It’s been 7 years since Kingdom Hearts II was released on the Playstation 2, and 11 years since the original game was released to a positive reception. The games combine established Disney animated characters with a new world, story and characters to create an immersive, surprisingly epic adventure which both young and old gamers enjoy. They have charm, humor, warmth and are engaging enough to keep fans playing and pining after more – so why have we only had 2 games in the last 11 years?
Patient fans are due to be rewarded in 2014 with the release of Kingdom Hearts III on the Xbox One (It was originally announced at the Playstation 4 conference at E3 2013, but was later revealed to be a multi platform title, much to the Sony faithful’s annoyance). It’s been confirmed that the game will be a direct sequel to the previous game on the Playstation 2, and will tie up the overall story arc which began with the original back in 2002. It has also been directly stated that despite this, the game won’t be the final installment in the series (unless it experiences low sales – which can happen in established series – RIP Dead Space) so fans can at least relax with the thought that the game isn’t intended as the ending to a trilogy.
So what can we expect from Kingdom Hearts III when fans finally get their hands on it next year?
The first thing gamers will be asking for is improved gameplay. The series may be praised for its production values, but it suffers when it comes to gameplay and user friendly mechanics. It’s not often that adventure games become button mashers, but somehow the Kingdom Hearts series became just that. They were also accused of being far too easy, which frustrated those among us who prefer more of a challenge when playing their games (not me – I get very angry very quickly when playing a game. Watching me play Fifa 12 with its horrible defense system was not a pretty sight).
Since Kingdom Hearts II was released Disney themselves have done a lot of growing – in fact, they have now acquired Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm, which means characters from these properties may well make appearances in Kingdom Hearts II – a mouthwatering prospect indeed.
E3 showed us that visuals have come a hell of a long way since Kingdom Hearts II – after all, that title was on the PS2, which means we’ve gone an entire generation without a true installment in to the series (yes, there have been various spin offs). With the new hardware it isn’t out of the realms of possibility to expect MMO features in the next installment, or at least online multiplayer of some capacity. You often control multiple characters in the previous games, so it seems like a no-brainer to introduce online co-op with one or two other players.
Square Enix seem rather excited about their new title, however they have gone on record as saying they think they announced the game too early (which would explain the relatively small amount of footage we have seen). This would suggest that the game won’t be ready until late in to 2014, which gives fans at least another year to wait.
With magic being toned down in Kingdom Hearts II, fans may be happy to hear that summoning and magic will play a bigger part in the new installment. Let’s hope enemy A.I. and difficulty is also improved, as it can be rather patronizing to have them lined up waiting for you to pick them off one by one.
Square Enix have also announced that Sora will be the main character gamers control, with the possibility that other characters will drop in and out at some points during the adventure. Whether Haley Joel Osment returns to voice the character in the English dub is yet to be seen, but considering the actors recent troubles it may be safe to expect replacement voice talent.
With so little known at this stage, we could spend eternity guessing where the story will go, what characters will appear and what will happen with gameplay. All we can hope it is an improvement on the sketchy first sequel, and it keeps the spirit of what the fans love.
For more information on Kingdom Hearts III on Xbox One check back regularly for new information.
Article by - Mike Jeavons
Insert Date: 9/2/2013
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