Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX: Review

Nine years ago, when Kingdom Hearts 2 came around on the PS2, it had the well deserved honour of being one of the best games the system had to offer. Needless to say, the HD remake, oddly named Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX, has some big shoes to fill. The first thing that struck me as soon as I stuffed the disc into the PS3 was just how gorgeous Kingdom Hearts can still look. Since the developers went for style instead of photorealism, Kingdom Hearts 2 looks just as gorgeous now as it ever has. While it may not take full advantage of the PS3’s hardware, it still made the transition from SD to HD and passed with flying colours. And speaking of colours, I had forgotten just how colourful the different Disney and Final Fantasy inspired worlds in Kingdom Hearts were.

Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX is packed with content, including the Final Mix version of the epic Kingdom Hearts 2, a remastered and HDfied version of the PSP-exclusive Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, and three hours worth of HD cinematics from Kingdom Hearts Re:coded. Trust me when I say that you’re going to need all of the extra games, cutscenes and materials you can get your hands on owing to the incredibly convoluted and downright confusing plot of Kingdom Hearts 2. Thankfully, you can pick up Kingdom Hearts 2.5 by itself and understand most of what’s happening, since the game does a good enough job of (over time) explaining what the hell is going on at any given moment. Honestly, when you’ve got a game that combines some of the most popular characters and settings from Final Fantasy with levels based in Disney’s worlds like Agrabah or Mulan’s war camp, how can you even think of a story that would make sense in any situation?
Since the developers went for style instead of photorealism, kingdom Hearts 2 looks just as gorgeous now as it ever has.
The gameplay starts off simple enough you can attack, jump around and cast spells. Kingdom Hearts 2 also makes great use of the contextual Triangle button, which is used in most fights to just dodge enemies, but sometimes, it is used to start off an elaborate series of attacks that usually ends up with the enemy dead or near-death. There are also segments on the Gummi ship, where you get to play a
third-person space shoot-em-up as you try to navigate between the different worlds.

Goofy and Donald make their return as partners in crime for player character Sora. Also in the main cast this time around is a new guy by the name of Roxas one of the bigger sources of confusion in the game’s plot. It takes a long time to get started (took me about three hours to get past the mandatory tutorial levels), but once it starts, it’s a sight to behold. Almost every other level has new gameplay elements in store, and depending on the world you’re in, there’s a good chance that Sora and crew will change to fit in accordingly.

Things like skateboarding levels, Rez-esque shooter levels and even a rhythm segment, while originally confusing and strange, soon become familiar and welcome. In fact, changes go beyond the gameplay and seep into the visuals of the game. For example, while you’re exploring the Pride Lands from Lion King, Sora will turn into a tiger cub. Explore worlds underwater with Ariel, the Little Mermaid? Sora gets a fish’s lower body too, and Goofy and Donald turn into aquatic creatures as well.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep made the transition from the PSP to the PS3 quite well, but its gameplay has been simplified quite a bit. Three main abilities are already mapped to three out of the four face buttons, and X is for a regular attack. Unlike the numbered Kingdom Hearts games, Birth by Sleep also lacks assistance from supporting characters like Donald or Goofy. Its story, however, does much to fill you in on the mystery of the Keyblades as well as the connection between Sora and Ventus one of the playable characters of Birth by Sleep. In the timeline, its events take place around 10 years before the first Kingdom Hearts game.
kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep made the transition from PSP to the PS3 well, but its gameplay has been simplified quite a bit.
There’s not much to be said about the inclusion of Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded, since it doesn't actually feature anything in the way of gameplay, but I’d still recommend checking it out since it is essentially a compilation of all of the cutscenes from the mobile game, Kingdom Hearts Coded, and much like Birth by Sleep, will help you better understand the wondrous and confusing storyline of Kingdom Hearts 2.

Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX is easy to recommend to fans of Disney and Final Fantasy alike. It has everything you want from a game high-speed combat, epic boss battles, and fan service that will make even the stoic and serious among us smile with glee upon seeing King Mickey wreck enemies with his Keyblade.


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