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REVIEW

SONIC & ALL-STARS RACING TRANSFORMED

We all have prejudices.

Against those we don't know, food never tasted, games never played. But it's not just the unknown: even imitations bring with them a form of preformed judgement.

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is one of them. Sega's mascot does Mario Kart. To be fair, that's one hell of a template to work from if you're wanting to do arcade karting right. The result wasn't the best, but it was a decent effort unfairly hammered by comparison.

So it's over two years later, and Racing returns with a semi-sequel. In the intervening time others have tried their hand at the karting genre, and so prejudices have been significantly mitigated: the kart game is no longer a clone of Nintendo title, but a genre unto itself.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

Transformed brings with it a heap of guest racers, huge winding tracks, shortcuts, power-ups...and the ability for rides to morph into jets and boats as race course terrain demands.

Nicely its more than a visual makeover: each configuration controls differently and conversions from the four-wheeled variety are faster, leading to some strategy in seeking earlier transformation points by way of the branching tracks and shortcuts.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

Transformed also describes the courses, which alter during the race. Trackside objects will suddenly turn a once-empty street the first lap into a danger-filled obstacle course the second. Entire roadways will crumble, forcing you to roar through the skies for the final lap. It's fantastical to look at, though it means memorising track lines is a lot more difficult.

Finally the new title works its way into the power-ups. Strewn around each track are the standards for both defensive and offensive, but there's a transformation special for a particular collectable that'll turn your ride into something completely different (a flying robot, for example) and allows you to charge up the ranking, taking out competitors as you do. This is not anything particularly original, but it works.

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