When I first heard about Square-Enix’s decision to release another RPG based around one of my favorites on PS2 I was thrilled. Since that day I have been reading weekly updates about the game, watching the brief game play videos, and hearing what other gamers who enjoyed the first one had to say. After a couple of years of anticipation, it is finally here… Kingdom Hearts II! Would it live up to the hype?
The start of the game puts the player in control of a confused teenager named Roxis. Over the course of a 3-4 hour prologue, several bizarre things will occur before you are happily commanding Sora’s every move once again. Just like last time Donald and Goofy accompany him on his Journey.
In addition to the Heartless that are back in force from the original Kingdom Hearts, another group known only as Organization XIII are plotting something as the head of the Nobodies. That’s right…. Nobodies. The game does a pretty good job explaining the existence of Nobodies and what they are, even if the reasoning is a bit silly.
Once again you will travel to many different worlds helping out the characters of Disney movies past. Mulan, Winnie the Pooh, Beast, Jack Sparrow, and others make guest starring appearances in this adventure. Also Final Fantasy Characters such as Leon, Yuffie, and Seifer make appearances. Any fan of Disney movies and Disney characters or the Final Fantasy series will love this aspect of the game once again. If you like both than you are in for another treat!
That’s the basic concept of the game. Now let’s look at some of the technical aspects.
Graphics: Stunning about describes the visual presentation. Square-Enix paid very close attention to the details of the characters and landscapes. Could be the most beautiful game on PS2 yet. Load times from screen to screen are fast, but due to the high resolution of the digital images, there are sometimes more of these than necessary. Still, this is tolerable.
Sound: The musical score is incredible as well. The music really does an outstanding job of setting the mood for any particular scene. There are different musical scores for different worlds, making the fact that it is all so enjoyable even more remarkable. As for the voice acting, well let me just give you a list of a few of the people Square-Enix and Disney were able to coax into offering up their vocal talents. Haley Joel Osment, David Gallagher, Hayden Panettiere, Jesse McCartney, Christopher Lee, Mena Suvari, Sean Astin, James Woods, David Boreanaz, Christy Carlson Romano, and others with terrific voice talents. The voice acting in this video game is better than the vocal dialogue in some movies.
Game play: The game play is a lot like the first Kingdom Hearts videogame. You run around a lot on a Disney World, beat the bejesus out of the bad guys with your Keyblade, hook up with your allies for extremely powerful attacks, and save the universe! Simple right? Perhaps! Unless you are a brand new action RPG player DO NOT play this game on easy mode. I repeat, DO NOT play this game on easy mode. The reason is just that, well, it is too easy. Standard is easy enough, trust me. Sora, Donald, Goofy, and your allies that you meet along the way are very powerful in this game. The basic button smashing attack is good enough in most instances, however when you want that special powered up attack to totally wipe out a boss…. it’s there. It’s extremely fun to watch Sora power up and just whack the candy out of the bosses like you’d imagine him destroying a piñata at a birthday party. However, there is not much challenge in it either. Nevertheless it is still entertaining, and if you play the game on standard difficulty or harder you should be plenty entertained.
The Gummi ship is back in this game as well. Playing through the space levels is much more entertaining this time around. The designers clearly went out of their way to improve this part of the game. Now the space flights feel like mini games of Gradius III except in a fully 3-D environment. They last for 3-4 minutes a level and are also fun to play.
Story: I’ve touched on this a little bit already. The story takes you to many different worlds from the Disney universe. Your basic goal at the beginning of the adventure is to once again find Riku and King Mickey. This chase was going on for much of the first game, and also continued into the GBA game Chain of Memories. However, on each world you get a side plot that is specific to those characters on that specific planet. Mulan’s struggle to be a part of the Chinese army is an example of such a plot. These plots remain loyal to the characters of the original movies such that they are believable and “realistic” in a sense that they could be happening to that specific character given the videogames over plot.
Overall: If you loved the first one then you will love the second one. Al of the reasons that the first videogame were so beloved are presented in Kingdom Hearts II as well. The characters are fun, memorable, and easy to fall in love with as you play through the game. The beauty of the audio and visual aspects of the game keep your hands attached to your controller for hours while the unique story will keep bringing you back for more.
Score: +50 A fantastically entertaining game that will keep you glued to your couch. While it is not the most difficult RPG of all time, the game play is alluring enough to be very enjoyable. Videogames are meant as entertainment, and this one is extremely entertaining!
Of course, if you do not like Disney, do not like Final Fantasy, and do not like RPG’s, then I would advise you to not play this game.