Forget about what the cynics have to say - this game is brilliant!
Team Sonic Racing: Xbox One / PC/ PS4 / Switch, 9/10
It isn't easy to innovate in a genre as simple as it is old, but Sumo Digital have made an admirable, if not entirely successful effort with the new and timely addition to the Sonic canon, Team Sonic Racing.
The arcade racer greatly resembles other stalwarts of the venerable genre. From the boost meter to the boost pads, the randomized collectables and rubberbanding, Team Sonic Racing nails every trope you would expect to find in a game of this mould. A more cynical appraiser might suggest that Team Sonic Racing is aping extremely successful racing games in a bid to drum up interest in the forthcoming Sonic feature-length film. Honestly, even if this was the sole purpose of Team Sonic Racing, it doesn't matter because the game is brilliant. While Sumo Digital have certainly worn their inspirations firmly on their sleeve, they have a few delightfully novel tricks of their own hidden within.
First and foremost is Team Sonic Racing's earnest fixation of the idea of 'the team' being the core element which everything else must follow. All team-based races in the game will feature teams of three pitted against each other. Whichever driver from each team is currently leading their group will produce a yellow slipstream, allowing other drivers from their team to 'slingshot' out in front, therein producing their own slipstream and allowing a cycle of 'leapfrogging' until the race's completion. It is an addictive and refreshing system.
Outside of the emphasis on team cohesion, Team Sonic Racing doesn't feature all that much that we haven't seen from the genre already. This is not necessarily a bad thing, after all, the old well-trampled adage of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" isn't unjustified in lingering around for all these years. What Team Sonic Racing doesn't propose in innovation, it makes up for with solid gameplay design and even better level design.
Even in the chaotic turmoil of a race, it is hard not to be drawn into appreciating the sheer spectacle of the tracks. Make no mistake, you aren't likely to find much better levels in any of Team Sonic Racing's peers. Of the 21 current stages, there isn't a single one that doesn't dazzle in its baffling twists and turns, resplendent in themes of fabulous grandeur. Whether it's explosions of brilliant neon or winding through dizzying stacks of poker chips, Team Sonic Racing is truly a feast for the sight.
Perhaps its nostalgic longing for a simpler time in gaming, but it's difficult to be overly critical of a game that is crafted so well and with so little pretense.