I’ve been meaning to write a Kingdom Hearts II review for a long time. Finding the time to play it again to refresh my memory has been tough. I really enjoyed playing it back in 2005 and I enjoyed it even more this time around. Check out the full review below.
Released in 2005, Kingdom Hearts II is a Japanese RPG developed by Disney & Square Enix. It sold more than 1 million copies in the week following it’s release, I think this is in part thanks to the brilliant reception the first game received.
Kingdom Hearts II, as the name would suggest is a sequel to the original Kingdom Hearts game. Although it’s the sequel to the first game, it’s actually the third game in the Kingdom Hearts series. This second outing picks up approximately one year after the events of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.
Kingdom Hearts II Review
I don’t have many ‘gaming regrets’. One thing I do look back on with regret is not keeping a hold of my original copy of the Kingdom Hearts 2. Because, quite frankly, the Kingdom Hearts series is, in my opinion one of the best RPG’s out of Japan. Luckily, I was able to find a copy of it in a local charity shop for the pricely sum of £4. I almost decided against buying it but then I remembered how much I enjoyed playing the game the first time around.
If you can’t find a copy at your local thrift / charity shop, you’ll find it on Amazon but be warned, expect to pay a premium.
Once I got the game home I booted it up on my slim PS2. The modern TV I played it on really brought the opening cut scenes to life. The graphics are still impressive today considering the game is nearly 15 years old. The artwork and graphics really stand out and it’s an amazing achievement to have created a game more than 15 years ago that looks so good in the modern era.
For the last 365 days Sora and his associates have been in a deep sleep. When Sora finally wakes up he’ll begin his journey in Twilight Town. If the town sounds familiar it’s probably because you’ve played Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.
Kingdom Hearts II introduces you to a new character, Roxas. He’s a young boy living in Twilight Town. Roxes seems to feel really similar to Sora, he enjoys hanging out with his friends and generally doing what any young lad of his age would do. Like Sora in the first game with his random memories of people he doesn’t know or remember, Roxas seemingly reveals that he gets flashbacks and memories too!
Roxas sets out to find out the cause of these strange memories which ultimately leads him to Sora and the Keyblade. The story follows Sora and his search for his friends Riku and Kairi, as well as King Mickey throughout a number of Disney worlds.
Sora starts that new adventure by unlocking routes to new places and worlds. The Heartless are back, as well the mysterious Organization XIII. As the game progresses, Sora learns about a mysterious boy, Roxas and how much alike they seem to be.
The plot is deep and has many layers, it’s probably one of the most interesting PS2 game plots I’ve had the pleasure of playing. I found myself gaming for 2-3 hours at a time to so that I could progress in the game and move onto the next world and continue the story. I had to know what happens next. I don’t want to reveal any major plot points as it’ll just spoil the 30 hour campaign!
Now, you’ll probably want to play through the original but complete newcomers to the series won’t find it too confusing and hard to follow on. The good news is that Kingdom Hearts II explores plot points of the previous titles via a handful of quick explanatory cutscenes. They aren’t in play by play detail but it’s enough to familiarise your self with it.
If you do need a bit more back story Jiminy Cricket’s journal also features in KH2. It gives you access to a repository of information about the adventures of Sora, Goofy and Donald. The journal details everything in minute detail. Things like character connections, character history, a list of defeated enemies and even notes about item synthesis that can prove to be so valuable in your KH2 endevours.
For the experience player as well, it’s a great diary to go back to if you’re confused on the somewhat complex plot, and in my opinion it’s better than the first version of the journal, as seen in the original game.
It’ll take you about 40 hours to complete the game on the ‘Critial’ difficulty setting. The only issue I have with the default setting is that, it’s really quite easy. Before you start the game, change the settings and make it a bit more of a challenge otherwise you’ll regret it – you can always play through the game again if you do need it on a lower difficulty.
I changed the the difficulty level to ‘Critical’ and it really makes a difference to how you have to play the game, it really makes the game shine. The ‘Critial’ level is brilliantly difficult and makes combat a challenging experience for even the most seasoned RPG gamers.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a stash of potions equipped though, as with the first game, defeated enemies will drop munny and health orbs that’ll help heal you back to full strength. You don’t need to fear getting injured and taking damage just be aware that you’ll definitley need a few potions on hand for the boss battles.
The game mechanics are similar to the original game. Fans of the Final Fantasy series and the first Kingdom Hearts game will be familiar with how it ‘feels’. To perform a combo to slay your enemies all you need to do is a bit of button bashing but it feels more refined than just endlessly hammering out combos.
You’ll be able to slay the heartless with relative ease but their defensive abilities have improved over the first installment. The battles feels smooth, free flowing and exciting. If I compare that to the original, KH1 felt a little bit more clunky and a bit more difficult to get into a flow whilst fighting, it also felt a bit drab considering. I wouldn’t say the battle improvements are vast but they’re certainly better than they were.
As with the first game, there are also magic spells that you’ll be able to rely upon as you continue to level up your character. Speaking of leveling up, as you continue to grind you’ll unlock ability points which you can assign to different skills.
An area of vast improvement is the camera angle, the original game had you not only fighting the heartless but you were forever fighting to find the correct camera angle. These camera controls have now been locked to the right thumb stick, which allows players to rotate their view to suit their own individual needs. It’s not perfect but it’s a vast improvement over the first installment.
There are a great number of skills / abilities to choose from, it’s quite fun tinkering with the skills to set up your character just as you’d like him. For example, you can make Sora’s abilities more magic based or based purely on brute force melee attacks. I, personally like to set Sora up to be balanced between being a strong mage and having the sheer strength to defeat an enemy when my MP has been depleted.
The world exploration is very linear and this is probably the only bit of the game that feels like a downgrade compared to the first one. The game doesn’t have much of an emphasis on exploration but it focuses more on the story line and combat. This may put you off from playing it but don’t let it, the difficulty and the combat mechanics more than make up for it.
In Game Cash
Unlike modern games, you won’t need to stump up real cash to obtain the in game cash.
The in game currency, called Munny, allows you to buy items that’ll help you progress. For example, potions, items to synthesise etc. The more Munny you gather the better the items you’ll be able to buy. You’ll find the in-game cash is dropped by the Heartless after you defeat them. It’s also found in chests that are scattered around the worlds.
Awesome Soundtrack & Score
The sound track is awesome. The composer, Yoko Shimomura has done a superb job of capturing the magic of the first game in the music. At the same time she has also captured the emotions the main characters go through throughout the game.
It feels and sounds as if she really cares about the game and the music that she’s created for it.
I’ve embedded a Sound Cloud link below of one of my favourite tracks from the game below, check it out.
Kingdom Hearts II Opening Cut Scene Video
About Kingdom Hearts 2
|Awards||VGX Award for Best Supporting|
Kingdom Hearts II Review Summary
It’s not a stretch to say it’s one of the greatest games ever made for the PS2.
Overall Score: 8 / 10
I really enjoyed writing this Kingdom Hearts II review, I had a blast buying the game and playing it through again. The soundtrack, graphics and game play are all awesome and probably pushed the PS2 to it’s limit in terms of processing power. I don’t think you could squeeze any more out of the PS2 so we’re looking forward to reviewing Kingdom Hearts III on the Xbox One.
If you haven’t picked up the original Kingdom Hearts, Chain of Memories or Kingdom Hearts 2 just yet, what on earth are you waiting for? Go and find them, you may have to spend a while tracking them down, but trust me, it’s well worth it.
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