The long awaited sequel of Kingdom Hearts did one thing I hoped and prayed for:
It blew me away!
Spoiler Warning from here on out.
I'm going to list my complaints from the first game and then talk about how the second game did on them:
1. The camera in KH1 was finicky and often made me motion sick.
The camera in KH2 is infinitely better. The camera was centered squarely behind Roxas and Sora unless you were target locked. You could always change the camera angle with R2 and recenter at anytime with R3. And I wasn't motion sick once during the game.
2. Atlantica sucked. Fighting in 3D was a headache.
KH2 fixed it by making the whole thing a video game musical with timing commands for clearing levels. It was cool not to have to fight in 3D, but the level was just embarassing, especially hearing Donald and Goofy sing.
3. Back tracking constantly, especially in confusing levels such as Monstro, was a pain in the butt.
KH2 fixed this by streamlining the area so that you moved forward through it with the story. You only back tracked when you went through the levels for a second time with a new story.
Now, let's talk about what made this game fantastic:
1. The game play and battle system were streamlined and easy to use.
The game play made it easy for young players (who often button mash) to play with the same results as a more experienced gamer. In fact, button mashing is the way to go in some scenes.
2. The reaction commands made the game extremely cinematic.
Sora flying around on Pegasus to beat up the Hydra was awesome! The only boss fight I didn't enjoy the hell out of was Xenmas(see below), though I did enjoy the reaction command that let Riku put him in an arm lock before throwing him to the floor.
3. Tron, Mulan, and Pirates of the Carribean were great editions to the game.
I remember when Tron came out in the theatre. That's how old I am. And who doesn't like zombie pirates? That's up there with vampire ninjas.
Every area had music not only appropriate to the area, but including the original themes for the movies presented. Fighting zombie pirates to the Pirates of the Carribean soundtrack was great. Hollow Bastion/Radiant Garden included several Final Fantasy themes.
5. The older Sora and Riku made me fill less like a pedophile.
I'm a fan girl, what can I say?
6. The Advent Children plug was nicely done.
7. Sora got a second form.
Bosses get second and sometimes even third forms. Why not the hero?
8. I only needed GameFaqs twice.
Once for a mission(Sephiroth) and once for the 4 millionth form of Xenmas (actually, just his eighth).
9. Sora can turn into his own Heartless.
An unusual addition to the drive forms, but one that actually saved my butt in a boss fight because Sora moves faster in that form.
My general complaints:
1. Not enough Riku.
Yes, I'm a fan girl and I enjoyed every part of the story, but a few glimpses every so often of the baby Sephiroth clone would have been nice.
2. Square doesn't flex it's muscles enough.
There was so not enough of the sweet, sweet CGI you get at the very beginning and very end.
3. Xenmas had eight forms.
I had Ultamecia flashbacks. I never want to have those again.
4. For someone billed as a pansy, Demyx was NOT a push over.
I may complain about Xenmas, but I desperately wanted to Demyx to be real so could throttle the man.
I finished the game in forty hours without finishing all the missions. That's the first time I've finished a game that fast that I hadn't played before. Every minute of the game was enjoyable. The story was filled with great plot twists and turns. It took me a lot of effort not to run through the game without level building, but you honestly don't need too. The game is well paced and you will end up at the minimum level you need to be for each boss.
9.8 out of 10