Review by Malice

Reviewed: 04/04/06

The Passion for Light and Darkness

The Passion for Light and Darkness: Kingdom Hearts 2

If you were to told someone 10 years ago that Disney and Square Enix are making a game together, they will probably say that you're crazy and that it will suck. Now, the game they made together called Kingdom Hearts sold very well and became very famous. KH was a very interesting concept and it was done quite well. It was a game that made the player go to different worlds of different Disney movies and there were also Final Fantasy characters in it. All the Disney worlds have stories that were from the movies, but overall there was a bigger original story going on and it was actually a very great story. KH's main character, Sora uses one of the most unique weapon ever, a huge key, but its not stupid and has something to do with the plot.

One of the main complains before people actually play, was how childish the whole game looked. Yes, the game is colourful with no blood and other mature themes, but that doesn't make it any less fun. If you hate Disney very much, then obviously this game is not for you. If you love both Disney and Square, then you are in for a great experience. There were some flaws from the first KH like the camera angle, repetitive fighting, button mashing, but it have been fixed in KH2. If you love KH1, you will definitely love KH2. If you don't like KH1 that much, I will still suggest trying KH2 out. The sequel is 2 times the fun, 2 times the action and 2 times the greatness.

I present to you, Disney and Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts 2......

Storyline/Presentation

For those who have not played either KH games, you must be wondering if you will be confused by the story. You will definitely be confused by it, you may get to know pieces of it, but not fully. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy it and have fun though. I will strongly suggest playing at least the first KH and you can skip COM if you want or read the game script at this site. You may get lost at first by not playing COM, but you will get to know more of it as you play on, but it's best to play it to know everything fully. If you really don't want to get either of the previous games, then you can read the game scripts or ask questions at the KH2 board. For those who have played both, you are ready to start the new amazing adventure that took place a year after the original KH.

There will be no spoilers for the game so you can read safely. The main characters have all grown up and everything feels new. I'm sure everyone knows the very basic story and that is Sora finding his lost friends. On the way to finding his lost friends, he will encounter with previous allies and make new friends too. Of course, the story is not as simple as that, there is a bigger plot going on and that is for you to find out. Every world that Sora goes to, there will be a small sub story going on there and it's the story of that particular Disney movie. If you have watched that movie before, it feels great to be able to play in it and have a part in it. Even if you know the story, you will not be bored by it, because you are now participating in it too and it feels good to relive your memories of the movie.

Not all the Disney worlds are filler though, sometimes new characters will appear in Disney worlds and tell you what are actually going on towards the bigger major story. Even if some worlds contribute nothing to the story, it is still fun to play in it and enjoy yourself. As you play on, it gets more interesting and you will want to find out more. Some are wondering if the story is darker, I will say yes, kind of. It is definitely better than KH1 and I think everyone will like it. The presentation of the plot is great, the cutscenes are nice to watch and the CG intro is awesome. There are also some Disney humour thrown in there to make you laugh and all. Anyway, be prepared for some engaging and fun time.

Gameplay/Systems

The basic combat is pretty simple. If you played KH1, you will know the default 3-hit combo and of course, the combo will grow as you play on. The X button is the attack button and pressing it different number of times will make different combos. One of the new system of KH2 not found in KH1 is the reaction command and it makes the battles much more cinematic. During times in battle, the screen will flash a green triangle and by pressing the triangle button, you will do different actions depend on the enemy and situation. By using the reaction command, you can dodge attacks in style and it will save you a lot of times. It is best to use it as often as possible, especially on proud mode. Outside of battles, the triangle button is the action button, to talk to people and open chests.The circle button is jump and nothing special about that. The square button is guard if you have the skill equipped and I will talk about skills later on. You can fully control the camera by moving the right analog stick, so all the camera problems of the first KH is sort of solved now.

Like KH1, there is a short cut menu for you to use and you can equip magics or items to it. This will make things less troublesome because you won't want to take your time to select magic and scroll to the one you want in tight situations. There are a total of 4 slots for you to equip any magic or item you want. When your MP finishes, it will charge itself up slowly and you can use this to your advantage or not. A pretty standard battle will have you attacking the enemies, using magic, using reaction commands and items when needed.

There is also a new system in KH2 and that is the drive system. I will not spoil you on the other drive forms so I will talk about the first one that you will get, Valor Form. When using this, Goofy sort of combines with Sora and giving him a new red outfit. Valor is a very offensive type form that will let you attack enemies fast and hard. Your HP and MP will become full everytime you drive and that will help you in boss battles. One unique thing on Valor is that you can now dual wield 2 keyblades at once and you can equip any 2 as you like. When the drive gauge reaches 0, you will revert back and you need to earn back the gauge to drive again. You can also revert anytime you want while in drive form. The forms can be level up by doing different things and leveling up will open more abilities as well as increasing the power.

The AP system is the same as the previous ones, you learn different type of skills like support skills or offensive skills and you need AP to equip them. For the abilities of the drive forms, you can not equip or unequip them, you just learn them. You can control the abilities of the AI characters like for example, you can ask them to use one ability freely or when needed, something like that. The AI is not very good as they seem to go all out on enemies until they die and for Donald, he tends to spam his magic a lot. This may be a good thing or not.

The leveling system is the standard RPG one where you get exp and level up. As you level up, more abilities are open and you get stronger. Another new thing is the Limit move, in every world, there's a character that will join you and together with that character, you can perform a special co-op move. By pressing triangle button a couple of times, you will do a awesome and cool damaging move that is nice to watch. After doing it, your MP will decrease to 0, but it's worth it.

You can now switch your party on the fly and not only at save points. This makes everything less tedious and more to your advantage. There are also summons in this game. The summoning system is the same as the previous one, different summons have different abilities that you can use to deal damage. You can level up your summons too and make them stay longer and stronger. That is roughly all on the battles part of the gameplay and it should give you an idea on what it is like.

Another bad thing about KH, are the gummi ship parts. It was very boring and dull. You can't really lose and the whole space thing was not cool at all. The combat was also slow paced and nothing special. KH2 made the gummi ship parts much more fun and enjoyable. The whole environemnt and interface is different now. The places are nicer and there are a large variety of different enemies to fight. Sometimes there are boss fights too and the combat is much more fast paced. The whole angle and camera of it is cool too, you can also move the camera around. It looks much better and the music is nice too. You can now have fun at the gummi ship parts and maybe even spend time making a nice ship to replay all the missions.

As for the exploring part, it is actually more linear than the first one and there are not really any puzzles at all. It's more like going from point A to point B and killing everything in sight. Sometimes when you can go to more than one path, the game will not allow you to wonder off course and you must take the correct path. In most worlds, you are just moving around, killing enemies and watching cutscenes, but it's not a bad thing though. Sometimes, puzzles can be lame and boring so I prefer how they made it more action. There are still some puzzles or you can call it mini games I guess.

There are a lot of mini games in this one and I won't go into details, but it's a nice break from the combat. Every minigame is different and unique. It will depend on you if you find it nice or not and I personally find it fun. There are quite a number of different enemies in this game and each have their own abilities. The bosses are very fun too course not all the bosses are about attacking it directly, some requires you to do something special in order to attack it. With the reaction commands, boss fights are cool to watch and exciting. A lot of people must be scared if KH2 is a button masher and I will say it is. However, button mashing in KH2 is extremely stylish and fun.

Though it is a button masher, but that doesn't mean you can complete the game just by mashing every chance you can. I started playing from Proud mode so I don't know how easy or hard is Standard mode, but I can say that Proud mode is challenging. I think that standard mode is not too easy, especially the boss fights. If you like a challenge, I suggest starting on Proud mode, you may die a few times, but it's good. Also, the aerial combat of this game is greatly improve and you will find yourself up in the air as often as possible. Yes, the gameplay has it's flaws, but judging from the experience of it, I feel that it's perfect and very fun.

Visual/Audio

The visuals of this game is great and smooth. There are really much FMVs in this game, but those that you will see is great and you can tell from the opening. Nothing much on it, if you played SE's games before especially the FF series, you will know what to expect. As for the ingame graphics, it looked great too. When you arrived at every world, there is a short animation on the name of that world and it looked really cool. This is not a game that aims for realistic graphics, it is more of a cartoony style graphics, but it suits the game very well. I'm sure you don't want to see a extra realistic Donald or Goofy and everything just looked really pleasing to the eyes. Each world has it's own visual style, for example Timeless River is black and white only and Port Royal has very realistic graphics.

The environment and places are similar to the movies of it. The attacking animations looked very very cool with the bright colours and the star sparks. All the magics, moves, summons and items looked great. Enemies and bosses have cool attacks that looked visually impressive. Nothing to complain about, it's perfect.

As for the audio, it really suits the game for both Disney and original music. I don't know about you, but I like the theme song of KH2. Utada Hikaru is back to do KH2's theme song called Sanctuary and it fits the game. When going to the worlds, you will hear familiar Disney music from that movie and it just makes you feel happy if you like Disney. Some of the original music are very very nice too and if you like KH1's OST, you will like this. The music is as good as the last one and maybe even better. The voice acting generally is great too, but there are a few characters that sounded off, but nothing too bad. The sound effects are perfect and made you every moves felt more real. Visual and audio are definitely one of KH2's strong points.

Conclusions/Overalls

After reading all that, more or less in you mind you have already decided if you like it or not. If by reading that, hypes you up even more then go get it right now and play it right away. If you are still having doubts, you should still try it and don't judge the game by the long 3 hours introduction. This is a great game, much better than the first one and it improved on it. It may still have some flaws, but it will not distract you from having fun. This game may not have the best gameplay, but this game is extremely fun and enjoyable. For both a Disney and SE fan like myself, it felt great to visit Disney worlds and interact with them. It is also cool to see FF characters around and helping you. Everyone should at least give this game a try no matter what. If you hate both Disney and SE, KH2 may even make you like both of them. The gameplay may be dull to some, but the story and worlds will make you want to go back for more. That is all I can say, perfect.

10/10


Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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