Review by Clever_Ninja

Reviewed: 03/30/06

An improvement over the original, KH2 is a must buy for PS2 RPG fans

Kingdom Hearts 2 is the sequel to Square-Enix and Disney’s popular PS2 title, ‘Kingdom Hearts’. This game features an older Sora, new enemies and worlds, as well as shedding some light on some unanswered questions from ‘Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories’ for the GBA.

The story for this game takes place 1 year after the ending of Chain of Memories. It’s a good idea to either read the game script, or just buy and play it before playing KH2. It’ll shed a lot of light of certain things like Namine and Organization XIII that won’t be covered on too much in this game. This game starts off with you taking control of a kid named Roxas who resides in Twilight Town. With the help of his friends, Roxas tries to solve the mystery of who stole the photos from everybody in town. A slick silver thing runs away with one of the photos as Roxas encounters Seifer and his gang, and Roxas follows it to a haunted mansion. He tries to battle it, but to no avail; he can’t damage it. Then out of nowhere, he summons a Keyblade and uses it to defeat the mysterious silver monster. Just why can he summon the Keyblade, and why does Roxas dream of Soras memories? And just what are Organization XIII and DiZ planning? Many of these are answered in the game, a storyline a lot darker and mature compared to the first one.

The battle music has been changed a bit, but many of the familiar music themes like the Gummi Ships have remained intact. There are also new themes for the Disney worlds you visit that weren’t in the first game, like the Land of Dragons(Mulan) and Beasts Castle(Beauty and the Beast). Overall, despite the ‘kiddy’ atmosphere that Disney themes may present, the music in the game is as phenomal as it was in the first installment.

On the games battle system itself; wow. The system really got a MAJOR overall it seems. In the first game, all you really needed to do was this the X and O button, and occasionally shortcut to use magic. This game added in reaction commands, which you use with Triangle. Aside from using it to talk to people and examine things, the Reaction command gives Sora different actions in battle. In the case of certain enemies, he can use it to use the enemy as a weapon of sorts. Like he can grab Heartless Bats with his Keyblade and swing it around in the air, doing damage to it and any other airborne enemies. Many of the boss battles have a sort of gimmick with the Reaction command as well, allowing you to do something to exploit one of their strengths. The Final Form of the boss in Beasts Castle can turn invisible for example. By hitting triangle in the middle of the ballroom, Sora will jump on the chandelier. Hitting it again will bring it down to the floor. Hit it YET AGAIN will have him make it spin around the room, catching the boss with it and knowing him out of his invisibility. This makes the fight much easier.

A new feature added to this game is the Drive system that Sora acquires. By activating it when the Drive Bar is full(which you can see above Sora’s MP bar), Sora will ‘combine’ with one or both of his party members to make a new form. With the exception of the form when you combine with Donald only, all the forms can dual-wield Keyblades. You can equip the forms 2nd Keyblade in the main menu. All forms start at level 1, but can level up to a maximum of 7. Each form has different requirements for leveling up however. For example, Valor gets 1 exp for every hit you perform while in Valor Form. You get different abilities for leveling up these forms. Using Valor as an example again, you gain the ‘Auto-Valor’ ability at Form Level 2. This lets you use the reaction command to automatically transform into Valor when you’re in a pinch situation. If you exit the Drive form, your Drive Gauge will reduce back to zero. While in Drive Form, Sora has a different set of abilities and attacks he can utilize. The form also boosts certain stats of Soras, depending on the form itself. New gold drive orbs were added to the game, and picking them up recharges your Drive Gauge. Performing successful attacks on enemies also fills this gauge up. If your MP bar is empty and charging, the bar fills up faster, so keep that in mind.

Limit Breaks were also added to the game. When a character has an ability equipped that enables them to perform a limit with Sora(or Sora has one equipped himself), a Limit can be performed. Only the characters involved in the limit will be on screen. During most limits, you gain a new ability instead of your attack ability, and using Reaction you can have your teammate use a new ability. You can keep using these abilities for awhile until the final command pops up, which will feature Sora and the other members involved in the Limit performing a devastating attack that usually hits all enemies.

The way MP is managed is also different. Spells like Cure consume the entire MP bar. Instead of making you waste an Ether(or in KH1 wait for Goofy to use MP Gift), the MP gauge will change to a purple color and begin charging. When it’s done charging, all your MP are returned to you. This is helpful since Limit Breaks take up your entire MP bar, so once its fully charged your capable of launching another Limit attack on the enemy.

The Gummi Ship became a lot better this time around. After successfully opening the path to a world, you don’t need to fight through enemies to get to other worlds. You can fly towards them and enter them normally after that. Besides using it to successfully open paths to new worlds, many Missions have been added that involve the Gummi Ship. Each Mission has its own objective, and each path has its own missions. So customizing your Gummi Ship this time around won’t feel like such a waste compared to the first game.

This game has one major flaw though; the difficulty. While playing the game for this review, I chose Normal Mode. Big mistake. With all these new things that Sora can do, the enemies on Normal aren’t even a challenge. The boss battles for the most part have been made into a joke as well. Many have different gimmicks with the Reaction command that turn somewhat difficult battles into a walk in the park. Instead of having a tough time fighting a 7 headed Hydra, I can use the Reaction command to hop on Pegasus and do major damage to the boss. Not ALL bosses are like this, but it does strip away a lot of the difficulty that the first game had(I’m looking at you Ursula). For anyone who is looking for a REAL challenge in the game, pick Proud Mode. It’s this games version of Hard Mode. That way the enemies are a good match for you, as they should be.

Although the difficulty is a big con for the game, this is still a solid title for fans of KH and KH:CoM, or just RPG fans in general. This further extends the story of Kingdom Hearts, the battle system this time around is A LOT better and isn’t as much of a button masher as the first one(although you’ll still be smashing the X button a significant amount of times), and although it might be because Sora is older, the game doesn’t seem AS kiddy as the first one. This is a solid title for the PS2 that should definitely be picked up.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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