Review by TheLastAvatar05

"Kingdom Hearts is Gold"

I was somewhat hesitant of the idea of Square Enix and Disney actually working together to make a game based on both their series. Regardless as the images and gameplay videos came more and more into public view, I began to take an interest in this game. Kingdom Hearts is a new series that merges two separate franchises into a story of loyalty, betrayal, and romance, between three characters in a world of darkness.

Gameplay (9/10): I was somewhat pleased that they decided to use a more action originated style of combat and exploration compared to the standard drop down menu of attacks or spells per turn. As such, the gameplay involves taking the main character, Sora, and his two new friends, Donald, and Goofy, into various worlds and defeating creatures simply known as The Heartless You combat system involves mashing the triangle while the square is mostly used for blocking or parrying attacks and spells. A magic spell can be used freely during battle and interrupted during execution which is a nice challenging feature. Mashing the triangle button isn't really that hard for beginners and veteran gamers alike though it can be a bit tiring or repetitive. Enemies tend to block or counterattack your characters a lot more or a lot less during battle depending on your difficulty settings. In terms of general combat, it flows smoothly and nicely during gameplay. The only problem is that the camera control system can be plain right annoying whether your battling against enemies or exploring various towns or worlds. The camera angle is not one of the best configurations within this game. Constant readjusting the camera angle with the analog stick can be frustrating to do during battle against a boss or cluttered enemies. Finally, like any other typical RPG, leveling up is important and allows your characters to become stronger in various abilities. However, instead of having a balanced stats of defense, attacks, and magic, it forces you to boast one ability and drop another causing a sense of inbalance of the main character and party members. You can assign various accessories and items to your characters to boast their abilities when you buy them from the item shop around towns and various worlds. Finally, the ability to assign various moves to your characters on one of the four direction or d-pad buttons allow execution of moves and combos easy to pull off. Overall, other than the annoying camera angle feature within this game and somewhat repetitive mashing of the attack buttons, gameplay is an excellent strong point within Kingdom Hearts.

Storyline (9/10): Longing for exploration of other worlds other than their own small island of which they have been living on for most of their lives, Sora, Kairi and Riku, make a raft to begin their journey of adventure the following day. However, their Island is attacked by unknown creatures simply called, The Heartless, and Sora is thrusted into a new world without his fellow companions. Worst, he is not only alone and unsure of where he is, but is worried of where his friends are and if he'll ever meet them again. A mysterious weapon called the Keyblade is linked to Sora and uses it to defeat the various heartless attacking him. As Sora, you soon meet up with Donald and Goofy, who are on a quest of their own to meet their king and find the keyblade holder who turns out to be Sora. Journeying together to various worlds to find their lost companions and king, Sora and his new found friends, are thrusted into a world of darkness by sinister enemies with larger plans in mind. In terms of the overall storyline, I felt that it flowed almost flawlessly from the moment you started the game and watched the cinematic intro, to the very end, which wrapped the game nicely for an additional sequel. Meeting various characters from both of the Final Fantasy and Disney series was a nice change of pace and the storyline managed to mesh well that makes it understandable and simple to enjoy. The only compliant that I had was that it seemed a bit too short and somewhat lacking in exploration of the characters development growth from when he started his journey to the very end. Overall, this gets high marks on almost every level in general and I was overwhelmingly pleased.

Graphics (9/10): In terms of the general graphics, you might first look to see that the main characters look very cartoonish or unappealing. However, each one of them, from Sora, to Donald and Goofy, each one of them look actually realistic and detailed. I was overly impressed with the combat system in general. Attacks, magic casting, and combos, look extremely detailed and animated when your various enemies during battle. The enemies have their own personalty and look pretty cool when you battle them for the first time. Some of them tend to look sinister while others have a goofy yet eerie expression on their faces. There are a number of minor features that make the movement of characters feel more realistic. For example, if you make Sora run constantly from place to place, you could actually see him slow down in movement until he stops and gasps for breath. Other areas like running in water and watching your character splash in it or casting shadows across pavement is impressive to witness. Finally, the cinematic scenes actually look awesome to watch right down to the mouthing of each character's words when they speak them out loud. In some other RPG games, it is noticable that the mouthing looks off when characters speak but not in Kingdom Hearts, which I was, impressed and enjoyed. In terms of the overall graphics, I give it high praise on almost every single level. Everything is top notch though the only minor compliant that I had was that the environments can look a bit gritty at times.

Sound (8/10): The sound is the only real compliant that I had in general. While the voicing of characters is nicely picked and acted due to the talent of Haley Joel Osment, David Gallagher, and Hayden Panettiere, the problem lies with Donald and Goofy mostly. I cannot express how annoying it is to hear Donald's squeals or Goofy's constant annoying laughter whenever both of them are attacked by enemies. It tends to sound somewhat unappealing to listen to hear after you hear it once and not the first hundred times or so. Enemies tend to grunt and groan when attacked through not as how you might expect in terms of actual realism. The sound flows somewhat frequently throughout various worlds, some of them playing a theme of a Disney movie like the Alice in Wonderland or The Little Mermaid, which is an nice change of pace. Overall, despite a few major noticable flaws within this game in terms of sound, the voices of Sora, Kairi, and Riku make up for it with a talented cast of actors and actresses.

Replay Value and Closing Comments: In terms of replace value, I felt compelled to play this game over and over again due to it's engaging and enjoyable storyline. There are various side missions and bonus features that are hidden within the game to those that wish to obtain the 100 percent mark. Kingdom Hearts is an excellent change of pace within the RPG universe and I honestly enjoyed playing it each and every time. Beginners and veteran gamers of all ages will enjoy this excellently crafted game in their collection.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/04/08

Game Release: Kingdom Hearts (US, 09/16/02)

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