Watching the early trailers and teasers of this, it looked very interesting to have a vehicle that can change into a plane and boat AND carry the control physics of each mode. I haven't played the first game which was well received so this one was one to get for certain.
Getting into the game, the tracks and graphics are beautifully presented and have great attention to detail; cool homages to previous games such as After Burner and Golden Axe. Music yet again doesn't disappoint here; it's more dance orientated remixes of previous songs, but it works well when you consider it's a racing game and a chaotic one at that! You will get the odd but neat two song medley like in Ocean View, remixes of Sonic CD's You Can Do Anything (AKA Toot Toot Sonic Warrior) and Sonic R's Super Sonic Racing gets played. Voice acting, while not essential, is clearly lazily done in places as you hear recycled sound clips from Sonic Generations. Adjusting the volume levels of the crowd and announcer in the Options Menu is a hilarious touch though cos it's amusing and funny!
The gameplay is pretty good and competent; although it can get a bit out of hand when you have to constantly re-adjust your style when the vehicle changes, the skill is trying to adapt your style. Mastering it is a challenge though because the control can feel a bit vague at first, especially on the boats; drifting a boat is weird! Manhandling the plane is required during the Ring Race Challenges. But with practice, the control is tight and very good.
The items, while widely variable in appearance, are underwhelming because they do pretty much the same thing anyway; just variations of a projectile or item really.
The biggest issue I have is the progression system of the World Tour; you earn stars by completing events in that World Tour and the number of stars you earn on each event is dependent on the difficulty you choose to do it in. So you earn more stars on harder difficulties and vice versa and a number of stars must be met in order to progress or unlock stuff. I don't mind something like this but what I do mind is the fact you must complete EVERY single event on the S-Class level (level 4/expert level, which gets unlocked later on) to progress further and finish the tour off. This means backtracking over everything you already did, including those you will have struggled to complete on the A-Class level previously, and redoing them all over again at an even tougher level. And you CANNOT leave any of them with anything completed lower than a S-Class medal as you will not have enough stars to progress further into the tour or unlock extra content.
It is very annoying and aggravating because you will hear the words "Event Failed" a lot as the events are cheaply difficult and require many many attempts! You really have to work yourself so hard to finish and memorise everything that it doesn't become fun, it just becomes work.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I just feel the progression system could have been implemented better and not force you to do everything at the hardest level, which could or should be left optional.
That aside, it's a nice looking and fun game to play, has great music and a good level of challenge, even if it's a bit steeply curved in places. Far from being a poor Mario Kart rip off, it's worth a look.