Review by KFantasy017
"Absolute king of RPGs this generation."
Kingdom Hearts is a game that was developed by Square-Enix that included characters from both Disney movies, and Final Fantasy games. Many are skeptical about the idea, but others love it. The game also features many worlds from Disney movies as well.
Over the course of this review, I'll give you my opinion of this mix of companies.
The story of Kingdom Hearts is about a 14 year old boy named Sora, who, without knowing it, was destined to wield the keyblade. But, that's rewind to a bit before that.
Sora lives on Destiny Islands, along with his friends, Kairi and Riku. They do the same old stuff everyday, and eventually decide that they want to try and see other worlds. The three decide to build a raft, and set sail to find other worlds.
After building the raft, the three decide to set sail the next day. During the night, a storm befalls Destiny Islands. When Sora goes out to check if the raft was ok, well, if I went any further, I would spoil the game.
Don't be fooled though. The game may seem to have a childish and simple plot, but this is actually one of the deepest plots of any recent Square game. The characters are very well developed, and throughout the entire game, I was unsure of the villain's motives until the very end. The story kept me on the edge, waiting to find out how it ended.
Many of the characters that seemed care-free turned into serious characters that understood what was going on, and what they needed to do.
The ending was spectacular. It really gave the story even more of an epic feel.
There are a few things that might have some gamers very ticked off though.
During the game, there are a few corny lines that could get annoying. Also, many gamers find the addition of Disney characters very childish, but, they actually add a lot to the story in terms of emotion and, dare I say it, coolness.
Another thing is that many of worlds in this game have the same story as their original movie, altered slightly to fit Sora in it, but this can easily be looked around. In fact, I didn't even notice it until somebody on the boards mentioned it.
The gameplay in this game is good, but nothing great.
I'll start with the battle system.
The battle system is set in real time, which means that you run around as Sora, and use a menu to do different things (such as attack and use magic/items/summons.) and your teammates (which consist of Donald, Goofy, and a character belonging to the world you are currently in.) will fight as well. The menu can be a problem though. Before you gain the Cure spell (which is fairly early, so don't be upset when I say the next part.), navigating the menu screen to get to a simple potion can be frustrating. You run around using the Left Analog Stick, using the Right Analog Stick to scroll down (or up) in menus. Then, you hit X to bring up another menu where you pick which item you which to use. Then ANOTHER menu comes up, and has you choose which character you want to use it on. Very frustrating.
Fortunately, for spells, you do not have to go through the same thing. You can set three spells on a quick menu that allows you to quickly use a spell.
Speaking about spells, by the end of the game, only two or three spells are actually of any use to you. All of the spells that are helpful, are defensive to boot.
The AI the AI in the game is average at best. The enemies will attack once in a while, but they often either sit still, or just run around aimlessly. It seems that Square focuses more on the boss AI then the normal AI. Even Donald and Goofy aren't that smart. Donald would run into battle and waste his magic away in seconds, and Goofy would transfer his over to Donald, who would once again waste it all, leaving you there to heal the entire party, and fight.
Now, if you can look past those things, the gameplay isn't all that bad. It is very fun, and some bosses can be challenging.
After a while, the menus get very easy to navigate. By the second world, you should have it down.
The pause menu is VERY easy to navigate. In the menu, you can set equipment, abilities, which items you can use, what spells go on your shortcut menu. You can also check your items, munny, exp, levels, and more. Very simple to figure out, which as always, is a good thing.
What I meant when I said, which items you can use, was that in the menu, you gave characters items. The characters have a limited amount of slots to equip items on, but as your level increases, the more slots you gain.
To learn abilities, you must gain levels. During the opening tutorial, you have to pick weather you want to fight with a staff, sword, and shield. Then you must give one weapon up. Your combination determines a few stats (like if you pick the shield, your hp is higher, but if you toss the sword, your strength is lower.), and it determines which abilities you learn at certain levels. I won't go any further into this, as there is a guide on the site for this type of things.
The equipment system is pretty cool too. Some items increase hp and protect against the dark element, while others raise your defense and protect against the fire element. Some weapons lower your attack, but increase your magic, while other are average stats, but deal a string of critical attacks. It is easy to understand, but slightly difficult to master.
Right from the start, the music is fantastic. From Simple and Clean, to the Traverse Town theme, all the music is very memorable, and IMHO, is one of Square's best soundtracks yet. Each world has music to fit it's mood (I would explain a bit more, but I don't want to spoil the Disney worlds that are in the game for you, if you haven't played/beaten the game before that is.), and they seem as if they could be from the Disney movies themselves.
The sound is very good as well. Everything seems on the dot, whether it is Sora yelling when it battle, to the footsteps, everything is right. Everything.
Voice acting is great too. Square hired very good actors to voice original characters, as well as the Final Fantasy characters. Most Disney characters have their original voice actors as well. Personally, my favorite voice actor was Billy Zane, who did the voice of Ansem.
In all seriousness, I really can't think of anything wrong in this portion of the game
The graphics in this game are superb. Each character shows facial expressions that are appropriate to the scene. The CGI graphics are some of the best I have seen on the PS2, which makes me wonder why they decided to only use three of them in the game. I believe that I saw some of the characters hair move during the game as well, which is good because it means that Square acknowledged the little details in this game, as well as the big ones.
Some of the animations are a little bit slow, but it doesn't happen often.
The game took me around 40 hours to complete on my first time through, that was without the side-quests in the game. With side-quests/leveling up, the game takes anywhere from 50-70 hours. The game is long enough to keep new players occupied, though experienced players or hardcore fans of the game will find it rather short. (A recent file I have has the secret movie requirements and a few extra things with only 12 hours clocked in.)
For replayability, you will be able to go through this game a couple more times after completing it the first time. I have played through the game about four times already, and I am planning on going through a fifth decently soon.
The thing is, the game doesn't have very many side-quests, so you will pretty much be doing the same thing every time you go through the game.
Buy or Rent?
I would say this game is definitely a worthwhile buy, but if you are still unsure, rent the game. It costs five dollars, and you can form your own opinion based off how far you play. If you like it and haven't beaten it when you have to return it, buy it. If you don't like it/beat it, then return it. But come on, the game is $20 used, I think you could dish out the cash to buy it. It would be worth your money.
Final Score: 9
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/01/04, Updated 08/31/07
Game Release: Kingdom Hearts (US, 09/16/02)
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