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CommanderViper   Posted 3rd Apr 2006 6:07pm
L4Y Member
Post 310 / 423

I've been *gasp* off my computer for the past few days because I've been so deeply engrossed in this game. I made a review for another forum I'm on and I figured I really shouldn't waste it on just one forum...so here we go:

After 4 days of having the game in my possession I have completed Kingdom Hearts 2, so in that light, I bring you my review:

Plot:

(note: there may be some things you want to find out for yourself so if you want to skip this section, feel free, however nothing is a major spoiler)


First of all, you may want to play both the original Kingdom Hearts (PS2) and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (GBA) to get the full story behind this game, or else you may be terribly confused. The opening FMV and early stages give a gist of what happened through flashbacks and Jiminy Cricket's journal fills in a lot of holes, but it's best just to play them for yourself.

Anyway, Kingdom Hearts II essentially picks up nearly a year after Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (as evident in the change in height of Sora, the main character, and change in height and appearence of Kairi, Sora's friend). The catch to this is that you actually start the game as a boy (formerly refered to as the "Blond-Haired Kid") named Roxas.

Roxas lives in a place called Twilight Town and is often found hanging around with his posse. In Twilight Town, Roxas encounters some Final Fantasy characters, namely a young Seifer (originally from FF8) and his posse, Fuu (Fujin from FF8), Rai (Raijin from FF8), and Vivi (from FF9). As Roxas, you learn the basics of the game and do the obligatory "which part of your stats do you want to focus on?"

Anyways getting back to the story, Roxas is a boy whom is having strange dreams about Sora and his past adventures and through the part of your adventure as him, he seeks to find out what's going on. Along the way he encounters many strange occurances, such as strange white creatures, a black-robed man, and his acquiring of the Keyblade just to name a few.

Later on, you gain control of Sora who awakens in a mysterious white pod with no memory of the events in Chain of Memories and Jiminy Cricket's journal completely blank except for a mysterious message saying "Thank Namine". As Sora travels on he learns that the Heartless are still around as well as a new enemy, the Nobodies.

The Nobodies are mysterious white creatures which are created at the same time as a Heartless. You see a Heartless is created from the darkness inside a person's stolen heart. Therefore the Heartless is the manifested form of a dark heart. A Nobody, is the "discarded husk" (so to speak) of a person, a creature with no heart. Sora also learns of Organization XIII, which consists of 13 (duh) of the most powerful Nobodies which control the rest of the lesser Nobodies. The Organization is after something, but I won't reveal it here.

During the game you'll travel to various worlds, both new and old and track down the Organization. At the same time, Sora is looking for his lost friend Riku, whom is known to be alive thanks to a bit of information from King Mickey, whom has a much larger role in this game. I'll leave it at that so as not to ruin anymore of the game for you.


Ooo! Shiny!


Gameplay:

(note: If I talk about everything in the gameplay department then we'll be here all day so I'm mainly gonna stick to what's new)


The gameplay has definitely gone through a lot of changes, both good and bad. First and foremost, lets talk about the fighting/action system...

I call it the fighting/action system because it is a little bit of both. The game still features the menu in the lower left hand corner of the screen which will give you various actions which are mainly for combat, such as Attack, Magic, Summon, etc. However there have been quite a few things added to this.

First off there are new actions added, such as the "Party" command, which allows you the ability to switch party members on the fly! This is a welcome addition to the original formula of having to reach a save point to switch people in and out.

Another new addition is the "Limit" command. This command allows you to use a combination attack with another member of your party (pending of course they have the right ability equipped). This ability will allow you to inflict massive amounts of damage on all/most enemies on the screen at the cost of your entire MP bar.

The new addition on the menu bar you will be using most, however, is the "Drive" command. This command allows you to combine with another or both members of your party (think Voltron even though only the color of your clothing changes, you don't have the other character sticking out of you or anything) and unleash more powerfull attacks with Sora. With some of these new "Forms" you actually get a pair of Keyblades to dual-wield! For example, if you combine with Goofy, you change into the Valor Form which is a "physical attack only" form but gains the dual-wield ability to inflict massive damage. Combining with Donald on the other hand, will change you into the Wisdom Form in which you literally glide at high speeds around the area and you get to unleash spell after spell on your adversaries. The forms are not permanent, of course. In fact, to actually use the forms you must fill up the "Drive Gauge" (in the lower right hand corner above your HP and MP). As you use the Drives, the gauge depletes until it is empty or you "Revert" into your original form. (side-note: Summons also use the Drive gauge, so use them both wisely).

The last new addition is the Reaction Commands. These commands allow you to do anything from talk to someone, to doing special moves simply by pressing the Triangle button. In the later stages of the game for example, boss fights actually require you to use Reactions to gain the upper hand, or lose a large amount of health or worse...(with the Reaction Commands, think God of War)

A couple minor changes in the game include the ability to "Auto-Recharge" your MP bar when it is empty, "Auto-Refill" your item slots, chests can be opened in battle, and a few changes to the magic spells (i.e. Blizzard now works like Fire did in the previous games, Gravity and Aero have been completely removed/replaced, and Cure now heals you and every party member nearby at the cost of all your MP)

The gripes I have about the gameplay are varied however. Mainly the fact that the game is really easy. For example, I didn't find myself using magic all that much except to heal because the use of Forms and Physical Attacks could take care of mostly all the enemies in the game (not counting the use of Reaction Commands of course) especially against the bosses! Speaking of the bosses, they just weren't as challenging as some of the ones in the previous game. This is both a pro and a con as this means that you won't spend an eternity getting frustrated at some minor Disney villian kicking your CENSORED multiple times, but at the same time you don't get much satisfaction from having beaten them. Lastly, the game is just a bit too slimmed down and linear. In my first run alone I managed to get the "Secret Ending" which was very hard to do in the original KH.

Don't let the cons deter you though as the pros far outweigh them and make for a fun experience.


Sora's Valor Form with the Kingdom Key and the Oathkeeper Keyblades


Graphics:

There's not too much to say in terms of graphics. The main look of the game is pretty much the same as the last. Wonderful art direction has created beautiful levels for you to behold as usual and the character models definitely look pretty much the same. Exceptions to this are the costumes on Sora, many of the Final Fantasy characters (especially Cloud and the newly added Tifa who sport their Advent Children outfits), as well as some others.

One thing you will also notice is that the FMVs look much, much better, adding a level of graphical enhancement so that the characters almost look real...minus Goofy, Donald, and Mickey of course whom look CG'ed to the core in those sequences which isnt necessarily bad...

As in the last game, Sora, Donald, and Goofy's look changes based on the level they are in, such as in the level Space Paranoids (i.e. "the Tron level") the three wear cool armor and helmets with blue, glowing lines in them much like the characters in the original movie and in the Pride Rock level (The Lion King) Sora actually becomes a lion cub, while Goofy turns into a land turtle, and Donald is...uh a bird...yeah...

These changes unfortunately don't happen on each level though, which is especially evident in the well-detailed Port Royal level (Pirates of the Carribean) where all the characters look life-like, except Sora, Donald, Goofy, and the Heartless whom look extremely out-of-place.


"You guys must be from a different world, 'cause you're much more colorful and less detailed than me!" -Jack Sparrow


Sound:

Sound is a key part in this game. The music in this game has really been spruced up adding new instruments to the mix. This allows for revamps of stage music for various levels inthe game (especially the Hallow Bastion stage which I found very pleasing). One stage's music and sound I really loved was Space Paranoids'. The music sounded like an old 8-bit game with sound to match. I oddly found it pleasing to hear the sound of Sora and Tron's digitized "doing-doing" footsteps in that world.

The voice-overs were very well done as well. There is quite a cast this time around including many of the original voices for Disney characters (such as Captain Barbosa's from PotC). As for the rest of the characters, Sora is voiced this time around by Haley Joel "I See Dead People" Osment and Jesse McCartney plays Roxas to name a couple.

It seemed like the Final Fantasy characters got the short end of the stick with some of their dialouge ("We totally owned you lamers!" -Seifer) however their voices were done pretty well too. In fact for a few of the FF7 characters, the same people will be doing their Advent Children voices when the movie finally comes out this month in English. Also the FF10 characters (yes there's more than just Auron in this game kiddies) all got their original voice-over cast in the game. Awesome...


Extras:

This game as I said before is very linear, so there isn't a whole lot of extras. The mini-games, though fun, only held my attention for a little while. This includes the completely re-done Gummi Ship levels which were a ton better than the original game, but still had that on-rails feel, therefore once you completed it once, you saw no reason to go back and do it again because you can just automatically warp to levels after completing the initial Gummi stage.

As for the rest, yes Sephiroth is still here and he will still crush you if you try to beat him at lower levels (< level 70) but that only goes so far. Same with the Underdrome Tournaments (same as the ones in the Hercules level in the last game).

The only thing really worth your time is the secret ending which you get by completing all levels and filling the journal to completion on the "Normal" difficulty and by completing all stages in the "Proud" (hard) difficulty.

Final Thoughts:

Despite the fact that there were a large amout of cons in this game, such as the easy difficulty, it was still a very good game. The story is gripping and kept me guessing at certain points (which I utterly love) and the gameplay itself, though flawed, was still fun. I feel that the game could have been much better if it weren't so damn linear. Had they have fixed that I would have given it a much better score (yes, despite being very enthusiastic about this game, I'm not going to have a bias while scoring it).


Scores:

Gameplay: 7.5

Graphics: 9.0

Sound: 10.0

Extras: 7.0

Average Score: 8.4 (rounded)

Overall: 8.5
"I've gotten 2,415 times smarter since then." -Master Control Program    Modified Apr 3rd, 06:10pm by CommanderViper
SkipRat    Posted 4th Apr 2006 12:00pm
Post 1424 / 3024
Nice review.

is that goofy? And donald duck?#

And i just noticed. The bloke from pirates of the carrabien?????
Meh...    Modified Apr 4th, 12:01pm by SkipRat
Assaultman67    Posted 4th Apr 2006 1:19pm
Post 928 / 4376
Kingdom hearts is a Disney game ... so it has Disney characters in it.

I haven't played it before though.
   



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