Team Sonic Racing Review: A Fun Ride, But More of the Same

Sumo Digital’s Team Sonic Racing is a fun experience on many levels, offering players the chance to drift through a handful of tracks, both old and new, as different characters from the Sonic universe. While the title brings just about everything that was great about Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed to the table, it doesn’t exactly feel like a true sequel. However, that isn’t to say that there isn't an enjoyable adventure at hand, particularly when it comes to the team portion.

At the heart of Team Sonic Racing is... well, team racing, as the title indicates. Four teams of three compete, but securing first place doesn’t necessarily lead to a win as it all depends on how the team performed as a whole. Not only will players have to contend with crossing the finish line before opposing racers, but they must also communicate with one another on how exactly to go about doing this. A number of factors play into the strategy of winning.

One such aspect is customization. There are a ton of various options for players to outfit their favorite racers, both in terms of upgraded equipment to provide an advantage over others as well as how the karts look with some sweet paint jobs and vinyls. Even the horns can be changed. However, it is worth noting that any Legendary gear that is equipped will override whichever paint scheme you have selected and just turn everything gold. Not the worst problem, but it would be nice to have both the gear and the paint. Obtaining all of these customization options is fairly easy as players earn credits from playing the game, spend 10 credits for a Mod Pod, and unlock a new item. Simple as that.

Team Sonic Racing Customization

Other factors include the use of Wisps, which are intriguing little creatures that provide both offensive and defensive benefits when used, Skim Boost that allows players to give a downed teammate a push, Slingshot to help speed up comrades who are further back, and Item Transfer, which grants the ability to transfer Wisps between one another. These all play a role out on the racetracks and mastering them along with communication will only take players down the road of success. That said, the best feature is by far the Team Ultimate Boost.

Once the team ultimate meter has been filled by performing the above actions, each member will have the ability to activate the Team Ultimate Boost. This grants invincibility, the ability to spin out opponents just by knocking into them, and one seriously massive speed boost. Things can get a little out of control if you don’t have a handle on the situation when using this feature, so be sure to time it just right. In fact, talk it over with your teammates as when activated simultaneously, the effects only become better and last longer. Depending on how well it's executed, the Team Ultimate Boost could be the difference between last and first, and it's one of the most fun aspects of Team Sonic Racing.

The game's driving mechanics are every bit as good as they were in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, and everything was running as smooth as could be on our PlayStation 4 Pro. Drifting is seamless and can be done with ease around any of the 21 tracks, 12 of which are brand new, and performing stunts not only grants a boost upon returning to the ground, but they are just fun to do. Plus, flipping to either side mid-air can come in handy if your landing is properly lined up to begin with.

Team Sonic Racing

As for who will be doing the flipping, that all depends on what your style of gameplay is. There are three different types of racer: Speed, Technique, and Power. The Speed group is pretty self-explanatory and they are indeed the quickest in the game. While there are some obvious benefits that come with all of that speed, I found myself rather enjoying the Technique category for one very specific reason: these racers won’t be slowed down by going off the track. With great speed comes a decent amount of going off course, especially if you don’t have a handle on the drifting. Technique racers are immune to the slow-down effect for a limited time, so be sure to get back on track as quickly as possible. Power racers have different abilities that help them keep up with the quicker characters; these drivers can break through various obstacles that are found throughout the tracks, providing new ways to get around. In addition to this, Power racers have access to more powerful Wisps, and they are definitely felt out on the race track.

Speaking of which, the various tracks throughout Team Sonic Racing are gorgeous from top to bottom, start to finish. As stated above, there are 21 tracks in total coming from seven different worlds, each of which features all of the turns needed to drift for days, various obstacles to avoid unless you’re not too keen on keeping rings, and a ton of bright and shiny visuals to look at. Don’t worry, you’ll have all of the time in the world to take in the sights if you decided to race alone, because team-based racing is the name of the game and it is felt in every way.

Going it alone is not fun in Team Sonic Racing if you've gotten a taste of the team-related stuff. There is fun to be had racing solo, but the game definitely shines when there are teams involved, and it's extremely noticeable. The best way to get a feel for everything is by going through the Team Adventure Mode, which can be done alone with AI teammates or through local multiplayer. This will provide a similar experience to that of online multiplayer, but without facing other people and relying on the computer-controlled characters to prepare you for what lies ahead.

Team Sonic Racing Menu

Heading to the online arena, there are a few options present. Quickplay offers exactly that, jump right in and find a match to join. Once a match has been found, or a new lobby has been created, a playlist of four different options are presented to give the racers a choice in where they want ride and what type of race it will be. There is also Team Race and Standard, both of which offer a Casual and Ranked option. Same thing happens once a match is found with choosing a track and whatnot. My online experience was not the greatest as the matches that actually took place were few and far between, with one even resulting in a server error that sent everyone back to the lobby. The lack of matches was most likely due to the lack of players online pre-release. Once the game launches, other players’ experiences will surely vary. That said, when everything was working, it was smooth sailing with no noticeable issues.

Team Sonic Racing provides a fun experience for its players, but nothing about it is groundbreaking in the slightest, and while it doesn’t exactly feel like the perfect follow-up to Transformed, it does give off the vibes of a solid spinoff. With a little more love, maybe in terms of new characters, more tracks, and so on, there is no denying that this could be a great game. For the time being, however, it’s worth giving a shot if you’re into kart-racing video games.

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Rating: 4 out of 5

Team Sonic Racing is set to arrive on May 21st for Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. A PlayStation 4 retail code was provided for the purposes of this review.

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