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Review of Kingdom Hearts
The story begins as Sora, a 14 year-old boy, is separated from his two friends during a violent storm. Each is scattered to three unknown worlds. Sora sets off on a search to discover their whereabouts in this unique role-playing experience, taking him across many familiar Disney environments, while interacting with many of your favourite cartoon characters along with a couple of your FFFs (Final Fantasy Favs).
The roll call for this title turns out to be something of whos who of the animated world: Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Cloud, Sephiroth, Chip & Dale, Merlin, Fairy Godmother, Snow White, Cinderella, The Beast, Alice in Wonderland, White Rabbit, Hercules, Tarzan, Aladdin, Winnie The Pooh, Tigger, Huey, Dewey and Louie, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, Peter Pan, Captain Hook and many, many more.
Before Kingdom Hearts gets underway there are a few choices as to which direction the game will take. Its a simple process that initially requires manoeuvring your character onto one of three power blocks. These take the forms of a mystic staff, a guardians shield or a warrior’s sword (representing magic, defence and attack). Only one may be chosen, but one must also be discarded. Your selection determines the order in which future abilities are learned, but since you probably wont be aware of this until you replay the game, any two choices are fine. It’s at this point where decisions are also taken on the difficulty level and three simple questions that affect the level up speed.
By this time you may be wondering what on earth all the fuss was about that youd heard regarding this game over the last six months, especially since the first few sections of Kingdom Hearts are visually bland and challengingly simplistic.
When, suddenly, Sora wakes up from this dismal dream world basking in the sunshine on the most beautiful exotic beach you could imagine. It is from this point that the true graphical splendour of Kingdom Hearts smacks you right between the eyes. It actually looks like a quality 3D Disney cartoon, which is possibly the best praise that could be heaped on any video game. The main characters are immediately likeable (in a cute sort of way) and once the Disney favourites enter the fold things just keep getting better.
Kingdom Hearts is an out and out RPG taking on the style of the Squaresoft proven Final Fantasy formula that has been used with great success in the past. As well as a promotion, this should also be taken as a warning to those gamers who failed to be enchanted by the repetitive fighting system used in this popular RPG series. Thankfully battles in Kingdom Hearts all take part in real time (not turn based), which we should be eternally grateful of, as many, many fights are required to get through this game.
On the downside, not only does the enemy put up a good fight during battle scenes, but so does the camera. In fact sometimes a bad position can do more damage than failing to defend against an enemies vicious blows. You always seem to get through, but this can prove frustrating.
The control system has been kept extremely simple allowing this game to appeal to all ages. To help conquer an assailant a useful locking on system has been implemented, which proves remarkably helpful when waging war on multiple enemies. Upon coming across an object that can be opened, pushed, lifted or examined an on screen command list indicates the desired action. Similarly when a fight looms the game automatically switches to battle mode. When an enemy has been defeated they drop multi-coloured balls that restore HP, MP and some can be used as currency. Just like all other RPGs experience points gathered by timing, attacking and blocking are used to gain levels. Levelling up is important as your character receives extra abilities that will be extremely helpful later in the game (various defensive manoeuvres).
Although fighting for points takes up most of the gameplay there are several other tasks required to complete successfully in order to advance. Varied shopping lists must be searched out and gathered, then returned to the instructor in exchange for advice, cash or a useful piece of equipment. Even in the world of Kingdom Hearts nothing comes for free. An occasional challenge also helps break the monotony of constant battling (on one occasion you must fight and win 49 contests), such as racing a fellow character across an obstacle course, offering a slightly more pleasing way to settle an argument. Littered throughout the game are various sub quests, including bringing together 99 Dalmatians, collecting postcard locations along with gathering several lists and reports.
As you travel between worlds your ship encounters a wave of enemy vessels that can be defeated in a neat arcade style shoot-em-up. Not something you would expect to find in an RPG, but a nice idea.
It is so pleasing to see what an extra bit of effort in the sound department can make. How many times have we witnessed a promising project totally ruined because of poor voice acting, or annoyingly bad lip sync? It is to Squaresofts credibility that many of the original Disney voice actors have been gathered and used in Kingdom Hearts along with a credible all-star vocal list. Furthermore, the original Japanese lip movements have been completely reanimated to perfectly match the new English-speaking soundtrack.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Kingdom Hearts' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Martin © Absolute PlayStation
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