For Sonic's 15th anniversary in 2006, a game simply titled Sonic the Hedgehog was developed for the PS3 and the Xbox 360. The game had received negative reviews from critics such as IGN and Gametrailers. I think Sonic the Hedgehog (also known as Sonic '06) is an underrated game. Because of the fun gameplay, interesting story line, and great soundtrack, it is actually one of my favorites in the series.
To avoid spoilers, I will only go into detail about Sonic's story. It all starts at Soleanna, an island ruled by a princess named Elise. On the night the people of Soleanna are having a festival, Dr. Eggman comes and captures the princess (for reasons later revealed in the game). Although Sonic arrives in time to stop him, Eggman gets away. It's up to Sonic and his friend, Tails to save the princess. The story gets a bit complex for a typical Sonic game, but I found it interesting and cool how all three stories fit together perfectly. My only major complaint with the story is the implied romance between Sonic (a hedgehog) and Elise (a human). In these “implied romance” scenes, the dialogue gets weird and cheesy.
The gameplay in Sonic '06 is basically the same as Sonic Adventure, with some improvements. You move in a 3D environment where you talk to people, complete missions and buy things. At certain points in the story, you get to play more full-length levels that are fun and lengthy (which is rare for a Sonic game today). For Sonic's story, you try to get to the end of the level as fast as you can while collecting rings and jumping on robots' heads. At the end of some of Sonic's levels, you enter a speed level where you travel at high-speeds on a single-path. These are challenging and sometimes hard to control. A couple of levels in Sonic's story involve the princess being escorted (carried) out of the area. Sometimes, you face hazards like quick-sand and water, which Sonic can't run through. To walk across these, you can use a shield made by the princess' power by holding down R1. I was very surprised that these levels are almost as good as the regular levels. Sonic's story, in my opinion, is the most fun out of the three stories.
Although Shadow's gameplay is very similar to Sonic's, there are some differences. Instead of having high-speed levels, Shadow gets to ride vehicles at certain points of the regular levels. Some of these vehicles include a motorcycle, a buggy, and a glider. Shadow can also preform combo attacks in the air, which Sonic cannot do.
Silver's gameplay is different from the other two. He cannot jump on robots' heads like Sonic and Shadow. He can use psychokinesis, which is the ability to levitate items and throw them at enemies. The cool thing about psychokinesis is that he can pick up the missiles that the enemies hurl at you. In my opinion, Silver's overall gameplay is the least fun out of the three due to the fact that he's the slowest.
The graphics in Sonic '06 are good depending on what part of the game you're in. In gameplay, the graphics are colorful, unique, and detailed. On the other hand, the characters in the cutscenes move funny and the shadows move randomly. Of course, the graphics in the gameplay are pretty incredible compared to the Sonic game before this (Sonic Riders).
One problem with Sonic '06 is the stability. A couple of levels have some annoying glitches, but they are rare and avoidable. The framerates will drop whenever the action gets too intense. Though I never had a really big problem with the camera, others say that the camera can be unstable at times. Fans of the series who have played and beaten Sonic Adventure will find the camera easier to control. The most annoying part about the game is the loading screens. They're not very long, but in town missions, they appear often. Fortunately, most of the town missions are avoidable.
The controls in Sonic '06 are simple, but challenging. You move with the left analog stick, jump with the X button, and kick and roll with the square button. There are different ways to control the camera such as moving the right analog stick or using the L2 and R2 buttons and you can reset the camera behind you with the L1 button. Sonic '06 can be a hard game at first, but when you master the controls and camera, it can be very fun.
The voice acting in the game is pretty good. Jason Griffith does a great job portraying Sonic and Shadow. The rest of the voices are good, with the exception of two. Elise and Silver's voices are very annoying. Elise's voice is over dramatic, and Silver's sounds dorky (although I have learned that the actor of Silver purposely did this because Silver is 14 years old).
The music in Sonic '06 is great. Just about all the level tunes are cool and have a rock sound to them. I also particularly like the town theme, which has a very European sound. This is probably my favorite soundtrack in a Sonic game.
Sonic '06 is a pretty clean game. The violence consist of jumping on robots' heads and an evil plan that backfires showing the consequences of messing with the supernatural. However, the town of Soleanna is faced with a god-like evil force called Solaris. One character called Rouge the Bat wears a somewhat revealing outfit.
Overall, I consider Sonic '06 the most underrated game I've played. There may be some problems with the glitches and loading screens, but the gameplay is still very fun as a whole. Because of camera control and high-speed action, Sonic '06 is primarily for longtime Sonic fans. The game is cheap because of it's age. You can find a used or new copy for less than $20. While it's not the best Sonic game, Sonic the Hedgehog is still a fun game for Sonic fans.