FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF KINGDOM HEARTS 2.5 HD REMIX

Theme Song by Bruce Healey and owned by Walt Disney Records

 

Now that my big college projects are over I hope to post more regularly and get back into the swing of things! But as my projects were winding down CHRISTMAS HAS COME EARLY FOR ME!!!!!!!!!! The reason is because I preordered the Collector’s Edition of the second Kingdom Hearts HD Collection and I could only order it through Square Enix and I chose the priority mail shipping method and I got it early on November 29th before it officially releases which is today. I obviously have been playing the ever living crap out of it! I am currently at Disney Castle just about to go into Timeless River so I thought I would give my first impressions of the game some good and some annoyances I found. ALSO PLEASE NOTE I’VE ONLY PLAYED KINGDOM HEARTS 2 IN THIS COLLECTION I CAN NOT COMMENT ON BIRTH BY SLEEP OR RECODED

 

WHAT YOU GET

I should first start off by saying what is in the collection. In the collection is Kingdom Hearts 2, the prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and the completely remastered in HD 3 hour cutscene movie of Kingdom Hearts: Recoded. Kingdom Hearts 2 and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep are the Final Mix versions which are basically Director’s Cuts featuring new weapons, bosses, Heartless with altered colors, new dungeons, new cutscenes, new story elements and various gameplay tweaks. The Final Mix versions were originally Japanese exclusives and with this collection have officially come to other shores for the first time. While Kingdom Hearts 1 Final Mix was great the new additions were relatively minimal, but the aforementioned Final Mixes have a lot of new content tweaks and features that in some cases drastically change the way these games are played and is definitely worth the money spent for these “old” games!

 

VISUALS

 

Being an HD remaster the visuals are absolutely fantastic! The level of detail is astronomical! Everything seems fresh and feels wonderful! To give you an example in Beast’s Castle I went into first person mode and I inspected the paintings throughout the castle and was absolutely shocked when the paintings were of images from the movie!!! One painting was the fountain in the town where Belle was showing the sheep her favorite book and another painting in Beast’s Room had the opening shot of the movie which is in the middle of the woods. Such attention to detail is something that gets the fanboy in me to gush with affection and love from every fiber of my being and it renews my excitement in the game that I’ve played many many times. Also there is a new small detail that adds a lot of character and that is all of the character portraits in Jiminy Cricket’s journal that you click on to see the models in 3Dhave been changed to be more expressive as opposed to the more straight faced character portraits of the original.

 

MUSIC AND SOUND

 

Since the Japanese release of the collection back in October there have been many uploads of the remastered soundtrack on youtube. So I’ve been listening to these tracks for a while and they are AWESOME! FULLY ORCHESTRATED with a real orchestra and it is glorious! While I liked the original Kingdom Hearts 2’s soundtrack I could never get into it as much as Kingdom Hearts 1’s. Kingdom Hearts 1 seemed to try and emulate a real orchestra as much as possible while Kingdom Hearts 2 was definitely more artificial and was heavily synthesized taking me out of many moments and prevented me from liking more of the tracks, but the remaster has me LOVING the tracks that I previously had little interest in! The key word for this soundtrack is authentic! Everything sounds real and right!

ORIGINAL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Q_tuxQZgEQ&list=PL19D566F984B8FEEB

REMASTER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGylrGZPuWQ

ORIGINAL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss0CCbVwubM

REMASTER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVTkJ2067Jw

ORIGINAL

REMASTER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_7NUMPeALM

ORIGINAL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk_uKQ9ACyE

REMASTER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0V_LuAXKFzA

ORIGINAL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoMlL3s4R9w

REMASTER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59BU9tc4LGE

ORIGINAL (yeah this was pretty bad)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUCbdXd3poI

REMASTER( Now THAT’S MORE LIKE IT!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iqkaaHAEbU

The sound effects are still great, but this is where things get weird. Almost all of the sound effects have been overpowered by the music. I can understand that Square really wanted to show off the awesome new music, but it really drowns out the sound effects and it’s not really fair to the people that worked on the sounds. Also there are a few awkward moments where music doesn’t play during cutscenes that it should. I’ve only found this during scenes where the track “Villains of a Sort” is supposed to be played, but doesn’t. There are some scenes where the track in question does play, but in two different scenes the track has not played. I don’t know if Square decided to remove it or if there’s a loading problem where the track doesn’t load (and we’ll get to that loading theory later). This is no big deal if you’ve never played the game before, but if you’ve played this game as much as I have it’s pretty distracting.

 

DIFFICULTY

While Kingdom Hearts 2 is a beloved game by the fan community I did agree with many detractors in that the game was way too easy and was the game that gave credence to the (misplaced and untrue) reputation of the series being a mindless button masher. Now I can say with confidence that this is gone! I am playing on the second highest difficulty Proud Mode which was the highest difficulty of the original and was still easy. Now in this collection Proud Mode has risen up to the challenge of being a well balanced game in terms of difficulty. Despite being over leveled and almost twice the recommended battle level of the worlds the enemies still do decent damage and a boss that I know I was over leveled for has killed me many times!

 

THE BIGGEST ISSUE WITH KINGDOM HEARTS 2 FINAL MIX HD

The biggest problem with this collection is the LOAD TIMES!! Due to there being a lot of content on the blu ray and the games in question being huge with no game install option the load times are quite bad! Some are definitely better than others, but it’s a long game with a lot of stuff to load and you’ll be seeing the loading screen a lot! Also the load times are more than just loading an area or a cutscene it’s many other aspects of the game. A lot of the menus particularly the main menu when out in the field and the journal take about one or two extra seconds to load. If you’re new to the series this doesn’t really matter, but to seasoned Kingdom Hearts vets it is a little slow. But the biggest flaw where the load times really hurt the experience is the loading of the Drive Forms. When Sora transforms it takes forever for the form to load and this really hurts gameplay flow and pacing and can actually take away the combat advantage of staggering enemies. There is a solution and that is to simply pause the game for about two seconds and then the form will load just fine.

OVERALL (SO FAR)

Despite the bad load times the game is still absolutely phenomenal! If you’re new I highly recommend this game along with its predecessor if you’ve played it before and are on the fence don’t let the load times scare you away this collection so far is excellent!!!

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