This was not my first review, but I mentioned this one in my introduction thread so might as well start with it.
This game. This game is probably my least favorite game in my collection. This game is something that I never want to be reminded of again, but I go back to it constantly. Why?
The short answer is probably that I hate myself.
Graphically, this game is a mix. It has nicely animated pre-rendered cutscenes, but it also has cutscenes that are rendered by the in-game engine. The pre-rendered cutscenes look beautiful and are very high quality. They are very grphically detailed and all around look really good. It's a shame that more often, you'll come across the cutscenes that look like garbage. They're better than in-game models from the 5th generation, but that's only because they're a lot smoother. Otherwise, the in-game cutscenes that are rendered by the game's engine look like trash, but the game's models when the game is being played looks a bit better. No progressive scan here, but that's not really needed for a crappy game like this one.
In the sound department, we have an electronic/techno/electronic dance soundtrack, and to be perfectly honest, this is my favorite part of the game aside from the cutscenes that look actually good. The music is pretty good, and it's worth a listening to when you're not playing the game. Otherwise, the sound is awful too. (On a side note, I'm reviewing the English voices because, in the GC version, there is no choice to change the voice language, since there wasn't enough space on the disc to fit multiple languages.) We have the same cast from Shadow the Hedgehog, aside from a clip from Dr. Eggman's previous voice, Deem Bristow, which is said when you select him in the 2P mode. The 4kids voice actors didn't do a very good job here, and that also takes away from the enjoyment in the game (what little you can get from it), but then again, they aren't very good in general, but the worst part in the auditory department isn't the constant yelling from different characters when they do tricks and attack. It isn't the sound effects. It is the fact that omochao is the commentator, and if you know 3D sonic games, this guy NEVER SHUTS UP. He will talk about how you are building momentum. He will talk about how you made a "perfect" landing or a "nice landing or a "smooth" landing, and the most you will hear is "Ohh, [Insert character's name here] has failed to land correctly!" even though you obviously did, and this line drives me the most insane. There is also no option to turn this little rash off. You will have to hear him no matter what, unless you can tune him out. He is the worst part of this game, hands down, and it makes me mad, because the soundtrack I thought was really good.
In the gameplay department, oh boy. You ride hoverboards, (not the ones that if they over charge, they explode, not to mention that they don't even hover) and the game calls them "Extreme Gear" (a little late to get onto the "Extreme" bandwagon, isn't it, Sega?) and they control fine, you have your normal drift, your normal boost, and every board has the same acceleration (no powerups in this game other than extra ring bonuses and extra air), and that's ok, the drifting controls fine, and the boards control fine. That's the end of what's fine about the gameplay. The boards rely on "Air". Yes, you read that right. In a racing game where you are speeding through the air, you have to get more air by doing one of multiple things. One is doing tricks in the air, another is by grinding on rails (speed characters only) or flying through "speed rings" as I'll call them (for the speed character, but nothing that I've really seen for the power characters. The "Air" is apparently some special kind, because otherwise, you wouldn't have to refill. This is a real pain, since what this is isn't some sort of useful challenge to get enough air, all it is is a limiter for your boosts, otherwise you could use them all of the time without repercussions. Refilling air can really be a pain while racing, since "Pit" s are time wasters, and are only reommended to be used in times of real need, since they will put you in last place, especially if you have a Lv. 3 bar, which is pretty long. The gameplay takes time to get used to, but in that case, I recommend playing some time trial stages and get used to how the game plays. That's how I got good at the game, and it in turn made the levels pushovers (except for times it really screws with you). The worst is when the CPUs know a shortcut, but you don't. You get stuck in behind and you can't catch up. Overall, the gameplay sucks.
Control wise, I'd rather not repeat myself, so I'm going to leave it at it is responsive MOST of the time.
In every other section, be prepared for a long read.
I'm going to start with the story (be warned that there are spoilers, even though you probably don't want to play this)
This game follows a story line of the fact that Eggman/Robotnik (whichever you prefer) is hosting an Extreme Gear competition. But the main game of the Heroes' story is that the main trio is searching for a nearby chaos emerald, and it appears right as three shadowy figures break through a window, riding on Extreme Gear, and the trio give chase. Sonic isn't fast enough (Wait WHAT?) to catch up with the leader, who's name is Jet (I hate this guy, but I hate the main trio), and he acts like a more cocky Sonic who (of course) wants to get all of the emeralds to raise babylon garden into the sky for its treasure and sonic won't have any of that, but in this game he just wants the emeralds to keep them out of bad hands. One thing I will ask about this whole game is why, if knuckles is known not to be around the Master Emerald right now, Why doesn't Eggman just swoop by and grab it? He has the potential to do it, and he (when he gets all of the emeralds) can make an impenetrable base that nobody can take down. Why doesn't he just do that? Anyways, back to the subject at hand. Sonic gets on Storm's Extreme Gear (which the clumsy idiot fell off of) to speed up to jet, but he then loses his balance, falls off, and the babylon rogues. The next day, Eggman says something about an Extreme Gear competition, and the price for coming in is one chaos emerald per person. (Man, he really isn't trying to mask his plot at this point, now is he?) then, the cutscenes end and the gameplay starts for the Heroes' story. Metal City is the first level, and it is a pretty decent introduction level. After that, we move onto the next (in game rendered) cutscene, and this one is one of the cutscenes that makes the "villains" look very obvious as villains, and the "heroes" are very stupid and don't notice things until it's right in front of them. This is one that blatantly shows that the heroes are stupid, since wave puts an explosive device in the bottom of sonic's board, walks away cackling, and nobody cares. The next stage is Splash Canyon, and while there are no underwater sections, this stage is just different scenery and a different map. That's about it. The next stage comes with a cutscene (engine rendered) which shows Knuckles engaging Storm, which then leads to Egg Factory, which is just a change of map and scenery. That's basically every stage. Then next comes another cutscene where you have to race wave, but before that, you see a cutscene where jet just walks on by and acts like a complete jerk. Green Cave is bad, and the CPUs can take a short cut which I can never seem to pull off, and they always cut in front of me. It really irritates me. Then comes sand ruin, which has a mediocre opening cutscene, not much to mention, but this stage has my favorite song in the game. The level is desert themed (of course) and is pretty short. Then comes to the cutscene that makes me the most angry. Right as Sonic is about to hit the finish line, Wave hits the button on a detonator and Sonic's board blows up.
I have a few red flags raised about this. First, why wasn't this called out? Is it just a common occurrence for the board to just explode? Secondly, why didn't sonic look at the bottom of his board and see that there was a bomb? Finally, why didn't sonic get up and then punch Jet? Why did he just lay on the ground and hit it when Jet verbally spat on him? If I were him, I would have gotten up and started beating up the cheating little monster for what he is. A cheater. Then you get a nice looking prerendered cutscene which shows jet raising the Babylon Garden, the final level of the Heroes' Story and... Ugh... Babylon Garden... I hate this level. This is the most difficult level in the Heroes' Story, and this level is just so aggravating with one of the very sharp turns you have to pull off. his level in it's purest form is very difficult for newcomers, but once you play it more, you can breeze through it with only a few retries. Then ends the Heroes' Story, but we're not done yet.
Next comes the Rogues' Story. This story doesn't start out with a prerendered cutscene, but an engine rendered cutscene. Apparently they were too unimportant for a little effort. So we see Eggman flying around to the Rogues' Airship, and we then see Jet playing with a blue cube used for later story elements. Storm then barges into Jet's room telling him that Eggman wants to see him. Eggman then tells Jet that Sonic is the enemy, so then after you skip that snorefest, you start on reskinned stages. We have not Metal City, not Splash Canyon, not Egg Factory, not Green Cave, not Sand Ruins, not Babylon Garden, and the Babylon Guardian. Alright, their real names are Night Chase, Red Canyon, Ice Factory, White Cave, Dark Desert and Sky Road. In between, we have cutscenes following the rogues, with Jet being a lazy jerk ordering everyone else to do the work while he rests, an annoying Wave, and an idiotic Storm. The stages go in the order I just listed, and they're basically more difficult versions of the stages that they're reskins of except for Sky Road...
Sky Road is THE WORST LEVEL IN THE GAME. This level has the worst learning curve, and the CPU can really mess you up. The shortcuts you can take really can just mess you up, and when you get back on to the level, you are all the way in back. This level also loves just eating your air meter, no matter what LV you are on. There is also a jump that is almost impossible to make to reach a higher ledge, and I just really hate this level for how it's difficult, but how the difficulty is just plain stupid in how it's designed, not a fun kind of challenge. Then comes the Babylon Guardian who is a complete pushover, and the level is also kind of enjoyable, but only to laugh at how poorly this boss was designed. You ram into his genie bottle 3 times and the race is over (except for finishing the lap). The ending isn't any good either. Very anticlimactic too, but the final cutscene that isn't the credits is prerendered, and it looks good.
I don't recommend this game at all. This has only a few positives out of so many negatives, and those positives were few and far between, not to mention that if you already own this, it's fun to make fun of, along with the fact that the game's JP boxart looks very nice, something that would be worthy of being printed out and pinned up somewhere, but otherwise, this isn't something I will even recommend to hardcore sonic fans. This is something to avoid unless you've tried it and liked it, or just want to try it for yourself.
Bottom line, don't get this game unless you REALLY want to try this for yourself.
P.S., to anyone that says one version is better than the other, like the GameCube version is better than the PS2 version, you are wrong, as playing it on the GameCube and PS2 gives you the same experience. I've played both of them and there is no difference in my perspective. I played the GC version and I tried the PS2 version. There's no difference. Only thing about the PC version I like is that none of the characters' eyes move so they all look really, really stupid.