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SummarySquaresoft and Disney budgets combine for an excellent game
The GoodThe game begins slow and light hearted, like pretty much any Squadsoft tale and most Disney Movies. Two boys and a girl (Sora, Riku, and Kairi respectively) on an island enjoy a life that is nice and quiet and safe but things go immediately downhill and Sora discovered he is the destined bearer of the Keyblade. After teaming up with Goofy and Donald Duck shortly after, you go on to meet a variety of characters from Final Fantasy and Disney. You travel from Disney world to Disney world and experience the tales that have been told through Disney cartoons as they are now that the Heartless have interfered in thier progression.
As could be expected after Final Fantasy X, the graphical presentation in this game is top-notch. Without resorting to cell shading, which can be very poorly implemented and distracting in some games, Kingdom Hearts manages to look and feel at times like an interactive cartoon. Even so, the worlds and characters are all very detailed and even the simplest characters are made up of enough polygons to make it difficult to find any jagged edges on anything unless they were designed to have them. Lets not forget the spectacular and attractive effects you see in pretty much every battle or cutscene that make the battles more engrossing.
The sound and music are also well done, which is no suprise with Square on the job. With the most of the PS2's resources going to the graphics of the game the music has had to remain synthesized instead of composed and recorded but the game doesn't really suffer for it. The voice acting is usually spectacular, featuring some big pop star names like Mandy More and Lance Bass in addition to the voices behind the Disney movie characters. Billy Zane does an excellent job as well, and is a welcome addition to any game he lends his voice to. There was only a single time where emphasis on different words meshed incorrectly, pointing to the fact that videogame voice acting tends to be recorded in isolation from other actors and without knowledge of how the other actors portrayed their characters. Less can be said of even excellent games like Final Fantasy X.
The BadThere is not a lot to complain about in this game, unless you don't like 3rd-person adventure/RPG type games.
Initially I did not like the fact that Sora carries a weapon that is basically a big key. The overly "kiddie" weapon appearance was easily remedied early in the game when you get a "keychain" that upgrades your weapon. It actually LOOKS like a blade eventually!
The camera could sometimes have major problems in large heated battles. There has yet to be a perfect camera in any game like this though, so this can not really be held against the Square development team. There are so many variables involves in camera movements and enviroments, especially in those of Kingdom Hearts, a perfect camera may just be a pipe dream.
A personal gripe, though largely incosequential, is that the music in the optional Sephiroth battle should have been orchestrated. Once you've heard One Winged Angel in it's live and orchestrated form you never want to go back.
The Bottom LineThis game is a fun adventure for all ages. Depending on what character development choices you make early in the game, it may be too difficult for very young players. For advanced players that desire a challenge you can set the difficulty to "Expert" for a real challenge.
If you don't like adventure games but wish to just collect Final-Fantasy or Disney related games then you will definately want this one!