Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Kingdom hearts:Birth by sleep

Gamespot score:7.5(Good)

my score:8.5

(+)Pros:-New battle system is pretty fun to get used to,-3 different characters with 3 different stories following up with a final episode,-great boss fights,-good visuals comparable to that of the PS2 counterparts,-arena fights are a blast.

(-)Cons:-Framerate is unstable and strutty at times,-can be repititive to revisit worlds as different characters.

Gameplay time:30-40 hours

The kingdom hearts series sure is an expansive one. Ever since the original release it has been receiving sequels and tons of spin offs.One of the more recent ones is birth by sleep, the series' very first outing on the PSP. Birth by sleep retains great visuals the series is known for, and introduces a new battle system that is different from the games before it. Also, for the 1st time ever, it introduces not one, but 3 main characters to play as. Indeed, the series has come quite a ways and birth by sleep is the developer's way of showing the fans how much they have improved. Birth by sleep is yet another spinoff, but dont let it turn you off just yet, its an interesting, comprehensive and enjoyable journey that will quench the thirst of every kingdom hearts fan out there.

The stories for kingdom hearts games have always been quite interesting. Indeed, birth by sleep is no different, but instead of a lead main character, the game features 3 this time round. We have ventus, terra and aqua leading this show, the three are close friends learning the way of the keyblade. Ventus is still a novice, but terra and aqua are powerful enough to take the art of mastery test from thier master. When the 2 take their test, things goes horribly wrong as orbs of darkness appear and attack them. Ventus joins in and with the effort of the 3 they take out all the orbs. Unfortunately, after the test, only aqua was granted the art of mastery, not terra, since he could not control the darkness within him. The 3 characters then start thinking and acting differently, all working towards thier own perspectives. Terra sets off the clense the darkness within him, ventus follows, hoping not to loose a dear friend, and aqua goes to fetch ventus back. The 3 set out into the worlds beyond, and a tale of thier friendship spins into an untraversable fate that they could never imagine.

Terra fights and hits hard. Really hard.

In birth by sleep the gameplay has changed from the previous game. Unlike before where you are given 4 action slots with attack, magic, item and a command action in them, birth by sleep plays differently. The attack is given a slot all on its own in this game, and there are a load of other slot used for skills and items. For example, you can put aero, cure, fire and blitz in 4 slots. During battle, you can shuffle through them and use them as you see fit. There is no MP in this game, so skills can be used as many times as you want. But everytime you use a skill, it goes into cooldown, and you cant use it again until it cools down. When all your slotted skills are used and none of them have cooled down, you are forced into just attacking until they cool down. Of course, battles can be won with just attacking, but with skills and magicks, you get more options.

Another new and cool feature is the style change. Depending on how you fight, the order in which you use skills, you might get powered up in a way. Using lots of fire magic in a row puts you in a command style where your attacks revolve around fire, using lots of ice magic gives you an ice based command style. If you use physical moves only, you get a more physical style, where your attacks become stronger, or simply get more reach. These are great, but are only the surface of the potential you can receive. There are 2 gauges each character has, the focus and D-link. The D-link allows you to establish links you have received from friends and use thier move list, sweet stuff. Its cool in a way because other friends you know may have different skills than you already have, and tapping into thier list to use thier skills can be helpful. The focus gauge allows you to use a deadly attack called the shotlock, where you can hit enemies in a devastating attack that hits multiple times for massive damage. Each character gets thier own shotlocks, so its different and it doesnt feel like a direct clone when you use shotlocks as other characters.

Aqua is way too awesome. So awesome that even hercules is startled.

As mentioned you play as 3 characters, aqua, terra and ventus. Each charater plays differently from eaach other. Ventus attacks quickly and moves quickly. Terra hits and moves slowly, but has considerably high damage compared to the other 2. Aqua is more magic reliant, and is sort of a balanced character. After clearing the 3 stories and achieving certain achivements, you get the play the awesome final episode. Each journey is at least 10 hours long, adding up the hours you have a long and absorbing game. You visit memoriable disney worlds and meet long time disney classics as well as new ones. The cameos are pretty damn cool as usual, though the only square cameo you get to meet this time round is Zack fair, no other final fantasy character is in the game. You go through the olympus collosuem and meet hercules, the deep space and meet stitch or travel through neverland to meet peter pan.

The visuals are just great, comparable to that of the PS2 versions. For something on the PSP, thats something to brag about. Of course through the worlds you visit, they are inherited by the unversed, the new breed of enemies in birth by sleep, plus a boss almost at the end of every world. Boss fights are great, like in most of the previous kingdom hearts games, they provide a challenge to those unprepared, and require strategies to beat rather than your usual hack and slash methods you use to deal with normal unversed. Utilizing, the use of D-links, command styles and shotlocks is key, and combining these three can make you the ultimate fighter. Theres also an all new multiplayer in birth by sleep, and it takes place in a seperate world called the arena. Here, you take challenges to take on waves of unversed and fight a boss at the very end. This can be done alone or with friends. While its obviously more fun to do it with friends, the challenges are still very doable alone and still yield a great sense of achivement when you are done with them, since they are particularly pretty hard. 

D-links are a new feature that lets you fight like other characters.

Birth by sleep is probably just as great or better than some of the other kingdom hearts games, but being on the PSP, it suffers from some framerate issues. When combat gets too flashy or too many things get cluttered on screen, framerate starts to stutter, causing the game to lag a little. As expected though, its hard for the PSP to maintain such graphics. Also, since you have to play the game as 3 different characters, you will be visiting the same worlds 3 times each. Now even though visiting each world with another character is different, it gets kind of bland to see the same place three times, fighting the same unversed and in some cases, the same boss. It would be cool to see different worlds for different characters, but then again, that would take alot more UMD memory space :X.

Birth by sleep is the best spin off yet (yes, better than re:coded). It makes me happy to see that square still has it in them to make a good kingdom hearts game, and on the PSP at that! Screw the NDS, have more kingdom hearts games on the PSP. But yeah, the game is great and is definetely recommended for all KH fans. Still, I gotta say this, WHERE THE HELL IS KINGDOM HEARTS 3. Square, get your lazy ass off and make it happen, NOW!

Happy gaming!