Review by Jinn_Remona
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days - Still Without "Online Multiplayer"
Kingdom Hearts. A game known by many for it's amazing gameplay, story and large supply of Disney characters, along with original characters. When the first Kingdom Hearts came out, I can truthfully say, I didn't think much of it for quite a long time. The thought of Disney characters all in one game, didn't click until I was forced to play the game. Now I am glad that I was forced, as Kingdom Hearts has become one of my favourite games.
This time, we have Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. A game developed by h.a.n.d. Inc. and Square Enix, and revolves around the backstory of Roxas, The Nobody of Sora, the main protagonist of the Kingdom Hearts world. The game leads you along his journey as one of the members of Organization XIII, a group of the strongest Nobodies, to when we were first introduced to him in Twilight Town in Kingdom Hearts 2. Along the way, Roxas visits many worlds, and meets many people. With that, let's move on.
This is where most people would try and compare the graphics of the game to the PS2 variations of the Kingdom Hearts series. Though, even that statement is just wild speculation. I will not though. The graphics during the few and far full videos are exactly like they were in Kingdom Hearts 2, but with slightly less quality. As for the in game graphics, it's a varied opinion.
Though there were times when you could clearly see where they didn't put attention into the details, like on everyones hands during gameplay, which looked like boxes, at other times, usually when very large Heartless were around, a fair amount of detail was put into them. One thing I did not like personally, was that were only so many Heartless, but tons of different variations for each. To me, that just felt like a lazy and simple approach. There were some original and unique creatures, but a fair majority of the time, your fighting something you fought last mission, but slightly bigger and using a different element.
The Worlds were nicely made, most of them looking almost exactly like they were in Kingdom Hearts, which made it alot easier to navigate. Though, each world added something new somewhere, so as to add more onto some of the smaller worlds. The World That Never Was, was the world I greatly enjoyed running through, for however of a short time it was, as it was exactly the same design as in Kingdom Hearts 2.
Attacks and magic were nicely made, and having each upgraded version of Magic doing a different thing, instead of making it slightly stronger, was very welcomed, making me think of what types of magic to bring into battle, and when to use it. Keyblades were nice, and changed as your placed new Gears into your panels. Though, like the enemies, some of the Keyblades were the same, with color changes. Another thing that I disliked.
The controls for the game are fairly good, but feels limited at first without the mass amount of button that are usually present on a PS2 controllers. Camera Control is very limited at the beginning of the game as the camera can only be move manually with the R Button, which shoots it behind you instead of turning around you.
This is settled though when you are given the option to change over to Camera B, where the camera turns around the player with the shoulder buttons, and to remedy the Shortcut Button being turned into a Camera Movement Button, the Shortcut turns into holding both the Shoulders down. This took some time to get used to. You could also press select and get free control over the camera with the directional pad, but you are forced to stand still while doing it, so using it on the fly isn't good.
Gliding around, once your gain the ability, was very fluid and simple, and made travelling short and long distances much faster, and more entertaining.
Gameplay in this game, was at times, repetitive, but hardly noticeable when you near the end of the game. The game involves undertaking constant missions, with little to no free roam capability that is usually in Kingdom Hearts style games. It was rare when you came to a group of enemies that wasn't very last in the game, that couldn't easily be dispatched with a Limit Break/Final Limit. The real challenge was in the Challenge Mode, where you would replay missions with specific objectives in mind, from beating it as fast as possible, to jumping as little as possible.
The Panel System was a nice add on and change of pace from the usual Kingdom Hearts way of adding skills, forcing people to think about how to go into each missions, depending on what they will encounter in the Missions, and what kind of items, magic and skills to bring with them. At first, bringing everything you want to Missions is difficult, but when you gain the ability to start expanding the amount of Panels you can equip, your options expand and thinks really start to get more strategic.
Multiplayer Mode was a welcome addition, but the exclusion of the ability to go onto WiFi to play with friends from across the country, took away a fair amount of my hopes of using this mode more then a few times. Those few times, were for the benefit of this review. Being able to play as all the known Organization Members was great. For the first time, I could go into battle, not with a Keyblade, but with 6 Spears, or a Sitar, or even some Throwing Knives. This allowed for people to play as their favorite characters, with some other unlockable characters, for those who just don't like using the Organization Members. Just like Roxas in Story Mode, each of their weapons change when they are equipped with different weapons, and each were given novelty weapons to be earned with Challenge Sigils.
Other then this, Multiplayer is much like Story Mode, but with a Fours Swords twist to it, where each person has to gather points throughout the missions, and the winner gets a Mission Crown to get some freebies with. The Missions are the exact ones undertaken during Story Mode, so by the time your prepared to take them on, you know them well enough that everyone will rushing right for the goal from the get go.
Personally, I don't intend to use this mode after this review is posted. It's taken the path of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Rings of Fates, and only being Local Wifi, forcing your to find friends to play with, when most of the world is online.
Sound. There isn't much to say on this part, so I'll try and keep it short and sweet. The music in each world is the exact same as it was in Kingdom Hearts. Some of the music was taken from Kingdom Hearts 2 as well, depending on the situation and area, and never had I found myself listening to a new song. This may have been because I shut the volume off by the half way point from growing tired of hearing the same music. The vocals were spot on for each character, being the same Voice Actors from Kingdom Hearts 2, and/or, Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories. Sound effects fit what they were set to, but weren't anything special.
This is where I'll try and avoid any major spoilers, but still try and convey what I'm trying to say.
I enjoyed the story when it comes down to the line, as it explained many things that I had always wondered about Castle Oblivion, and Roxas. The story is about the 358 days that Roxas is within Organization XIII, and the missions he undertakes to support their cause. As the days tick on, he befriends Xion and Axel, and the three become best friends, spending their time towards at the Clock Tower, enjoying Ice Cream. Soon things start to twist around both Roxas and Xion's world, and soon things go from happy to chaotic.
I can't say much more without really spoiling anything specific, but I'll leave on the note that the story alone was enough for me to enjoy this game.
Overall, this is a good game. It has the long and enjoyable Story Mode, explaining the life of Roxas and Xion, and Multiplayer Mode, for those who actually have offline friends who share the same interests as them. The Panel System was one of my favourite things to fiddle around with, changing it around depending on my Missions. Of course it has it's flaws, and big ones at times, but nothing that one would get extremely frustrated over.
Rent or Buy: Buy
The sheer length of the game would suggest me to recommend you buy the Game if you intend to use it for Multiplayer Only. To actually be able to play with those friends, you must be the same Rank as them, and you can only gain more rank by proceeding through Story Mode. You can use Guest Mode for a short while if you don't have a Story Mode Save File, but there is no option to save, and thus, no real advancement within it if you use it.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (US, 09/29/09)
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