Kingdom Hearts 2 is the third game in what is currently a trilogy (the second game being Chain of Memories for the GBA). It is perhaps one of the most bizarre concepts to hit the RPG market: Disney characters mixed with Final Fantasy characters in an action RPG. Back in 2002 the first Kingdom Hearts was released with an air of trepidation. Donald Duck mixed with Cloud Strife? Such a mix had not been attempted since the creation of brunch. It proved to be a success (the game, not brunch). Now Kingdom Hearts 2 seeks to recreate that success while tying up some loose plot lines from the original game.Story
Kingdom Hearts 2 begins with the player controlling Roxas, a teenager who lives in Twilight Town. The summer days are soon ending, and Roxas and his friends are looking for something to do. Some very bizarre things start occurring, and Roxas discovers he may not be who he thinks he is. Soon the characters from Kingdom Hearts 1 (Sora, Donald Duck, and Goofy) will arrive and you’ll enter a war against the darkness inherent in every creature’s heart. The characters will fight to keep hope alive as they search for the friends they lost in the first game with the help of notables from both the Final Fantasy and Disney franchises. Your enemies in this game will consist of Disney villains, some enigmatic guys in cloaks, shadow creatures called the Heartless, and the Nobodies: white, very flexible creatures who defy the laws of physics and look pretty cool.
Kingdom Hearts 2 has one of the longest beginning segments to date. It will take you about 5 hours of gameplay to pass through it. Fortunately, the opening is extremely interesting, packed with an engaging story that doesn’t give you enough to know exactly what’s going on, but just enough to keep you interested. Unfortunately, after the opening, things are toned down a bit. Much of the rest of Kingdom Hearts 2 is taken up with visiting Disney Worlds and going through a mini version of the attached Disney story. For instance, the Lion King world will take you through Simba’s return to the Pridelands and subsequent defeat of Scar, with the main Kingdom Hearts characters thrown in. Some gamers may find themselves bored rehashing these probably familiar plot lines. Also, while the plot does pick up again near the end of the game, the concepts started in the opening are never fully developed, making the ending feel somewhat out of place, maybe even rushed. Even so, the characters are fun, and fans of either Disney or Final Fantasy (or both) will find a lot of value in seeing their favorite personalities interact in new environments and situations.
The script is varied. At times you feel like you’re taking an advanced level philosophy course. At other times you feel like you’re watching Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Basically, the parts with the story are more mature and the parts which focus entirely on the Disney aspect are more silly. So be prepared to cry, sometimes over a heartfelt reunion, sometimes because the script has insulted your intelligence.
On the whole, the story will certainly carry the player through the game, but may not leave them satisfied at game’s end. And I can’t stress enough how much those who jump right to Kingdom Hearts 2 without playing the first one will be missing in terms of story. Playing through Chain of Memories is very helpful as well. If you haven’t played those games, I would advise you to pick them up first. They are easy to find, and it’s well worth it. You’ll be saving yourself from a lot of confusion and the story will matter more to you.