destroying it and rendering it completely useless. Things get even worse later in Adventure Mode when they are even more teams involved.
the game is a damn sight more forgivable when playing with friends
the AI, and there are times where you will genuinely have fun with it
– but still not enough to recommend the game.
Completing any race will net you currency to purchase usable bonus items and customisation parts for your racers, though unfortunately any choice you may have had in which ones to use is stripped from you – different parts alter different vehicle stats and you’ll most likely use whatever ones round off your starting stats. Get used to those ugly rims, they help your handling.
Despite all the new bells and whistles, Team Sonic Racing isn’t groundbreaking, and is difficult to recommend. For every step forward it feels as though there have been two backward.