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Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Although two of the games in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX are a lot of fun, the package helps demonstrate what's worth with this long-running franchise. Fans of the series will be impressed with the sharp visuals and small changes made to both Birth By Sleep and Kingdom Hearts 2, while simultaneously disappointed that Re:coded is given short shrift. If anything, this will whet your appetite for the upcoming next-generation sequel. Rating: 64%
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX
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  • B-
I'll admit to being swept up in the excitement of the original Kingdom Hearts on PlayStation 2. Despite a few misfires, I was still largely on board with anything Square Enix produced and the promise of role-playing through some of my favorite Disney cartoons was too much to resist. The fact that it also included some of my favorite Final Fantasy stars was the icing on the cookie, and I couldn't wait to devour every tasty bite.

But despite my initial excitement for Kingdom Hearts, the last dozen years have left me both disappointed and angry at the series. Every installment strayed further from what I loved about the 2002 original, constantly expanding on the worst elements. Final Fantasy and Disney started to take a backseat to an original story filled with unlikeable characters and an impossibly convoluted narrative that will make your head hurt if you think about it too long.

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX (PlayStation 3)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX is the perfect compilation disc to demonstrate exactly what went wrong with this once-great franchise. Not only does this brand new PlayStation 3 game feature an enhanced version of Kingdom Hearts II, but it also includes two portable games making their console debut -- Birth By Sleep and Re:coded. This is a solid collection that will remind fans of the highs and lows of Kingdom Hearts.

It's no surprise that the best game in the series is Kingdom Hearts II, a genuinely riveting adventure that picks up right where the first game and Chain of Memories (both found in last year's Kingdom Hearts 1.5 compilation) left off. For player who missed either of those two installments, the first few hours of this sequel will make little to no sense. It introduces us to new characters and a brand new conspiracy, all while mixing together confusing flashbacks from the first game.

The good news is that the game eventually settles down and everything starts to make sense. It only takes a few hours for Sora, Goofy and Donald Duck to wake from their slumber, and then it's back to using the dreaded Gummy Ship to fly to different worlds based on old (and new) Disney properties.

Much like the first game, the real joy comes from fighting alongside some of the greatest movie heroes of all time. While there are a few repeats from the original Kingdom Hearts, this sequel offers an impressive list of Disney properties, including Mulan, The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tron and even Steamboat Willie. Each of these worlds is beautifully recreated and they spring to life with the help of a lot of the original voice actors (James Woods, Bruce Boxleitner, Zach Braff, etc.).

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX (PlayStation 3)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Each world plays out like its own self-contained vignette, usually revolving around the events found in the original movie. You'll meet familiar faces and square off against some of Disney's most fiendish villains. And even though the formula becomes repetitive after a while, the result is always satisfying. I couldn't wait to see where the game would take our hero next.

The Disney fan service isn't limited to only a few exciting worlds, players will run into cameos throughout their adventure. Best of all, we're able to summon the likes of Chicken Little, the Genie from Aladdin, Stitch and Peter Pan. Doing this gives players new attacks to wield, making some of the boss battles a lot easier to manage.

But as good as Kingdom Hearts II is, you can see some of the troubling elements starting to bleed through. This 2006 sequel spends a lot of time setting up its own storyline, all of which is completely overshadowed by the exciting Disney worlds. I find it impossible to care about Roxas and the Organization XIII when I'm racing through Tron on a light cycle. Maybe it's because I'm already familiar with Scrooge McDuck, Simba and Jack Sparrow, but I found all of Kingdom Heart's original characters to be underdeveloped and hard to connect with.

It doesn't help that Kingdom Hearts II is ridiculously easy, to the point where most battles (including boss fights) can be completed by little more than mashing the "X" button. The game attempts to add more variety, but there isn't much of a reason to experiment with other attacks. And because the bad guys don't scale in difficulty, it's far too easy to overpower the hordes of similar looking enemies.

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX (PlayStation 3)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Kingdom Hearts II also signaled a shift from role-playing game to action/adventure. While the 2002 original wasn't exactly a hardcore RPG, this sequel ditches almost all of those elements in favor of fast-paced action. Thankfully, the action is a lot of fun, but I was definitely disappointed by the linear stages and limited character customization.

Although it's easy to see the negative elements seeping into Kingdom Hearts II, it still manages to be a compelling action game with a lot of fun worlds to explore and Disney characters to interact with. The fresh content helps me overlook some of the game's weaker elements, which is more than I can say about either of the other two games found in this package.
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