Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep is a prequel to the Kingdom Hearts games that graced the PS2 a few years ago. Criminally, this game was not made for the PS3, but the power of the PSP makes sure that this game is just as enjoyable as its PS2 predecessors.
Graphically, the game is on par with Kingdom Hearts II in terms of colour and detail. Long-term fans will instantly praise the way some levels and characters have been animated, as they look exactly like their Disney cartoon counterparts. Some levels from the previous Kingdom Hearts games have also been faithfully recreated.
The visuals may be similar, but the gameplay has changed slightly. The combat system has been overhauled, and you now have access to much more devastating offensive attacks. Once you have generated a combo you can unleash some spectacular looking special moves. You can also block and use an acrobatic evasive roll this time around. This made the game much more fluid in terms of combat, unlike the slightly clunky system used in the previous games.
The audio is immaculate, featuring most of the original Disney voice actors. My personal favourite will have to be James Woods as the voice of Hades. Other noticeable names include Mark Hamill, Haley Joel Osment and Leonard Nimoy. The game has an excellent score composed by Yoko Shimomura, who also worked all the other Kingdom Heart titles.
The story is gripping enough to keep any player engaged, and Kingdom Heart fans will finally get to understand how some of the events from the first game unfolded. And don’t think that finishing one character’s story is the end, as you won’t uncover the full story. One character’s story can take around nine hours to complete, so expect a lengthy and epic adventure ahead of you.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is as good as, if not better than, its predecessors. Despite being on the PSP, the game still offers hours of value and grand production values. It is arguably the best portable game released this year.