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Sonic Unleashed confirmed

"2D gameplay" on 360, Wii, PS3 and PS2.

Sega has confirmed the leaks and backed up its lawyers by officially announcing its next major Sonic the Hedgehog title: Sonic Unleashed.

Sonic Unleashed is being developed by Sonic Team, and will be released late this year for Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2. It features "classic Sonic 2D gameplay" rendered by the all-new Hedgehog engine, which apparently excels at seamless 3D to 2D camera transitions. Observe them in the official, non-leaked, absolutely watertight video.

The engine's been under development for three years, with the intention of blending a next-generation look with classic Sonic gameplay mechanics. Purists rejoice. We certainly are: it looks lovely.

It wouldn't be a Sonic game without a gimmick of some kind, however, and we're promised a "completely new way to play as Sonic" when darkness sets in - lending more than a little weight to the earlier claims that he would transform into a werewolf. Combat will play a much more important role - in the werewolf sections, we're betting - while Sonic's more traditional high-speed skills will be featured in four new modes.

The plot's pretty simple: Dr Eggman has broken the world apart, and Sonic must travel around the seven broken continents, sticking it back together with Chaos Emerald power.

It all sounds appealingly old-school. Consider us cautiously optimistic, and watch out for more details on Sonic Unleashed in the coming months.