Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX (PlayStation 3) Review

By Chris Leebody 03.02.2015 1

Review for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX on PlayStation 3

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX is a compilation for the PlayStation 3 released in 2014 - a collaboration between Square Enix and Disney Interactive. In traditional Kingdom Hearts naming conventions, it is an unwieldy title, and not a clear one at that for newcomers. All that matters is that it features two fully HD remastered titles: Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Final Mix and, more significantly, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. Also included is Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, although, importantly, this is not the Nintendo DS game some will remember, but rather a three-hour cinematic retelling of the story. The compilation concludes a journey that started in 2013 with the release of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX on PlayStation 3, and finally the full collection of Japanese only releases have been delivered to a complete Western audience. For Kingdom Hearts fans who own 1.5, this collection sells itself, but what about those who wish to discover the remastered series for the first time, as well as those looking for a last RPG hurrah on PlayStation 3? Read on to find out…

Kingdom Heats II Final MIX is the most significant part of the package, and considering this version of Kingdom Hearts II was only ever released in Japan, represents a coup for Western fans of the series. Final Mix comes with a whole host of gameplay changes to the original Kingdom Hearts II; the most significant include a new difficulty mode called Critical, new abilities and new bosses. Also, specifically with this PlayStation 3 release comes an HD retexture of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix (as well as the other two games), coming a long way to bring this 2005 PlayStation 2 game up to contemporary standards.

New fans to Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix be warned, however; this is not a title to pick up having not played its predecessor games. The story of the original Kingdom Hearts already began to veer into the convoluted, and Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix doesn't hesitate in ramping things up another notch. Concentration at all times is a must, and even that doesn't help at getting to grips with the story, with unexplained characters who appear and disappear inexplicably, and strange universe mechanics that rival some of the worst science fiction stories. If playing the previous games is not an option, reading the backstory to this sequel is an absolute must or the first minute alone will seem like a mystery; the tutorial section a notorious low point in terms of both pace and clarity.

Screenshot for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX on PlayStation 3

It is thankful, given these warnings, that Kingdom Hearts is a series that has charm in abundance in its cast of characters and worlds, meaning even at the weirdest points in this adventure seeing Donald Duck and Goofy and other classic Disney characters is a never-ending return to childhood nostalgia. They travel alongside the main protagonist, a young boy named Sora, who wields a mysterious key blade weapon, which is the only way to defeat the 'Heartless,' creatures that are born from the darkness in people's hearts. Newly added to the enemy roster in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix is 'Organisation XIII,' made up of powerful 'Nobodies,' which are the shells left behind after a human has become a 'Heartless.' Frankly, it should be apparent even in reading what was previously said about convoluted. The original Kingdom Hearts ran on a very linear path, a simple adventure about Sora trying to find his lost friends. Its sequel is more grown up, but with it comes a tale that is satisfying, but begins to stray into the worst excesses of fan fiction.

The overall story structure might have issues; however, as with the cast of characters, the experience is at its best when it unleashes all the Disney nostalgia it is etched with, and this is shown in the 21 worlds, of which 11 are based on some of Disney's greatest hits. It is slightly disappointing that a number of worlds are reused from the original Kingdom Hearts, such as Agrabah and Olympus Coliseum, especially with such a rich heritage to choose from. Despite this complaint, at least they have been redesigned significantly, and honestly, it is still a joy to return to them anyway, reinventing classic television and film moments, with every memorable villain usually having a 'Heartless' twist and boss battle. The newly added worlds are equally enjoyable, with some series highlights including Port Royal, based on Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, as well as Space Paranoids, based in the computer world of the Tron series.

Screenshot for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX on PlayStation 3

A change fromKingdom Hearts in the worlds is the increasing focus on cinematic action and pace, rather than the slightly slower tempo of the original. This is demonstrated most clearly in the linearity of the worlds and the sense of a much more guided path. The worlds were always like this, really, but in the first game there was always an air of exploration and puzzle-solving, and at least the illusion of openness. Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix ditches the running around in favour of constant battles thrown at the player, and an increase in action-based cut-scenes and set pieces. It is a personal preference as to which is preferable, with some feeling that the former approach had the effect of grinding the pace of the story to a halt.

Pace is certainly a word that comes to mind in the combat system of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. Again, like the worlds, this has the potential to be a bone of contention to some fans. Combat has been given an added fluidity in the animation, and enemy movements and attacks are much more manic, requiring constant attention, reaction and movement. This has come at the sacrifice of much of the main use of magic, and even on the hardest difficulty, a large amount of battles come down to hammering the X button to kill everything in sight. Most things beyond optional boss fights deliver very little challenge, providing Sora is levelled up to a decent standard.

This includes the conventional boss battles, which, unlike in Kingdom Hearts, now include quick time "reaction" events during battle, which trigger cinematic cut-scenes and assist with dealing damage to bosses. It is all of these things together that regularly give Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix an easy tag by fans, who consider the original game's combat as slower and strategic, but possibly without as much of the visual flair and enhanced scale.

Speaking of enhancements, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix has been given a PlayStation 3 style makeover, with a sheen of HD. The age of the title can still be seen at close inspection, and the limitations are shown clearly with some bad lip syncing issues, flat facial features on the supporting cast of characters, and game worlds that have a great art style, but are badly missing contemporary depth and texture detail in the environment.

Screenshot for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX on PlayStation 3

With the parties involved in the Kingdom Hearts series it shouldn't be a surprise to imagine that the soundtrack is stratospheric, possibly the best ever in a Square Enix product. Series composer Yoko Shimomura does wonderful, majestic things with pianos, as well as soaring and emotional orchestral works during the adventure. Add that to the classic Disney themes remixed in each world and it is a winner. Of course, don't forget to add in the all-star voice cast, including the likes of Haley Joel Osment, Hayden Panettiere and Christopher Lee.

The next part of the package is Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Final Mix, released for PSP in 2011, only in Japan, and is a prequel to the original Kingdom Hearts, exploring the origins of main series protagonist Sora. It is also considered the longest of all Kingdom Hearts games, and with three playable characters each having their own story, there is a lot of content packed in here. As a well-received PSP title at the time, playing it on the big screen and now having the advantage of the second analogue stick and the layout of the DualShock is one of the biggest and pronounced benefits, and the graphics match up with Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix.

Rounding off the compilation is, like the previous 1.5 compilation, a cinematic-only retelling of a Nintendo DS release. It is frankly a real shame that it was not possible for the full game to be remastered in some playable way especially, with most of the cut-scenes being based on setting up Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, another Nintendo exclusive.

Screenshot for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX is one for the fans and a tide over until the long awaited release of Kingdom Hearts III. The gameplay and graphical enhancements make it a must-buy for fans of the series. It has never been a better time to be a first-time Kingdom Hearts fan, however, with the whole series being available in both 1.5 and 2.5 for very reasonable prices, and covering the entire spectrum of all things Kingdom Hearts. The outlandish story and writing that is on a quite basic level mean this is probably one to stay away from for non-fans of the series simply looking for a game to pick up and play on the fading PS3. Additionally, it is a shame a third of the offering is yet another bland collection of cut-scenes.

Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Good, fair assessment.

Cute games, nice FF fan service, but far too convoluted and repetitive for its own good.

I think 1.5 holds up worse, from what I remember, but it's been a while. Very good value for money, though.

( Edited 07.02.2015 15:26 by Azuardo )

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Azuardo, jesusraz

There are 2 members online at the moment.