Kingdom Hearts II
Review by KFantasy017
"Average. Got it memorized?"
Ah, Kingdom Hearts II. This game spawned my multiple accounts on GameFAQ. Starting in July of 2003, I have been on GameFAQ, patiently waiting for this game to finally be released to America so that I may enjoy the rich plot and gameplay that I did with its predecessors Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Sadly, this game does not deliver like I had hoped. This is not to say that it is a horrible excuse for a game, but I cannot give this game the perfect 10 I wanted, or for that matter the 8 or 9 that I wanted to.
The strongest part of an RPG by far. Kingdom Hearts had a terrific story, Chain of Memories had an excellent story, Kingdom Hearts II has a relatively good story ruined by plot holes and bad pacing.
You begin the game as Roxas, a mysterious blonde haired boy wearing clothes that perfectly blend white and black together, adding more to his wonder. You play as Roxas for roughly two and a half hours for the prologue of the game, spanning six in game days, uncovering the mysteries that have been daring fans to solve since he was revealed in late 2003. The story here is VERY good, actually. It starts of somewhat slow, but picks up by the third day and continues to grow to be the best part of the game, leading to an eventual showdown with a certain member of Organization XIII that has been showcased for just as long as Roxas.
The twists and turns are interesting and a bit confusing, which is perfect. However, a mere hour after you begin playing as Sora and you go to your first Disney world, you realize that you may not be getting as much story as you liked. With the exception of the Secret Ansem Reports (which you only receive 2/3 of before the plot picks up again) are the only interesting things in the game, but they chronicle KH through KH:CoM to a few extra details unknown before this game, such as the origin of the Organization XIII. Every Disney world the first time through, with the exception of The Underworld, has no impact on the storyline overall at all. Yes, I said the first time through. You have to play through about 6 worlds before getting anymore storyline, and it is short at that. Afterwards, you must backtrack through levels already beaten to defeat another enemy or two, occasionally meeting an Organization member. However, even with these Org. members, the only worlds that have any interesting storyline are the returning level of Hollow Bastion and two new worlds, Twilight Town and The World That Never Was. So after tracking through tons of heartless, new enemies called nobodies, and a few boss fights, you are presented with a sudden revolution of storyline in the last two worlds. So, you must wait 30 hours after the prologue to pick it up again. If there was better pacing, more spread out storyline, or even more airtime for the original characters, it would have been more enjoyable.
Due to this storyline being crammed together at the ending, very few characters stand out. There are several characters that serve no purpose other than to be boss fights, such as Xigbar, Xaldin, Demyx, and Luxord. There are only four Organization members needed to present a good plot: Axel, Saix, and two who I dare not give their names, as they are rather large spoilers. I'll just say that they are numbers 1 and 13 of the Organization. Roxas, who was a very promising character, left after the prologue and returned for 2-4 scenes at the end. Axel was in about 5-6 scenes total, Saix was in about the same as Axel, and the final boss was in even less scenes.
Now, on to plot holes. Most people will argue that this game has very few plotholes, or that everything has plot holes, but the former is untrue and the latter is a pointless statement that doesn't cover up the flaws. Me and a friend from the boards came up with at least 12 plotholes, but I cannot say any of them for obvious reasons. I can understand one or two holes, but 12? That's ridiculous.
If you can manage to keep your attachment to the characters through the 30 hours of filler, you will enjoy the storyline, but if not, I wish you luck.
I'm done describing the story, I'm getting a bit angry as I type this.
This is the redeeming aspect, depending on how you look at it.
The battle system is very fun and enjoyable, with the newly added reaction commands adding much to boss fights and even regular fights. Executed by pressing triangle at certain moments that the game clearly indicates, you can do things that you didn't think possible in this game. Not to mention the drive feature. By 'fusing' with another character, you get to go into a different drive mode. Driving with Goofy gives Valor form, a more strength oriented form, Donald gives Wisdom form, which is magic oriented, fusing with both gives the Master Form, which is strength and magic oriented. There is also a Final Form, which is the most powerful. I as of yet do not have it, so I can't give details on how to activate it, but I imagine it is the same as Master Form. Also, there is an Anti-Form, which is somewhat of a penalty for driving too much. It can only attack, Sora gains no EXP while in this form, and you take 2x the damage, but you move very fast and can land huge combos. It's up to the player if this is a good form or not, so I won't comment.
The exploration element is gone however. No trinities, no dalmations, etc. The most collecting you can do is treasure hunting to find every treasure chest and collecting the torn pages for 100 Acre Wood again. Worlds also feel very linear and are smaller than the first game. The reason for this, again, is the story pacing. The worlds are split into two divisions, so you really don't feel like you're getting anything out of them either time through, and the worlds that do deliver are the original worlds, not the Disney based worlds. A main selling point of the original game was being able to adventure and explore around the Disney worlds you grew up with. In Kingdom Hearts II, you really only just follow the storyline and leave. I wish this could be easily overlooked, but it can't. The game had a kickass battle system, but lacked the unique and exciting worlds to use it in.
Sound and Graphics
These two categories don't get very much description due to the lack of things to say about them. The graphics are stunning and very detailed, while the sound effects blend perfectly with the music. Everything from battle music to battle cries and weapon noises are spot on perfect, being the best quality of this game by far. The voice actors, for the most part (I'm looking at you, Aerith), are very good, giving each character a unique identity. The actors and actresses for new characters (Christopher Lee, Jesse McCartney, Quinton Flynn, etc.) all do a spectacular job of bringing the characters to life and livening the lackluster storyline.
This game takes roughly 30+ hours to beat the first time through, varying on difficulty level and if you do mini games inbetween. Longer than most recent RPGs, but a little too long for it's own good. If you try to complete everything, you can very well get to 70+ hours, which some people like, some people hate. Personally, I like games that take me a while to complete everything, so it is a good thing. Other people may say differently, but I'm the one writing the review, so their opinions don't count.
There is virtually no replayability other than a harder difficulty. You get one optional boss that is a rehash from the first, little collecting outside of treasure hunting and collecting synth items, and tedious mini games. The storyline, for the most part, isn't enough to make you want to replay the game all the way through, especially because you can have multiple save files to view certain scenes whenever you want.
Average of 6.5
Play at your own risk. Don't rent it, since it is a bit too long to do so, but try and borrow from a friend if you can.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/10/06, Updated 08/31/07
Game Release: Kingdom Hearts II (US, 03/28/06)
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