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Kingdom Hearts III - PlayStation 4
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About this item
- Combines worlds of Disney and Final Fantasy
- Sora returns with Donald Duck, Goofy, King Mickey and Riku to stop Master Xehanort's plan; Number of players: 1 player; ESRB content: Fantasy violence; Genre: Action and adventure; Role playing
- New "Attraction Flow" attacks incorporate Disney Parks attractions
- Features worlds based on new Disney properties including Tangled and Big Hero 6
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Kingdom Hearts III tells the story of the power of friendship and light vs. darkness as Sora and his friends embark on a perilous adventure. Set in a vast array of Disney and Pixar worlds, Kingdom Hearts follows the journey of Sora, an unknowing heir to a spectacular power. Sora is joined by Donald Duck and Goofy to stop an evil force known as the Heartless from invading and overtaking the universe. Sora, Donald, and Goofy unite with iconic Disney Pixar characters old and new to overcome tremendous challenges and persevere against the darkness threatening their worlds.Adventure in Disney and Pixar WorldsEmbark on an adventure that spans the Disney universe: Travel across Disney and Pixar worlds to protect them from the Heartless invasion, and befriend and join heroes from Toy Story, Monsters, , Big Hero 6, Tangled, Hercules, and moreUnlock the Power of the Key bladesThe mysterious and powerful Key blades can now transform into additional forms with new abilities, moves, and animations. Equip multiple Key blades and combo between them to unlock spectacular attacksExperience the MagicCast visually stunning, powerful magic spells to battle the Heartless. Call upon Disney Pixar friends and partner with them for support. Turn the tide of combat by summoning all new “ Attractions” inspired by the theme parks.Thrilling and Action Packed BattlesExplore and interact directly with the Disney Pixar worlds. Fight off swarms of Heartless while scaling massive cliffs, diving deep underwater, or even free falling through the air. Experience unique game play elements custom designed for each new worldRelive Classic Disney Shorts Through Mini games Take a break from saving the world with over 20 mini games inspired by classic Disney short films.
From the manufacturer
Adventure in Disney and Pixar Worlds
Embark on an adventure that spans the Disney universe: Travel across Disney and Pixar worlds to protect them from the Heartless invasion, and befriend and join heroes from Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Big Hero 6, Tangled, Hercules, and more!
Unlock the Power of the Keyblades
The mysterious and powerful Keyblades can now transform into additional forms with new abilities, moves, and animations. Equip multiple Keyblades and combo between them to unlock spectacular attacks!
Experience the Magic
Cast visually stunning, powerful magic spells to battle the Heartless. Call upon Disney-Pixar friends and partner with them for support. Turn the tide of combat by summoning all-new 'Attractions' inspired by the theme parks.
Thrilling and Action-Packed Battles
Explore and interact directly with the Disney-Pixar worlds. Fight off swarms of Heartless while scaling massive cliffs, diving deep underwater, or even free-falling through the air. Experience unique gameplay elements custom designed for each new world
Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2019
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+Amazing visuals and spectacle to behold
+The strongest the gameplay in Kingdom Hearts has ever been
+A lot of new worlds to explore and discover
+A great deal of varying gameplay means you're not likely to get bored
+The amount of optional content makes up for a relatively short campaign
+A huge cast of likable characters
+Of special note, very few videogame sequels show this much love to their fans through presentation, music, and gameplay. Kingdom Hearts III is an emotional ride for longtime fans, and deeply satisfying as a result
-There is a lot of exposition in the beginning to refresh old players and to try and introduce the game to new players. Enough that the beginning of the story feels incredibly awkward as characters have concepts and things explained to them that they should already know
-There are also a lot of awkward moments in the cutscenes, including awkward dialog, pauses in dialog, and quite a bit of moments where the game will beat you over the head with its themes
NOTE: The Following Review is long
Kingdom Hearts II was released on the Playstation 2 in 2006. That game left on a giant cliffhanger of an ending after such a sweet story. Afterwards fans waited to see what was next for Sora and company. Instead of getting a Kingdom Hearts III, however, fans were subjected to spinoffs that ranged from pretty good (Birth by Sleep) to questionable (RE: Coded) while others felt like unnecessary filler (358/2 Days). And yet all of these spinoffs were adding more and more to the story, feeling necessary to play even if some of them had gimmicks that at times felt far off from what Kingdom Hearts game should be. After over a decade of spinoffs, Kingdom Hearts III was finally revealed. As one of the most anticipated sequels in the history of gaming, Kingdom Hearts III has some big shoes to fill. Not only is the sequel to one of the more beloved sequels out there, but one that also has to cover the ground set by various spinoffs that are just as important as the main games. In most franchises the spinoffs don't matter so much, but in Kingdom Hearts they do.
And Kingdom Hearts III more or less sets off where Dream Drop Distance left off. Meaning that if this is your first foray into Kingdom Hearts since the second game, you've missed an awful lot of story. Characters you know nothing about will be mentioned, plot twists from previous games are referenced quite a bit, and even the intro movies intro isn't going to help you make sense of it all. This brings about Kingdom Hearts III big problem with storytelling. There is an awful lot of exposition that is either done for the purpose of catching people up to speed, or done for the purpose of explaining things for those who may have forgone the spinoffs. So you get a lot of odd dialog where characters explain things to other characters... who should know these things.
Don't think this means Kingdom Hearts III doesn't offer a rewarding story. It wraps things up nicely, connects all the lose plot threads together and holds true to themes of friendship and teamwork (which the gameplay reinforces constantly). It's just that it stumbles to get there from time to time because there's so much story that the game has to do the balancing act of getting new players acquainted and reminding new players about what's going on. This is despite the fact that the game actually has an archive you can select from the main menu that will help you re-explore the story. It's as if Square anticipated that no one would actually watch the retrospective included. If you were one of many fans who replayed the previous games in a marathon to get prepared for this... this aspect of the story will be annoying. Again, this means Kingdom Hearts III has a satisfying story, you'll just have to spend the first few hours with the game trying to hastily explain the story up to this point. If you ARE new to Kingdom Hearts it's not impossible to start with the third game, but it is certainly not recommended.
The game is also full of references and jokes to point out that yes, they know it's been a while, and they know the player has been waiting a while. These moments, however, are mostly done in good taste and I think fans will appreciate them.
That being said, while the story does take a moment to really get going due to all of this exposition, it also has to contend with the fact that it isn't the most well-written story out there. Kingdom Hearts has always had dialog that is a little... tinny on the ears at times (think about Seifer's "Lamos" line in the second game). Here there's a lot of that as well, but there are also a lot of awkward pauses in dialog and lines that are not as well delivered as you'd have hoped. The presentation is fine, it's just hard to ignore some of these aspects because they stick out so much. It doesn't make the story bad, it just means at times the presentation isn't as strong as it could be. And keep in mind, there are a lot of cutscenes throughout the journey.
The standard fare of going through the game is the same as always. As Sora (along with Donald and Goofy) you'll visit various worlds by flying to them in the Gummi Ship. Once there you'll often play through the plot of the Disney movie it references, usually with a couple of twists thrown in thanks to the overall story. Each visit to each world plays out like an episode of a television series. Like in previous games a lot of what you do can feel disconnected from the previous stories, but if you've got memories of these movies or of previous Kingdom Hearts adventures these are incredibly rewarding and satisfying. Unlike Kingdom Hearts II, though, you aren't revisiting a lot of worlds that you went to previously. Kingdom Hearts III's array of worlds are much newer and come from more recent Disney films such as Tangled and Big Hero 6. There are also even some Pixar worlds here to visit as well. The point is that you aren't doing retreads to places like Agrabah or Wonderland, but rather experiencing new worlds and some of the things they've done here are incredibly creative. In some cases there is dialog ripped directly from the movies--even if it isn't always delivered as well. If you're a Disney fan a lot of it is a treat. Just remember that there are going to be moments of stilted dialog, even as that dialog matches the movie its drawn from.
The good news is that while some dialog and voice acting moments can feel awkward, the story isn't afraid to goof around (pun intended), and be funny. For as interesting as the story is, it doesn't always approach in a self-serious manner. Kingdom Hearts is meant to be a joyful time and the developers are aware of this. This is present most in the gameplay, which is the best Kingdom Hearts has ever been--enough to redeem any short comings you may find with the story and presentation. Really.
Kingdom Hearts III tries its hardest to be an interesting stew of ideas presented in the previous games. Meaning if you did manage to play the spinoffs, it brings in something from just about every game in the series to create a cohesive welcome back for the player. The game lifts mechanics from Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance while also combining them with the best gameplay elements of the second game. Here, though, few moments feel gimmicky. There is always a lot of action going on, and the game runs smoothly that you can always keep track of it. As Sora, you'll often use your keyblade for the most basic of attacks, but as you keep attacking you'll fill up a gauge. When full you'll be able to change forms for some devastating attacks, depending on which Keyblade you have equipped. Unlike previous games, though, Sora can equip up to three keyblades at once and change between them on the fly. The keyblade you equip changes the various forms that Sora can take, and each of them come with a set of finishing moves that are spectacular on the eyes, and unique to see in combat.
More than that, the themes of teamwork and friendship make it into the game as well. As you battle you can pull of various team attacks with Donald, Goofy and the team mates of whatever world you happen to be in. These attacks are often powerful, cover a wide range, and can be really helpful in a pinch. There are other new goodies to play with as well. Sometimes when taking out a heartless you'll be able to use an "attraction." Attractions are basically that Sora gets in a ride (like something from Disney World) and use them in attacks. In one moment you could be summoning Tea Cups and in another it could be the Pirate Ship. Either way they add to a lot of fun to the experience.
But this isn't all Kingdom Hearts III offers in its gameplay. Just like Birth By Sleep, the game also offers the shotlock attacks. You can enter a first person view, lock onto enemies and then unleash a barrage of bullets to take them down. You can also use the shotlock to lock onto certain objects or parts of the environment to give you an edge in traversal, or engage in other kinds of attacks. Likewise, you can also use links similar to Dream Drop Distance and link with various characters (such as your Dream Eater buddy from Dream Drop Distance) or utilize them similar to summons in the previous games.
All of this seems like Kingdom Hearts III would be a chaotic game to experience, but it's not. The battle zones are spacious enough to allow for some fun, and it's easy to lock onto enemies and attack. Most rewarding, however, are the boss fights which are mostly spectacle. Many boss battles are big and lumbering behemoths that show up at the end of a world, but each battle is structured to be frantic, fun and a big set piece moment. In boss fights is when the game's battles truly shine.
If anything, though, those looking for a challenge certainly won't find it with Kingdom Hearts III. The games as a whole have never been too taxing in terms of challenge. Indeed, it will feel as though you can just mash the X button to win most of your encounters, but that would be choosing not to engage with the various systems that Kingdom Hearts III has in place. So certainly you COULD just mash X to get through much of the game, but you'd be missing out on a great deal of fun and engagement that Kingdom Hearts III has to offer. Battling is about spectacle as much as it is about defeating the enemies that come your way. And just as you feel like you've experienced all the spectacle the game has to offer, you'll go to new locations where you can witness more amazing feats, or get new abilities that can vary the things you can do in combat. Afficiionados of Kingdom Hearts might do well to start on Proud Mode if they're looking for a greater challenge, but the point is that one does not play Kingdom Hearts because it offers a good challenge--it doesn't. One plays Kingdom Hearts to explore its many worlds, pull off amazing feats and interact with some of your favorite Disney characters. This is why, in spite of the game's sometimes awkward story beats... fans persist. There's quite a bit to engage with in Kingdom Hearts, and it's always putting new elements into the mix to break it up. This might be gaining new abilities, going to play some mini-games or maybe even getting into your gummi ship to do some missions.
Indeed, the gummi ship moments have often be a sore spot for the series. A lot of the time they feel monotonous and pointless. Kingdom Hearts II stepped it up to take away from that, but after a while they were still tiring. Kingdom Hearts III tries another new tactic. You can fly from world to world freely, but you can also get into some battles where it'll feel similar to Kingdom Hearts II. Sometimes there are big battles to fight where you only take on one big heartless ship that's guarding passage into a world and that's it. For the most part, though, you get to explore freely. There are even treasure planets that one can go to for extra treasures or Gummi ship parts or constellations that you can take pictures of as well. The gummi ship moments still feel out of place, but at least it feels like there are activities to do on your downtime between worlds. You're also still able to customize your Gummi Ship to your hearts content, but like the previous games, you don't really need to. If you find the gummi ship moments to be a lot of fun then at least the game gives you quite a bit to work with here. In fact, doing all the things you can with the Gummi Ship feels like a whole game in and of itself. There are a ton of missions to do, rewards for those missions and rankings as well. For as long as the main story with Sora and company are, doing everything there is to do with the Gummi Ship can also keep you busy for several more hours.
There are many other gameplay variations that Kingdom Hearts III offers. Not only are there also a ton of mini-games, but some you can even access when you simply want to take a break. Kingdom Hearts III, in order to show how modern it is, also gives Sora a Gummi Phone which is basically a smart phone for him. It works similar to Jiminy's journal in the previous games. Here you can see all the character bios, worlds you've visited and the like. You can also take pictures and share them across your social media, or play mini-games on the phone when you just want to take a break. Simply put, there's no shortage of things to do in Kingdom Hearts III. And somehow all of this feels like it belongs in the same game and universe. It's all given a good look and feel that make it feel cohesive with the rest of the game.
In terms of the visual style of Kingdom Hearts III, it's an upgrade from previous games. Those who played Kingdom Hearts 2.8 are well aware of just how beautiful the game looks. And it performs quite well with hardly any dips in frame rate, even when there are a ton of enemies on screen. Likewise, unlike previous games in the series, there doesn't need to be a character on standby. This means that you never have to swap Donald or Goofy out for the companion (or companions) you meet in each new world you find. This also means you spend far less time in the game's menus than in previous outings as well. The environments are huge with few moments where it needs to load another area. The cutscenes are well animated and the game is really colorful. It is no exaggeration to say that Kingdom Hearts III is one of the prettiest games out there and one of the smoothest running for as much as there can be happening on screen. Unfortunately this means that when the game does have to load those load times can be a bit long. And while pretty pictures and images adorn those load screens, you'll still be waiting a moment.
That being said, the most amazing thing about Kingdom Hearts III's presentation is the music. It can be quite emotional even to hear the game's opening theme as it reminds you of everything you've done throughout the series, but even more emotional are the beats the game hits when remixing old tunes to feel brand new, and the new themes it brings to the table to make the characters, worlds and the relationship between them all connect. The battle themes are also some of the best in the series. Sometimes they are remixed and other times they're brand new compositions. Nevertheless, Kingdom Hearts has never sounded this good before. Throughout my playthrough there were plenty of moments where it seemed perfectly reasonable to settle down and just listen to the music. Each world has a familiar theme to the film it's drawn from, and a battle theme that's a more frantic version of it. In some worlds these themes were absolutely amazing (particularly the battle them in Toy Box) and in others it could make you feel really pumped up. Other returning themes (such as Twilight Town) are remixed to evoke memories and remind you of journey's past. They were among the best compositions in the game, and truly show how invested the developers were in the game, and respect the players investment in the series.
Are there downsides to Kingdom Hearts III? Certainly. The aforementioned presentation of some of its story elements is certainly there. The game can feel like button mashing, but what most may have noticed throughout this review is that I've mentioned very little about the Final Fantasy characters. Over time Kingdom Hearts has outgrown Final Fantasy. It isn't that the Final Fantasy elements are there, it's that Kingdom Hearts III is strong enough not to need them anymore. You'll appreciate Final Fantasy references and characters when they show up, but Kingdom Hearts has stood well as its own separate entity from Final Fantasy. The first game was released off the heels of Final Fantasy X. Since then Final Fantasy hasn't been Square's Flagship franchise anymore, and even more importantly, the devotion of Kingdom Hearts fans seemed to have outweighed that of Final Fantasy fans. Whether it's because of how mixed Final Fantasy fans have been to the games over the past decade, or because of how much Kingdom Hearts devotees have grown over that time, the Final Fantasy moments are minor here. But this has been a welcome change, allowing Kingdom Hearts to further stand on its own.
Kingdom Hearts III is an amazing game throughout. It may stumble in its story from time to time, but it's rare to see a game in which the developers are as respectful of the player as Kingdom Hearts III is. They know it's been a while so the game was specifically designed for the fans. The presentation, the battles and the music were all done in respect to the player. For those who have been with the series since its first Playstation 2 outing in 2002, it's easy to be overcome with emotion at just how amazing Kingdom Hearts III is. Not only does the game invite returning players in with open arms, but it evokes the biggest strengths of the series, while also respecting how much time the player has likely invested in the series. As such the game ends on the highest of high notes ever witnessed in a videogame. If you are a fan of Kingdom Hearts, then you need to experience this game, savor it and cherish it. Few videogame sequels are this good, and even fewer show as much love to their fans as this does. It pulls out all the stops and delivers a very satisfying experience. If you've been waiting for Kingdom Hearts III for a long time, it's well worth the wait, and well worth your time.
Takes place after 'Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance' and 'Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage'
For those who haven't followed along the 9+ games, you may get confused on some of the character interactions as they give subtle hints of past events, making you think they're plot holes in the story. But the core story and theme is easy to follow. Think of it as someone who never watched all the Marvel films leading up to an Avengers movie; you'll get the overall plot, may get confused on the details, but overall experience is still enjoyable.
There is a 'A Memory Archive' for those who want to catch up on the story. It's a cliff notes version of major events leading up to Kingdom Hearts 3. It won't give you every single detail, just plot synopsis of the games.
All you need to know is that Sora, the main character in the series is trying to search for the 7 Guardians of Light to stop Master Xehanort from putting the world into darkness. Problem is, Xehanort is also gathering the 13 wielders of darkness in order to do so. Prophesy has it that once the 7 guardians of light and 13 wielder of darkness gather, a mythical keyblade will form giving the wielder exponential power.
Story focus on theme of friendship and light vs darkness. There's also time travel a la 'Butterfly Effect (film), body swaps, data version of characters which people are trying to decipher , and clones of characters from light and/or darkness from their hearts who are their own individual person...yeah you have to had played all the games to get it.
There are also Disney Worlds mixed in, which are retelling of their respective films with Sora, Donald, and Goofy
dropped into the world. If you played any of the past Kingdom Hearts games, it'll feel very similar. Disney Worlds you'll visit include:
Kingdom of Corona (Tangled),
San Fransokyo (Big Hero 6),
Toy Box (Toy Story),
Monstropolis (Monsters, Inc.),
The Caribbean (Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End)
100 Acre Wood (Winnie the Pooh)
The returning worlds like Olympus and The 100 Acre Wood has more original story to them.
Sora has a more emotional side to him than past games flushing out his character.
For those who been following along having played all the games leading up to Kingdom Hearts 3, the normal ending won't be a real surprise, but the epilogue is well worth it with a character reveal leading up to the next sega.
Similar to combo based action-adventure hack and slash like DMC or Bayonetta series, but more lenient (exception hardest difficulty) and focus on fun factor and spectacle rather than exact button presses for devastating combos.
Command menu for battle system from Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II make a return.
Some quality of life changes:
-The gauges for party members now appear next to Sora's in the bottom right corner instead of above.
- Reaction Commands replaced by Situation Commands like in KH 0.2.
-Can now switch between three Keyblades on the fly during battle by pressing the Right Directional Button. Only can use one keyblade at a time (no duel wielding)
-Keyblades can now level up to become stronger
-Allies can invite Sora into special techniques
-Can now cancel summons (Links) animations on the fly (but it does less potential damage overall)
Battles are very fluid with a lot of forward momentum when battling. Way better than the first game in the series (Kingdom Hearts I), which is now almost unplayable with it's slow, floaty combat, traversal and horrible camera. Drastic change from when it started 17 years ago.