7.4

While there are a few game play improvements over the 1st instalment KHII lacks the charm of the original game.

Kingdom Hearts was a pretty odd idea which worked, so they did it again. However, despite improvements in the graphics, and some of the game play, KHII is nowhere near as charming as its predecessor. In theory the question with any game should be: does it stand or fall on its own merits, however this sequel is so referential to the original that it is impossible to ignore what made the first one work. I'll say straight up i'm not a huge fan of Disney cartoons, even as a kid i found them to sugary and cloying compared to bugs bunny or tom and jerry. But as a context for a Square rpg mixed with characters from the Final Fantasy universe it made for really fun game. The combat was simplistic, but the story and characters were engaging and it was very, very pretty. Here the combat has evolved a fraction with a fairly primitive reaction system breaking up the mere button mashing of the fights. There's also a quite interesting set of transformation options for your main character: Sora. And it's still pretty, no doubt the art work in the game is total eye candy. The problem is that the story is dull. To be honest the opening sequence is exponentially dull and takes hours through which to wade. After you get into the main part of the story it does get a bit more interesting, but you find that you pretty much have to do everything twice while having difficulty sustaining interest in the emotions of the characters while the play out the separate worlds the first time. On plus side the horrible gummi ship stuff from the 1st game has been downgraded, on the negative, the rather fun plat-forming element has been too. I might be in the minority here, but i enjoyed getting the double jump and then glide options and going back to figure out how to use these things to get to the less accessible chests, now you just have to look round to make sure you've spotted them all. The music is fine, not overly intrusive and at times quite hummable, as i've already said it looks lovely, the fighting is pretty basic (anyone who likes God of War will scratch their heads and wonder how you could possibly lose a fight here) and god knows it's definitely long enough to give value for money. It's just a shame that KHII simply lack the sense of innocence, wonder and charm which made KH surprising pleasure that is was when first released.

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