Sunday, October 3, 2010

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep - Review

Hello all. I've been playing the new KH that came out, like, three weeks ago and I gotta say that this KH is easily the best in the series. I've only just finished playing through Terra's story and I just started Aqua's story recently (gonna do Ventus' story last.) I did a review on it for my college newspaper, but a lot of stuff from it got pruned during editing.

So now I'm taking the time to post my review here. It's a pretty barebones review and doesn't go into major detail.


Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (KH:BbS)for the PSP is the sixth installment in the Kingdom Hearts series (or third installment if you don't count chain of memories, 358/2 days or any of those side story KH games) and is considered to be just as important as KH1 and 2 in terms of story. Speaking of which: The storyline of KH:BbS is supposed to patch up most of the plot holes that were left behind by KH2's terrible wake. It does a moderately good job answering some questions relating to the KH storyline, but it all still feels a bit like a giant anime cliché.

You'll play as three different characters: Terra, Ventus and Aqua, three friends and keyblade wielders that will have their friendship put to the test as they travel to many different Disney universes, beating up tons of enemies with flashy action on the side. All three characters have different strengths and weakness like Terra’s slow heavy hitting, Ventus’ weak speedy attacks and Aqua’s magic power. There’s no set order in which you have to play each character, but you will have to play them all to get the full story. Playtime for each story will clock in at around 10 to 20 hours per story depending if you decide to backtrack for treasures or not.

Visually, the game presents itself as a carbon copy of its console predecessors, and it does it with ease. There is some noticeable slow down here and there when the action gets very intense, but there is an option to remove the slowdown by bumping up the PSP's CPU speed at the cost of draining the battery faster.

KH:BbS' gameplay takes all the best elements of each previous KH game and keeps the bad elements down to a minimum. What you're getting here is KH1's platforming, KH2's flashy combat (with most of the “press triangle to do everything” nonsense toned down), and a mix between KH:CoM and KH:358/2's command system. All the usual functions like basic attacks, jumping, dodge and guard feel the same as they ever were, but the new features such as command styles, D-links and Shotlocks really pushes the game's fun factor way up. Not only that, the game has mini games and multiplayer modes that give the game some moderate replay value after you're finished playing the stories.

For anyone that was disappointed with the difficulty curve of the previous KH games, you may be in for a present surprise playing KH:BbS, as the difficulty feels nice and balanced. While KH2's difficulty felt too easy and KH:358/2's difficulty was all over the place, the difficulty of KH:BbS feels balanced whether you're playing on easy or on the new "critical mode". BbS is arguably the hardest game KH game yet, where button mashing can only get you so far and strategic battling and deck building is required.

The only real gripes I have with the game is the crappy camera that makes platforming difficult at times and makes some boss battles overly challenging. I'm currently playing through Terra's story and I'm currently stuck on the last boss simply because the camera refuses to cooperate at times. There is a way to play the game with a camera that works using the claw handle (MH style), but it just doesn't feel right. Not for KH, anyway...

Also: The minigames available such as the Command Board and Rumble Racing are nice, but utterly forgettable. The only reason you would ever really need to play them is to fill up your report book and that’s about it. Even playing them with friends won’t help, either.

For anyone that loves KH to death, KH:BbS is a must own. For anyone that has never played a KH game before, you can't go wrong with KH:BbS as your first foray into the series.


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