Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Review

Released September 7, 2010
Developed By: Square Enix 
Published By: Square Enix 
Platforms: PSP
           Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is a prequel to the Kingdom Heart series.   As in other Kingdom Hearts games, you must travel from Disney themed world to world.  You play alone, no Donald or Goofy to help you out.  This means you cannot fight alongside Disney characters in each world either.  You are able to D-Link with them however, meaning you lose your abilities and gain there's. The D-Link system was a nice attempt at replacing allies by your side, but it fell short.
           There are three separate campaigns, one for each character.  You play as Terra, Ventus, and Aqua.  Terra and Aqua are aspiring Keyblade Masters training under Master Eraques. Ventus does not remember his past, and is left with Eraques to hopefully recover his memory.  The three become close as they learn the ways of the Keyblade Masters.  There are not many Final Fantasy cameos, but there are a few interesting cameos from earlier Kingdom Hearts games.  
           The story was good, but the three separate campaigns made the story feel choppy.  One of the highlights of the series has always been the voice acting, but Birth by Sleep did not live up to the regular Kingdom Hearts standard of excellence.  The voice acting of Terra and Aqua seemed like it was done by someone who doesn't speak English very well.  Words being emphasized at random constantly took me out of the story.
           The ability and magic system was appealing. There are the normal magic spells (fire, ice, thunder, etc) and there are also special attack abilities.  You can only equip a few skills at the same time. Melding two skills together forms a new, more powerful skill.  There are crystals that can be added to the mix that will provide bonuses (like an HP boost, a fire damage boost, etc).  To gain the bonus you must equip the new skill.  Once a skill reaches the maximum level you keep any bonuses of the skills forever.  Leveling skills is fast, and I found myself constantly switching in new ones with new bonuses. You start out each of the three campaigns from scratch, with no bonuses or abilities earned from the other campaigns. There are a few skills which are character specific, but the majority of the skills are the same in each campaign. This frustrated me, and made the whole magic system seem shallower.  It is a system built for a ten hour game; the problem is that Birth by Sleep is a thirty+ hour game.
           There are two mini-games in Birth by Sleep; a racing game and a board game.  The racing is boring, and only has two tracks.  The board game is fun, and has many different boards to play on. You are able to connect via Wi-Fi and play the mini-games with others online.
           The bottom line is if you enjoyed the other games in the Kingdom Hearts series you will enjoy Birth by Sleep.

Full Scoring Guide