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Video Game Review: Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue

February 14, 2017 | by Brian Gunn | Comments Comments Off
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter PrologueMight be time for a mystery mousekatool. Oh Toooooooodles…

The Kingdom Hearts series is soon to be thrust into the spotlight again with their upcoming third mainline title. Given that the series has many spin-offs and a surprisingly labyrinthine mythology, Square has recently put efforts forth to catch games up. The latest is Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, which contains a 3DS remaster, a movie and a new adventure.

CONTROLS (3.5/5)

Given that the collection contains a 3DS game and a new one built for modern consoles, some of the controls vary. The new entry, known as Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage, handles like a fairly modern action game, although with a more vertical design.

However, the remake of Dream Drop Distance has a lot of issues to iron out. Combat is a bit clunkier than most entries in the series, using a convoluted deck building system for supporting abilities that’s been in a few of the spin-offs.

GRAPHICS/SOUND (4/5)

Again, the collection is a mixed bag due to the disparate sources of the material. A Fragmentary Passage is fairly good looking, as it uses the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3 engine, and it has a lot of flashy effects and a unique world the explore.

Dream Drop Distance has been cleaned up from its 3DS source as well, but the roots always show, particularly in animation. Still, it ends up looking in line with the mainline games, a solid PS2 era showing with a unique art style to prop it up.

Sound design in the collection fares better. Kingdom Hearts as a series has always had pretty fantastic music, even if it often feels a little melodramatic for a game in which a duck is a main character.

Combat is punchy and enjoyable thanks to sound effects that pop. Voice acting is a mixed bag, with series mainstays like Haley Joel Osment as Sora having aged out of the role long ago. The Disney voice actors tend to shine at least.

GAMEPLAY (3.5/5)

Final Chapter Prologue sits at an odd point in time. It is out on PS4 a couple of months before the other collection that include the games that setup the stories in this one. And so right out the gate it is hard to recommend this as a point of entry for people that are new to the series. Even as someone that had played most of the games prior to this, some of the storyline elements are borderline incomprehensible.

Still, for those that have stuck with the series, it has a decent amount of value to offer. Dream Drop Distance HD is the meat of the package with it being the only fully fleshed out game on offer. Translation to modern consoles has alleviated some of the issues that game had, namely an awful camera.

Relics of its 3DS origin still remain, though. Minigames that were clearly designed around it have been remade, but they still feel out of place here, and quickly get tedious. Similarly, the game’s movement mechanics felt designed around not having that second analog stick, and that setup now feel extraneous and awkward.

A big hook of Dream Drop Distance is that it explores a variety of Square and Disney properties that are a little lesser known. One of the first characters you meet is from The World Ends With You for instance.

Players control Riku this time around in addition to Sora, which is built around a sometimes irritating mechanic where your time with each character is mandated by an ever draining timer. After it ends, the characters swap, which feels gimmicky.

A Fragmentary Passage fares better. It stars Aqua, a main character from the Birth by Sleep spin-off. It acts more or less as an introduction to how Kingdom Hearts 3 will play. A gorgeous tour through a shattered Cinderella world with simple but fun action, it serves as the highlight of the whole package. That being said, it’s very short, feeling more like an appetizer rather than a meal.

Kingdom Hearts x Back Cover is the last feature of the collection. A movie meant to flesh out some background, it is, quite frankly, pretty awful, and features a lot of the series’ story issue mainstays like mysterious individuals talking cryptically about a bunch of nonsense. And it doesn’t let you beat bad guys up with Aladdin to break up the tedium. It is hard to recommend even to long time fans.

OVERALL (3.5/5)

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is a mixed bag, bearing in mind the bulk of your time will be spent with a 3DS remaster, it could be worth a look. However, the upcoming collections of the mainline games are likely to offer better value.

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Video Game Review: Yakuza 0

January 23, 2017 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
As enjoyable as the combat can be, the strength of Yakuza 0 lies in its storytelling, unfurling a pair of compelling tales that serve as a great entry point into the series (or simply another layer of depth for longtime fans). For all the goofiness that permeates other aspects of the game, the main storylines are mature and well told.
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Video Game Review: Steep

January 19, 2017 | by Jeff Cater | Comments Comments Off
Whether you’ve decided to paraglide, ski, snowboard, wingsuit, or even hike, there’s loads of places to explore and discover. The challenges set up at various locations are very fun to participate in as well, and thanks to the wonderful loading times (see: none) it’s very easy to restart a run in case things go awry.
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Video Game Review: Darksiders: Warmastered Edition

January 12, 2017 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
At war since the dawn of time, Heaven and Hell bring their conflict to Earth in clear violation of rules set in place by a group of mediators known as the Charred Council. With humanity facing destruction War, one of the Four Horsemen, descends to intervene. He arrives to find his brothers aren’t there, and after being defeated by the demon Straga, War is blamed for the end of mankind.
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Video Game Review: Ark: Survival Evolved

December 27, 2016 | by Jeff Cater | Comments Comments Off
Through and through, Ark is a game about survival, and it gets deep. Not only can you craft houses, build forges, and explore ruins, but you may also tame dinosaurs and put f’n saddles on them!
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