For as polished as Sonic Unleashed’s graphics are, its biggest visual flaw is its framerate. The Xbox 360 version played at a mostly steady 24-30 (capped) FPS, while the PS3 version was worse for wear despite an uncapped framerate that would bring the game up to 48FPS on occasion, but dropping to 24FPS or below ruining the flow of the game.
In many ways, the game’s graphic-intensive “Hedgehog Engine” was a bit too ahead of its time. It couldn’t keep a steady 30 FPS on the most powerful system of that era. It would take 2011’s Sonic Generations to iron the kinks out. While the Werehog levels weren’t affected too much by the framerate, several daytime Sonic levels dropped frames horribly. Jungle Joyride became a slideshow at times. Now, in 2022, Sonic Unleashed’s full potential has been unlocked thanks to the Boost Mode on the Xbox Series S/X, bringing the game to a steady 60 FPS.
To me, this brought the game from a guilty pleasure to a legitimately good Sonic title. Sonic’s daytime levels run as smooth as silk, giving you better handling and control. Even the Werehog levels feel less cumbersome as Sonic now feels faster and more responsive. There seems to be less blur as well. The high framerate allows for a faster response time. I can honestly say I was actually enjoying the Werehog levels for a change.
That doesn’t mean the game’s old flaws aren’t still present. Medal collecting near the end game is still soul-crushing, the Werehog levels are still a bit too long, and having the camera suddenly change position when you’re balancing across a steel beam is still as irritating as ever. That said, if you love this style of Sonic gameplay, it’s never looked or played better than it does on Series S/X.
The Series S/X boost mode also improves other Sonic titles as well. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed gets a 60 FPS boost, and Sonic Generations runs at both 4K resolution and 60FPS.
To see Sonic Unleashed in action on the Series S/X, check out our gameplay video below.