Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Impression

How can a game with its last truly relevant release back on the PlayStation 2 still warrant gamer’s attention especially when released on the PSP? Easy, it’s the magic of Disney … mixed with the excellence of Square Enix. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is the latest entry in the Kingdom Hearts franchise which has seen release on the PS2, Game Boy, DS and now PSP. The mixture of Disney characters and settings with new and old Square Enix characters seemed odd but worked beautifully. The chronicling of Sora’s adventures with Donald and Goofy is a tale as touching and deep as any Disney feature film. It’s magical on so many levels and that magic has been recreated in what is a prequel to the franchise, one taking place years before Sora, one that shows the origins of Keyblade Masters and so much more. What else does this chapter bring, let’s take a look.

Gameplay – Fill in the background and story gaps from Kingdom Hearts I and II in this prequel tale of Keyblade Masters. Three friends, Ventus, Aqua and Terra have their own tale to weave and these three paths will take from 9-10 hours to complete. Journey to various Disney worlds and unravel the mystery while leveling up each character and unlocking their full potential and abilities. All three adventures are needed to fulfill the full story and while the third play through can feel a bit ‘been there, done that’ the end result is worth it … for fans of the franchise that is. The multiplayer is enjoyable but requires a buddy to have the cart also.

Graphics – First install everything on the PSP memory card for faster, smoother looks and loading. What this gives gamers is PS2 quality looks that run seamlessly. The new trio of Ventus, Aqua and Terra are original yet familiar. They retain the look of the franchise which Sora, Rikku and Kairi began. The worlds of Disney come to life, look beautiful and show off the power of the PSP. Sadly Square Enix is one of the rare companies to pull off such excellence on the PSP. The cut scenes are as gorgeous as ever with action to match in-game. Just a truly gorgeous game.

Sound – It may be the same opening song but it creates a connection to the original Kingdom Hearts that gets fans hearts racing. The background music utilizes many of the same tunes from the franchise but it‘s so awesome it works all over again. Voice work is freaking spectacular and brings each character to life. Few games can match the audio offerings of Kingdom Hearts.

Design – Character design rocks and weaving new Disney worlds into game form is done plain sweetly. The games design carries on the tradition of Kingdom Hearts I and II with some nice new wrinkles such as the ability unlocking Command Board.

Miscellaneous – Three characters each with their own 9-10 hour adventures, all needed to complete the full story. Where Sora was the main focus sporting Donald and Goofy in support this tale sees all three of Terra, Aqua and Ventus journeying to the same locations with different objects and access. They create a trinity that’s unique and a prequel setting Star Wars should be very envious of. This is how you do a prequel.

Overall fans of Kingdom Hearts should already be playing Birth by Sleep while PSP owners have zero excuse for not jumping into one of the smoothest, most beautiful adventures the system has to offer. From a gaming standpoint Kingdom Hearts may be a bit long in the tooth but this is one beauty that is aging so well

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