Review by WingedRegent
"One of the best RPG's of all time!"
When Kingdom Hearts originally came out in 2002, many people saw the combination of Disney and Square-Enix to be a bad deal, citing the addition of Disney characters. The main note was that the Disney characters would make the game too kiddy. However, when the game came out, this game was an automatic hit, becoming one of the best selling games for the PS2. It was such a success that Square decided to release Kingdom Heats: Final Mix in Japan a year later, including many of the abilities that would later be used for KHII. Yet another year later, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was released, with a unique card-battle system unique to the game for the GBA. Finally, a year later, a full-fledged sequel to Kingdom Hearts was released in the form of Kingdom Hearts II.
The graphics in this game are phenomenal. The detail to the characters outfits and the appearance of the magic effects are incredibly well done, making this one of the most beautiful games on the PS2. Also, the CGI cutscenes look fantastic when shown. How each and every world was designed for this game is great and shows incredible attention to detail, even getting the most minute points of each world down into the game. Easily, one of the best looking games on the PS2.
The sound in this game is also well done. The sounds of your attacks vary, changing depending on which Keyblade you use. However, each sound when you strike matches the Keyblade almost perfectly. The music sounds fantastic in this game as well. From Sanctuary to the remade version of One-Winged Angel, each song sounds great and fits the current theme. Many songs that were featured in the Disney movies represented in this game also return in a slightly remixed version, such as Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid and This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Overall, nice music that sticks in your head for days.
The controls in this game are very good and have no fault in them. Each button press is responsive and does a designated job. The new Reaction Command system is used under the Triangle button, which is fitting when it comes to certain battles. Controls do not play much into the game as one may think, as the battle system is a menu type of thing. Overall, nothing wrong can be said about the controls.
The game begins where KH: Chain of Memories left off. If you didn't play CoM, however, do not worry, as the story is still understandable to a degree without it. You begin the game as Roxas in the world known as Twilight Town. You start here as the game's "Tutorial Section" in a way, as everything about the controls and what certain terms and menu selections mean is found here. You will also run into the new enemies of the game while here: the Nobodies. The Nobodies are a good addition to the game, adding variety to the formerly Heartless-only game. After completing multiple objectives, you will regain control of Sora. Here is where the game picks up.
After gaining control of Sora, you begin to explore the town a bit more, and then, you finally get to go out of that world and see what worlds you get to travel, Each world is unique in it's own way, making each world a different experience. For instance, one world will have you fighting off Heartless and Nobodies in Beast's Castle, while another world will have you singing songs with Sebastian and Ariel in Atlantica. Many worlds, such as Atlantica, have also been remade for this game, allowing you to either explore a different section of that world previously unseen in KH, or fulfill new objectives in that world. These new changes make this game original to the very end.
The battling in the game is the same as the original. Instead of pressing buttons to do different attacks, a menu is setup during a battle. From there, you can choose your options with the right analog stick and press X to do the action you chose. Sometimes, during extremely hectic battles, you may have to retreat from the battle a bit to select an option, but that is only a minor annoyance at best.
The magic system was also improved in this game. Now, you can set Magic spells under a new selection called the Shortcut Menu, which can be accessed in battle with the L2 button. This option allows you to set up to 4 types of Magic or Equipped items on the 4 "face" buttons of the controller. Once there, you can hold L2 and press any one of those buttons to do the action designated to that button. Also, the Magic has been improved in the fact that you can now make several combos in the game with your magic. So, anytime during a combo with your Keyblade, you can interrupt that combo for any magic spell. The same could be said for Magic spells, as you can be casting Fire twice in a row, but cast Thunder the next second with no break in between the two spells. Magic is now a much more vital part of battling thanks to this new feature.
The new Reaction Command system is a very cool and fun new feature, During certain points in a battle, if a special action is available, you can initiate it by pressing the Triangle button. While some fights have a command that almost works like a dodge or counterattack , others initiate a long string of Reaction Commands, eventually ending in a very cool final command.
Another new combat feature is the "Limit" ability. Each character has a Limit that they can execute in conjunction with Sora. Each Limit is different depending on the character you have in your party. However, each ally does have a Limit, with certain character eventually gaining a second one later on. Each Limit a basically a combination of pressing the X button and the Triangle Button with the right rhythm and timing to get the most out of the limit. Overall, the Limits are a very cool addition to battling, making it even more fun than before.
Another new feature in this game is the ability to change form with the help of Donald and Goofy. The game contains something called "Drive Forms" which allow Sora's appearance to change and gain new abilities. These forms range from Offensive to Magic Based to Well-Balanced. Each form has a level perimeter as well, going up to a certain level until you gain either a new form or an added Drive Gauge. The Drive Gauge is what allows you to transform in the game. By the end of the game, each Drive Form will be able to go up to Level 7. Each Drive Form also has unique abilities as well. As you level up the Drive Forms, Sora will be able to use those abilities without being in the Drive Form. He will also learn different abilities from developing the Drive Forms such as Combo Plus. Another cool thing about the Drive Forms is that all but one of them allows you to wield two Keyblades instead of one, allowing for cool and unique combos to each form. This is a great new addition and helps make fighting original and fun.
Another added bonus is that now, Summons have their own levels to obtain. Each summon can go up to a certain level until you get the next summon. By the time you reach the end of the game, each summon will be able to go up to Level 7. The higher the summon level, the more time they are allowed to stay out and the more damage they can do in a battle.
This game also adds "Bonus Levels" in the game. During certain sections of the worlds you travel, an objective will appear at the top of the screen. If you fulfill that objective, Sora and the other will either gain HP, MP, or a new ability. The abilities you gain from the bonuses are only obtained through those objectives, making it important to get those abilities.
You also a Jiminy Journal to complete, which can be and extremely difficult side-quest to complete. Many of the objectives in the Jiminy Journal only require you to go through each world and meet every character. other, however, will ask you to break specific records. For example, one of the requirements will ask you to get around 500 points on a skateboarding quest. Another will ask you to go through a certain task in less than a certain time.
One of the hardest side-quests in the game, however, is the Underdrome Colosseum which takes the place of the Olympus Colosseum in the game. You have to complete this to clear the Jiminy Journal, so overlooking this is not an option really. The final tournament in this is especially hard, almost demanding that the player have the best equipment and be at around Level 99.
The game offers 3 difficulties on which you could try it. They are Beginner, Standard, and Proud. Under the beginner mode, all of the enemies are extremely weak in the game and you will be strong in comparison. Under Standard Mode, you will be evenly matched for the most part against your enemies. Under Proud Mode, however, the enemies gain a huge boost in power, being able to overpower you ,if you are not careful, when you play as Roxas! If you are familiar with KH already, however, Proud Mode may be best for you, as you may have already gone through some of the hardest parts of KH with ease.
Finally, the Gummi Ship system has been re-tooled. When assembling Gummi's, this version is a bit more annoying than KHI's system, but still allows for more customizations to be made on your Gummi. Also, when you fly through a Gummi Mission to reach the next world, you unlock Gummi Ship Stages to clear in that area. There are always 3 in each world, each one becoming harder to do depending on the world and the stage. The Gummi system still needs a little work, but as the Gummi Missions are not required, this is a small oversight.
Overall, this is easily one of the best games ever made on any console and definitely one of the best RPG's ever made.. This game deserves to go up there with the many great SquareSoft/Square-Enix games that have graced the consoles.
Buy, Rent, or Avoid: Buy.
If you haven't bought it yet, but it now! This is an absolute must have for the PS2. If you happen to live in Japan, then buy the Kingdom Heats II: Final Mix+ version of the game for all of the additions made.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/26/07
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