This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
At a trendy venue in London in mid-April, Den of Geek met up with a gaggle of other journalists to spend some hands-on time with Team Sonic Racing. This was a welcome second chance with a game we’d already tried out at E3 last year (you can find our first impressions at this link.) A second go at the game revealed more of the content it has to offer.
We spent the morning getting to grips with the single-player offering: racing our way through numerous tracks, building an understanding of the different gadgets, and learning how to customize karts for maximum impact. Then, in the afternoon, we were split into teams of three and plonked into a shared online lobby to battle it out with rival trifectas.
Team Sonic Racing is built around this three-person-team dynamic, and the game really comes into its own when there are real people on your team rather than AI characters. Having a local team of three, competing online with other triumvirates, seems like it’ll be the most fun way to play the game. And if you do end up playing like that, here are our top tips for success…
6. Pick your racers carefully
There are three main types of racer in the game: speed-based ones like Sonic, skill-based ones like Tails, and heavy-duty ones like Dr. Robotnik. You can alter the stats of any character by fiddling about with their kart (for instance, you could create a streamlined kart that makes Robotnik a bit quicker), but the core purpose of their categories cannot be undone.
When you’re putting together your three-person team, you’ll ideally want to have one of each. Having three super-speedy players is tempting, as evidenced by the huge number of Metal Sonic racers on the track at this press event. But the skill characters don’t slow down when they go onto grass or water, and the heavier characters have a lot of heft for bashing with. Both of these features can come in very handy when you need to overcome an opponent in a tight spot.
5. Keep an eye on the leaderboard
If you come first as an individual but your teammates come last and second-last, chances are that your team won’t finish atop the podium when the points are totted up at the end of the race. It’s important to keep an eye on the leaderboard rather than just checking your own position.
Your team will be color-coded and their positioning data is always on the screen, so it should only take a quick glance to see how things are going. Whether you’re racing ahead or lagging behind, it’s important to know which members of your team need assistance.
4. Share your items
One thing that sets Team Sonic Racing apart from the majority of traditional kart games is the emphasis on team play. One of the ways this manifests is in the ability to share items, which means you can pick up a boost or a weapon and then gift it to one of your teammates.
Wherever you are in the leaderboard, you’ll have something to do. If you’re miles ahead at the front, you get first pick of the items and can send them flying back to your teammates to help them catch up. It makes being at the back more fun, too, as you get loads of extra stuff to assist in making up the deficit.
Sharing items is easy, as well: you press one button to offer an item up to your teammates, and the exact same button to accept an item that someone else is offering.
3. Make happy trails
Whichever member of your team is at the front, they’ll leave a golden trail in their wake. These two golden lines aren’t just there to look pretty, either. They serve a purpose, providing your teammates with another way to try and catch up.
If you follow exactly in your frontrunner’s slipstream for a couple of seconds, you’ll earn a little boost called a “Slingshot.” When you veer out of the trail, the boost will activate, and it’ll hopefully help you overtake your enemies and catch up to the front of the pack. If you’re the one at the front, try to make your path through the track as straight as possible. The better your driving, the easier it will be for your teammates to earn Slingshot boosts.
2. Don’t be afraid to overtake your teammates
It may feel like a bit of a betrayal, but there are a couple of very good reasons to overtake your own teammates if the opportunity presents itself. For one thing, if your teammate has spun out and lost all their coins, overtaking them and taking the coins will earn your teammate a little boost – this will help them avoid losing loads of places.
Even if your teammate hasn’t spun out, you’ll want to overtake them if you can. If you use a Slingshot to whizz around your frontrunner teammate, you’ll become the leader of your pack, which means your teammate will then be able to get a boost out of your slipstream. If nobody interrupts, the pair of you can keep overtaking each other and reaping the boost-based rewards. This is a great way to extend your lead, and have a little extra fun if you’re in the first and second positions.
1. Then you can “go ultimate!”
Whether you’re sharing items, helping each other recover, or garnering loads of Slingshot boosts, every act of teamwork earns your team “Ultimate” points. When you fill up the entire Ultimate meter, your whole team can “go ultimate” and earn a massive reward. Going ultimate means getting a speed boost and becoming temporarily invincible – if you remember the glowing star power up from Mario Kart, you’ll have a decent idea of what this feels like.
Going ultimate is the major reward for working together, and you even get a longer ultimate session if you all press the activation button at the same time. This special power-up can also be a major game-changer, so if your whole team is struggling near the back, you’ll really want to work together and earn this big bonus.
The basic controls of the racing are simple and easy to pick up, but the knack of working perfectly together takes a bit of practice to get right. Communication is key, and teamwork really does make the dream work.
All in all, this team-oriented action makes Team Sonic Racing feel like a very engaging karting experience. Whether you’re leading the pack by miles or trailing at the back by loads, you’ll have important things to do that will keep you entertained. Here’s hoping that, when the game comes out, plenty of people put teams together and make the most of what Team Sonic Racing is offering…
Team Sonic Racing launches on May 21 for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.