Kingdom Hearts II Review for PS2

On: PS2
Sora and co are back in another stunning adventure
Sora and co are back in another stunning adventure

Sora and co are back in another stunning adventure

Square Enix finally got round to releasing Kingdom Hearts II in Europe in September, after what seemed like an almighty wait since its Japanese and North American release. The wait has most definitely been worth it, though, as Sora and the Disney gang are back, visiting new lands, seeing new faces, and meeting a few old friends. While a few changes to the battle system might upset the most hardcore Kingdom Hearts fans, everyone else should enjoy a lengthy, fun adventure.

Kingdom Hearts II actually follows on from the GBA title Chain of Memories, which is a pretty strange decision on the part of the development team. If you haven't played the GBA game you won't be too lost, but complete newcomers to the series will find the storyline a little hard to follow. Recaps do a good enough job, making the experience enjoyable for everyone, but you'll miss out on numerous links to the previous games if you haven't actually experienced them yourself.

If you haven't played the series before you might actually enjoy certain areas more, as you won't mind the significantly altered fighting system. To put it bluntly, the fighting system in Kingdom Hearts II has been dumbed down, to the extent that you can now button mash your way through a lot of fights. New combos are earned, various counters, dodge moves and special joint attacks ca be performed, and it all looks marvellous, but it's a definite downgrade.

It's undoubtedly a design decision made to try and give the game a broader appeal, but given the game's heavy reliance on knowledge from previous games, the majority of players will be returning fans. The camera is something that did need changing, and thankfully it has been. It's far less bothersome than it was in the original game, with full control given to the right analogue stick, making all areas of the game more enjoyable.

'As with the original game, you'll visit a number of lands from Disney movies, with a few choice picks this time around being the themed areas from Pirates of the Caribbean, Tron, Mulan and Aladdin.'

The aforementioned newcomers will likely find the opening three hours a rather awkward and dull affair, with nary a Disney character in site, and a plot that is full of flashbacks and dreams. You start off as Roxas, a young lad who's spending the final days of the summer with his friends, but his dreams suggest that all is not well, and the world in which he lives isn't as it seems. For some reason you'll spend a fair while performing pretty menial tasks, over and over again, until the story moves along and some familiar faces return.

Once the extended opening is over and done with, things pick up considerably. As with the original game, you'll visit a number of lands from Disney movies, with a few choice picks this time around being the themed areas from Pirates of the Caribbean, Tron, Mulan and Aladdin. Some are new, while others are simply new areas in worlds that were seen before. On the whole they don't disappoint, and gameplay is nicely varied, mixing in mini-game-like activities with the team-based battles.

The Gummi ship sections from the original return, acting as a way to travel from area to area, and they've been significantly improved upon, turning a rather grating part of the first game into sections that are a lot of fun. These space combat sections most definitely have a Star Fox vibe to them, and although they're clearly not developed enough to stand on their own, as a diversion from the main game they're more than adequate. Your ships can be upgraded if you collect the right parts, and this time around you'll actually want to collect them.

Kingdom Hearts II features one of the best ensemble casts every assembled

Kingdom Hearts II features one of the best ensemble casts every assembled

At times gameplay plays second fiddle to storyline and how it's told, but thankfully it's told very well indeed. The Production values seen throughout Kingdom Hearts II are incredible, mixing stunning PlayStation 2 visuals with some amazing CGI and wonderful voice acting from proper Hollywood talent. At times it's as if you really are watching an epic cartoon movie, with only the occasional extended conversation pauses shattering the illusion.

It's a stunning achievement, made all the better thanks to a solid PAL conversion. There's no 60HZ mode, but we do get a pretty borderless game that runs well. Considering the treatment PAL gamers have had to put up with in the past, it's a huge relief that we don't have to grin and bear another butchered classic. A widescreen option would have been the icing on the cake, but it wasn't to be.

Once the tedious opening section is completed, Kingdom Hearts II rarely disappoints, with even its weakest sections providing plenty to enjoy. Square Enix has made some odd decisions with regard to the combat system, tailoring it more to newcomers, while the story itself isn't all that friendly for first-time players, but it doesn't hurt the experience as a whole. As an example of interactive storytelling, Kingdom Hearts II is a cut above the rest, and a fine RPG for Square and Disney fans alike.

New stuff to check out

7 Comments

To add your comment, please login or register

User Comments

chrissie's Avatar

chrissie

lets hit a cart with a sak on it up the hil... lets hit a bal an c how long u can kp it up in the air 4... lets go an c the 7 wonders of twilight town... lets ignorantly turn away wen THERE ARE NOBODIES BEHIND U AND THE WONDER IS CLEARLY REAL AND LETS GO AND BCUM 1 WITH SORA AGAIN LIK AN IDIOT. oh and i do like roxas cus i was the 1 who posted b4 annonymus :)
Posted 18:27 on 27 April 2007
Anonymous's Avatar
Delete Post

Anonymous

my main problem with this game is the beginning
i dont mind roxas but i was tempted to skip everything because it was so long and there was nothing really to do

oh they stole our pictures
hmm lets go put up posters and hit bees
oh our money is gone

lmao
that was dumb
and i was really bad at everything except for the posters it was sad

theres way too many cutscenes
haha i checked once i played 10 hours and i swear over half that time was made up of cutscenes
this game is slow

also you cant dodge/roll
gaddammit
Posted 06:07 on 24 April 2007
c's Avatar
Delete Post

c

nothing is wrong with Roxas. I can happily sit through the first few hour of the game without disney worlds because: a) i find some of the disney worlds infuariatingly boring b) you have cutscenes with Goofy in them c) Roxas and his friends are constantly degraded by Sora and co. ie ''Nobodies dont have feelings'' and ''nobodies shouldnt exist'' which is really unkind d) you dont see Roxas again for ages and ages and ages e) Roxas is mentioned on off throughout the story just to tease you f) i hate Sora because he is the reason Roxas isnt in more of the game g) at times Sora can just be the most thickest, most irritating character ive ever played as h) Roxas has a much better plot than Sora does i) Roxas is a lot cooler than Sora and deserves his own game and j) its the only time you get to play as Roxas.


ps i like sora really i just like roxas more and wanted to see how many of my spare thoughts i could fit into a post thanx : D
Posted 14:47 on 11 April 2007
c's Avatar
Delete Post

c

i like roxas! (but yeh, it WAS boring.) they should hav cut out the bit where u had to get the money, the first time i did it it took me hours and hours... htey should include more of roxas overall in the game, bcause hes so much cooler than sora, who rely irrit8s me, along with goofy... roxas should get his own game, or @ least b in 1 mainly about him... 'The Thirteenth Order' or summat. oh no that sounds like a horror game, so mayb 'Nobody's Alone'? they should make it into a bestseller, without the disney characters. i rest my overlarge case. soz 4 ramblin.
Posted 14:20 on 08 April 2007
Vallentin's Avatar

Vallentin@ Chikara

Agreed. But that four-hour intro was painstakingly cheesy/boring.
Posted 21:03 on 14 March 2007
Chikara's Avatar
Delete Post

Chikara

Yes, it is a good game and I do agree that the opening hours were very dull.
Posted 19:35 on 14 March 2007
andrew's Avatar
Delete Post

andrew

good game its so amazing
Posted 10:41 on 01 February 2007

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Kingdom Hearts II
8
Out of 10
Kingdom Hearts II
  • Great variety in worlds
  • Stunning presentation
  • Story is tricky for newcomers
  • Opening few hours are dull
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 29/09/2006
Platform: PS2
Developer: Square-Enix Co
Publisher: Square-Enix Co
Genre: RPG
No. Players: One
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 1,688 126
View Full Site