The high definition release of the first Kingdom Hearts game was a phenomenal success for Square Enix. Many fans of the series were eager to return to the epic story of Sora and his friends on the PlayStation 3, complete with trophy support and content never before officially released in North America. This caused many fans to clamor for an HD release of the second game in the franchise, Kingdom Hearts 2.
With Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD remix, Square Enix is looking to once again revisit the mash-up universe of Disney and Square Enix characters while build up to the eventual sequel on the next-gen platforms. For E3 2014, Square Enix brought the game over to show everyone just how well this collection was coming along.
While on the E3 showroom floor, I had the chance to play one level for both Kingdom Hearts 2 and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. Right from the get-go, the visual upgrade to both games looks astounding. The HD upgrade does much to have character models and environments appear clean, with hardly any jagged edges around. Colors on the screen for both games were vibrant, making sequences in and out of battle look better than how everyone remembered them on earlier platforms. The music of the games remains unchanged, but the supped up visuals and effects work hand-in-hand with the background music to have key moments look and feel just as impactful as before.
A major change outside of the visuals of both games is the control scheme. Much like in Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix, players now have better control of the camera in both KH2 and Birth By Sleep. Of the two games, Birth By Sleep benefits from this the most as the original game was only on PSP and used the system’s shoulder buttons to control the camera. The right analogue stick controls the camera for both games and is much more intuitive and helpful more so than before. Attacks and actions during battle on the other hand remain unchanged, and that’s a very good thing.
Some noticeable annoyances were the same issues that both games had during their initial releases. Coordinating a jump in some platforming sections can still be a little bit of a pain in both KH2 and Birth By Sleep, as is the case in the beginning of each game. There were instances where the camera would get caught behind a wall or pillar and obstruct the view of the action. Yet these issues could be easily remedied by repositioning the camera and playing through more of the game and gaining better abilities.
Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix is a collection of games that RPG fans know well and love dearly. The HD visuals take an already colorful and memorable collection of titles and make them all look even prettier. While this isn’t the kind of new stuff everyone wants from the franchise, it is a collection that promises to keep us calm for now. Kingdom Hearts fans have a lot to look forward to when Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix releases on December 2, 2014.