After playing through it, I can safely say that Sonic Riders 2, is a marked improvement on the original game. The controls feel more tight altogether. Jumping/tricking has been simplified, for better or for worse. In the first game you had to hold and charge your jump prior to hitting the ramp, and depending on when you released it, combined with how much power you had, would determine how far you would go. Tricking either forward or upward would also contribute to how high up or far you went in your air time. This was the main mechanic used for finding shortcuts. In Riders 2, you do not charge your jumps. You simply press jump as you hit the ramp, and your air time/tricking will vary depending on your timing. Easier and simpler for sure, but I miss the complexity and satisfaction of the jumps in the first game, myself.
The rest of the additions and changes are definitley to the game's benefit. The original riders was intensive on you navigating sharp turns by doing a sort of powerslide-boost. You would hold a shoulder button to initiate a slide, navigate the corner, and then release the slide to boost out of it. It worked, but it was implemented in such a way that it was pretty difficult to get the hang of. This game nixes it in favor of a much more effective, and more satisfying, gravity turn. As you approach a sharp corner, pressing the button will slow down time (with a satisfying sound effect and muting of the music), allowing you to quickly turn the corner and orient yourself into the direction you want to go, whereupon releasing it will slingshot you in said direction. Simultaneously, the music will blast back into high gear, and any objects in the vicinity will be thrown every which way by the resulting gravity-blast thingy. It is ultimately easier to execute than the first game's slide-boosts, and is immensely more satisfying. No complaints here.
As the first game's gimmick was air, this one's is gravity. You have a couple gravity based moves at your disposal, like the afformentioned sharp-turn navigating technique. This same technique can be executed in midair, and is key in finding shortcuts. Say you hit a ramp, and in midair you see a high road you cant quite reach. Activate your time-slower-downer, Turn towards it, and slingshot yourself right onto it. You can even do this onto roads that are suspended sideways! (like a wall ride of sorts).
There are other gravity inspired shenanigans as well, such as a boost. You will momentarily stop as the colors invert wormwhole style, charge up, and then blast the fuck off in whatever direction you are oriented it, destroying objects in your wake and even wall riding on now-floating objects, and it will last until you either let go of the button or run out of gravity points (obtained by tricking).
Another welcome change due to the gravity gimmick is that your gear no longer runs off air. In the first game, you had to constantly be tricking and collecting items to keep your air gauge full, otherwise you were grounded on foot until you found more. This is not an issue in Riders 2.
The game features a story mode, complete with cutscenes and bad voice acting as the first game did. So far, the deal is these metallic rings seem to have dropped onto earth, and subsequently MeteoTech's robots go crazy, not heeding command, and relentlessly pursue these rings. As it happens, Sonic and his pals have stumbled onto one of these rings, and shortly discover their gravity-defying abilities while escaping the pursuit of these robots. Deciding that they are pissed off about being chased everywhere, it's off to MeteoTech to find out what the deal is. I'm sure the plot will twist and turn and all that good junk. I haven't got far into it, so I will leave the rest to the imagination (or for the player to find out).
Additions aside, the game features the core mechanics of the first game, though some are slightly different; Power, Speed, and Flight classes, each with specific abilities and reachable shortcuts. You can level up your gear real-time by collecting rings. For example with Sonic, your first set of rings will activate your grind ability, then your max speed, etc. Other times it will transform the gear into something else, like a bike. You can choose when, or if, to initiate the upgrades, since this time around you have to press a button to activate the upgrade. Overall, the additions and changes benefit the gameplay, and everything else has been tuned up; for instance, grinding no longer requires you to press jump a second time to connect to the rail, and it is easier to connect in general.
The wii version exhibits motion controls (horizontal or vertical), as well as the option to go with a gamecube controller. The motion controls function, but the gamecube controller will give you the most precision, by far, and I highly recommend you play through the game using those.
The music so far, as with the first game, is nothing to write home about. Nothing memorable, but nothing offensive or intrusive. They are suitably uptempo, techno inspired tracks that match with the futuristic, high speed theme.
The Graphics get the job done as well, but are relatively underwhelming. Perhaps moreso than the first game. Some areas looks relatively muted and bare bones insofar as textures go, and not as crisp and vibrant as the first game, though the game features interesting and eye catching art direction nonetheless.
As I understand it, the game features twice the amount of tracks (8 worlds, 2 tracks to each) and characters (Blaze, Silver, and even Billy hatcher join the fray), and of course there is plenty of extra gear to buy and obtain, and some courses and characters to unlock. So there is plenty of gameplay to be had. The tracks for the most part are well designed and interesting, with plenty of shortcuts to be had. The wii version benefits from wifi by uploading your ghost data and rankings to the zomg internet. however, online play is not present, which is a big letdown.
Overall I would rate the game a 7.5/10. Raise that to an 8.5 if you liked Riders.
I would probably put the original at about a 6.5. The sequel is definitley more solid, is a blast to play, and exhibits enough changes to make it worth checking out. It is pretty much better and more fun to play than the original.
It may not be your bag of tea, however, and is not too radically different from its predecessor. So I would recommend a rental before anyone drops 50 bucks on it. however, again, if you enjoyed any aspect of Riders, it's sequel features enough changes and improvements to warrant checking it out. It's not about to endanger, say, Mario Kart, but this spinoff series has enough style and unique gameplay to warrant a look-see. When you get the hang of the learning curve, there is plenty of fun to be had.