Review by Aldrasio
It looked good, but that's about it.
I was extremely excited when I first got this game. All of my friends had already bought it but they hadn't beaten it and they told me it was amazing. I went by their word, went up to Best Buy, and paid my $39.99 for the game. I sped home and immediately put the game in and eagerly started playing. I put the game on Proud mode, the "equivalent" of Expert in Kingdom Hearts (I'll explain the quotes later). I watched the intro, which, by the way, looked and sounded incredible. Then I started the game.
Basically, the game went downhill pretty quickly after the 2-3 hour prologue. In this prologue, you got to see Seifer, Fujin, Raijin, and Vivi, though they are all about the same age as Sora. First, you return to Hollow Bastion, but it has drastically changed. You pretty much had to play through a bunch of Disney worlds which had absolutely nothing to do with the actual plotline of the game. The worlds were basically paraphrased Disney movies. Olympus Coliseum, Agrabah, Atlantica, and Halloween Town all made comebacks. However, they are all smaller. Not just by area, but everything in those levels is literally smaller. In the first Kingdom Hearts, you had to struggle to make it through Agrabah until the fight with the Pot Centipede. You had to figure stuff out. You had to actually think of ways to reach the chests and other things. In this one, every chest in the game is in plain sight and easy to reach. Halloween Town basically paraphrases the actual Nightmare Before Christmas, as you actually visit Christmas Town. After completing this world entirely, you get one of the most powerful keyblades in the game, though it doesn't look too great. The Coliseum is just plain different. They decided to stick Auron from Final Fantasy X in there for good measure. In Atlantica, you don't even fight. Not once. It's just a musical. Literally. It's a mockery of music games entirely. The Pride Lands was one of the worlds, where (I'm not even joking) Sora becomes a loin cub with the keyblade in his mouth.
Now, let's get on with the actual review.
Gameplay - 6/10
What can I say? The battle system is an improvement, if you consider Sora being able to land Advent Children-worthy combos an improvement. This sounds pretty cool, right? Well, it would be if you had to use buttons other than X to do the basic combos. Seriously, Sora can actually fly in this game, as long as he's attacking the enemy. He can land multiple combos in the air if he's locked on to the enemy and the enemy sometimes attacks him, letting him use a recovery skill (Square or Circle) to start a new combo. Past that, there is a "Drive Gague" now. The gague charges up whenever you attack, similar to the MP gague in the first one. When the gague reaches max, you can either use a Drive, where Donald and/or Goofy disappear and Sora gets added strength for a set period of time. You can also summon with a full gague, but, like in the first one, summons are near useless. The magic system has changed slightly. Whenever your MP gague runs out, it automatically recharges, but it takes around 30 seconds. Again, Cure is the only useful spell, but it consumes all of the MP and only heals allies if they are close to you. You can also assign items to the quick menu now instead of just magic, which is useful. However, this doesn't counter the encouragement of using only the X and triangle buttons.
There are new "trigger commands", which is basically hitting triangle at the right time in battle to pull off something that looks cool and is usually useful. However, this makes it extremely easy, as it can alert you if a boss is about to hit you.
One thing I'd like to point out is that the only Keybaldes that return are the Kingdom Key, the Oathkeeper, and the Oblivion. The Oathkeeper has always been my favorite by appearance, which is why it was such a shame that it was no stronger than the Kingdom Key, save magic and drive.
Rather than getting EXP for beating bosses, you get bonuses, such as new abilities and other stuff, similar to the system in most Final Fantasy games. In some boss battles, if Sora faints, Mickey can jump in and save him. You need to tap triangle to charge up his drive gague, and then he can revive Sora with all of his HP and a full drive bar. If Mickey runs out of HP, he revives Sora with half of his HP but no MP or Drive.
I should also note that while you got some pretty cool looking abilities, you also lost some of the more useful ones, such as Dodge Roll. High Jump LV1 is more like Long Jump, as you don't go much higher with it equipped. I don't know whether or not Glide is in this either, as I never exceeded level 50 and I don't know if you might get it later upon reaching a certain level or beating a certain boss.
The worlds themselves are extremely linear. You don't go around trying to find anything; it's either right out in the open or the game tells you exactly where it is. There are no Trinities or Dalmatians, and the only thing that can be compared is trying to get every chest in the game. The chests are listed in Jiminy's Journal, arranged by world. If you missed one, no problem. Go to that world and walk around the limited area, and you'll find it. I promise.
I should note another thing: I beat the final boss at level 48. Yes, 48. I also had slightly over 20 hours logged when I beat it the first time. I know that I haven't gotten full completion, but I'm not sure if it will fill 80 more hours of gameplay, like the magazines say.
The Gummi Ship sidequest is actually pretty fun this time through. You still have the Gummi editor, but you also have preset blueprints. You can go through Star Fox-worthy levels, which are fun, but this gives practically no reward if you do beat it.
Story - 5/10
The actual story is pretty good, but you have to go through so many cutscenes to get there. Not just that, but, as mentioned before, You spend 90% of the time completing Disney movies. Most of the game is cutscenes and filler worlds, which was a huge disappointment. However, most worlds can be completed in at most 2 hours if you're going by the storyline, so you're safe there.
You don't necessarily need to play Chain of Memories to understand the game, you'll just understand it earlier if you do.
There are even more cameos in this than before. In addition to Cloud, Sephiroth, Aerith, Yuffie, Squall, and Selphie, now there's Seifer, Fujin, Raijin, Vivi, Setzer, and Tifa, though Tifa has some obsession with finding Cloud. The first 5 new ones are only in Twilight Town, and really only there to fight in an arena. Why they picked Setzer of all pre-FF7 characters is beyond me.
Basically, aside from the filler content, the story did a decent jop completing the series.
Graphics - 9/10
Utterly beautiful. The characters were detailed, the FMV sequences were smooth, and the animations looked incredible. The worlds looked better by appearance in this than the last one. The Pirates of the Caribbean world was extremely realistic. Everything looked smooth and all of the characters looked human. The Steamboat Willy level captured the classic cartoon essence in a 3-dimensional form very well, among all of the other levels. All of the Final Fantasy VII characters are in their Advent Children outfits. The graphic artists did a fantastic job in this part.
Sound - 8/10
The music was decent, but not as good as the first one. I liked Simple and Clean better than Sanctuary, but Sanctuary sounds good still. The background music was pretty good. The voice acting was good, too, for the most part. They changed Aerith's voice because apparently some fans didn't like the fact that a pop star played her voice in the first one. If you ask me, Mandy Moore sounded much better. Also, Cid sounds like some sort of hick in this game. He didn't have a voice in the first one, but whatever. Sephiroth got a good voice actor, as he has more than a few one-liners in battle.
Replayability - 3/10
Hey, at least you can skip the cutscenes. However, there's no way to miss getting something you couldn't get later, and there's no bonus for beating it X times, so I wouldn't recommend it.
Overall - 7/10
Once again, Disney has showed us its unused potential. Just like always, They never use it. I can't say I hated this game, but it doesn't deserve all of the recognition it's getting.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
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