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When we first heard that Sonic Rivals was going to be more of a competitive racer than a standard, 2D side-scroller, some brows began to furrow. After playing through a race or two, that area of concern seems pretty well founded.
The E3 demo of Rivals put Sonic and Shadow the Hedgehogs against each other on a left-to-right raceway that looks right out of the classic Sonic titles - springboards, spiky pits and giant loops all made several appearances, but the most important aspect, speed, was in short supply. Sure, there were different paths to take (high road or low road?), but the outcome was rarely affected by the route we took.
But much more noticeable was the rubber band method of racing. We'd get ahead and Shadow would catch up and punch us in the back. In just a matter of seconds, we're back on his tail and kick him to the curb. Repeat. It never really felt like true racing, just a jog to the next power-up or checkpoint.
In all fairness, this was just one level of an unfinished game. There's every chance that more will be added, but for now, Rivals feels more like a supplementary, two-player minigame than a full-fledged, full-priced title.