KINGDOM HEARTS II.5 HD REMIX
By Claudia Dumee on December 7, 2014
DumeeGamer.com is keeping it in the family! Guest reviewer Claudia Dumee travelled to the world of Kingdom Hearts, met with iconic Final Fantasy and Disney characters and had a blast! Now we bring you the story of her journey into the Kingdom Hearts II.5 Remix universe.
Kingdom Hearts HD II.5 Remix is the second instalment in the remastered Kingdom Hearts series, of which the first one (Kindom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMIX) was released in 2013. This II.5 HD ReMIX contains: Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts - Birth by Sleep Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded.So you get three games for the price of one! For the people who really don't know the series; Kingdom Hearts is essentially an excellent mix of my two most favourite things: Disney and Final Fantasy. The games constitute a collaboration between Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios. When the first Kingdom Hearts game was released in 2002, I completely fell in love with it from the moment I stepped into the Alice in Wonderland world. It was so awesome to play alongside original Disney characters like Donald and Goofy, Tarzan, Beast and Ariel, while at the same time staying true to the unique atmosphere of Square Enix and their Final Fantasy world. So my expectations were quite high for this remixed sequel. I must say that I was quite anxious to get my hands on this game.
In the original Kingdom Hearts, you are introduced to the main characters: Sora, Kairi and Riku. Their island gets destroyed by your main enemy throughout the game, the Heartless, so the three friends get separated. And Sora becomes the Keyblade master (Your weapon is a Key!!). As the Keyblade master Sora is able to fight the Heartless and lock different worlds so they’re safe from the Heartless while searching for Kairi and Riku. During this quest you are accompanied by Donald and Goofy who have been instructed by their King (Mickey Mouse) to aid the Keyblade master in any way they can. In the end you’ll have to close Kingdom Hearts, the door to the everlasting darkness.
Kingdom Hearts II.5 Final Mix continues the saga exactly as Kingdom Hearts II did; It starts off one year after the events portrayed in the first game. Much to my disappointment and confusion, you start off with a character called Roxas. But as you play on, Roxas turns out to be much more than he seems... Luckily, Sora, Donald and Goofy show up soon and you’ll earn back control over Sora. The game explores the whole heart concept further. But now you’re not only in danger of being captured by the Heartless. A new group of enemies joins the fight: the Nobodies. Now you’ll have to face the Nobodies as well as the Heartless and the group that leads them, Organisation XIII. And as if that wasn’t enough, you’ll have to find Riku and Kairi once again while travelling through different Final Fantasy and Disney worlds. YES!!! It’s a good thing those two keep getting lost (although you’d think they would have bought a map by now...).
The main difference between the first and second game is that in the latter, everything is explained in much more detail. Take the gameplay for example; You’ll get an introduction about the commands which in the first game is breezed through quite quickly. For example, I did not know that save points restored your HP and MP to 100% until I started to notice that aspect on my own while I was already halfway through the game. Knowing that upfront would have saved me a lot of replaying the same levels over and over again.
The fighting has improved a lot as well. I think this is much more Disney inspired than Square Enix. You’ll get to fight and smash around freely and earn orbs of HP and treasures when you defeat an enemy, as opposed to the turn-based style of fighting starred in the Final Fantasy games. This gives this game a bit more momentum and helps to keep it interesting. In this second game you also get additional help by using so called Reaction Commands, which return consistently throughout the game. It helps killing Heartless’ and Nobodies much faster and.... it’s just really cool. Especially since characters like Jack Sparrow (Oh yeah you get to play alongside THE Captain Jack Sparrow), Beast and Hercules share special commands with you while pressing Triangle. It isn’t just beneficial for your progress in EXP but also looks epic.
Some people may get annoyed by the inescapable fact that you do however still have to level up to gain EXP and reach higher levels to unlock abilities. But I have to say, following the storyline is quite sufficient to gain enough EXP throughout the game. Just make sure you do fight Heartless and Nobodies throughout the levels and worlds and you’ll be on the desired level when the game reaches its climax.
Though Kingdom Hearts is really fun to play, I do recommend to seriously thinking about which level of difficulty you’re going to start playing on. First, you’ll play through the introductory stage, which is dreadfully easy. After finishing this stage, you’ll get to choose to play the rest of the game on either the Easy, Medium or Hard difficulty. I played on Medium level, and it turned out to be quite challenging, while still remaining doable.
The one slightly annoying thing about Kingdom Hearts II.5 is that all the abilities and HP you’ve managed to scrounge up in the previous game are completely gone. You’ll have to start at the bottom and level up yet again. My spirits were dampened quite a bit by this prospect. But after playing for a while, I found that levelling up went quite quickly and I managed to earn back almost all of my precious abilities in a fairly short amount of time, and even managed to gain better ones, which of course, is totally bad-ass!
The gameplay of this remastered version stays fairly true to the original game, albeit a lot less clunky. So the controls are a lot more responsive, the average Heartless and Nobodies are no big deal, but the bosses actually are a bit more challenging this time around. The only thing you’ll have to be mindful about is the camera movement. This is much more flexible as well. It moves around a lot and I did find myself trying to find my way a lot of times by moving the camera around.
I would say that graphics-wise the game got a much needed upgrade, as well as audio-wise. They added more music and voices this time around. In part one sometimes voices were not used, which in all honesty was nice as well because it added to the mystic, but it gave a feeling as if the game was not finished. Luckily, we will be having none of that in this II.5 HD ReMIX. The voices of Disney characters we have all gotten know and love are recreated nicely, Goofy and Donald especially. So job well done on Disney’s side. The characters of Final Fantasy like Leon (Squall Lionheart, I am not quite sure why they changed his name) and Cid are a bit disappointing, as I’m sad to have to admit. They are quite plain and do not match the character in my opinion.
All and all, Kingdom Hearts II.5 HD ReMIX did not disappoint, you’ll get reintroduced to characters you already know like Hercules and Jack Skellington but you’ll get treated to new characters as well, like Mulan and Jack Sparrow. Even Uncle Scrooge comes along. Graphics and controls have improved considerately. You might however, need to spend some time to learn how to interact with the camera. And thanks to the Reaction commands, the fights get even more epic and interesting. Kingdom Hearts II.5 HD ReMIX is a game for all gamers who wish to reconnect with their inner child as well as experience an active game with a typical Japanese plot. You’ve got your Disney, your Final Fantasy and you get to use a giant key to bash the hell out bad guys! So be honest, what’s not to like?