Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep on PSP is a mix of Disney's charm and Square Enix's spiky haired melodrama
- Production values are through the roof, combat's packed full of options yet remains surprisingly fluid, levelling up and merging abilities is compulsively addictive
- The game's mix of mash-heavy battles and dodge-heavy boss fights quickly becomes repetitive, terrible dialog, voice acting that ranges from mediocre to horrible, the story's all at once derivative and nigh-incomprehensible
While it's beautiful to behold, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep suffers from repetitive design, frustrating boss fights, and a badly executed storyline. It's a shame because its many flashes of brilliance seemed to hint at a title that could have been the best game in the series.
Price$ 69.95 (AUD)
Kingdom Hearts' mix of Disney's charm and Square Enix's spiky haired melodrama seemed like an odd combination at first, but it's turned into an RPG franchise so revered, every instalment is highly anticipated. Unfortunately, the latest entry in the series, Birth by Sleep, does a poor job of living up to expectations. It embodies both the best and worst aspects of the series, with the bad outweighing the good by a margin significant enough to ruin a potentially great title.
It's especially regrettable because of the things Birth by Sleep gets right. This is, without a doubt, the best Kingdom Hearts' combat has ever been. It's fast-paced and flashy in just the right ways, with spell effects functioning as delicious, colorful eye candy, while somehow remaining manageable. Once you wrap your head around the slightly confined control scheme, seamlessly flicking through abilities en route to super-charging an elementally powered final attack becomes second nature. On top of that, abilities level up with use, which encourages you to vary your arsenal instead of sticking with a few tried-and-true favourites. But that's only half the equation: Abilities that have been levelled-up can be combined to create new, more powerful skills and spells, forming the addictive shell around an already compulsively enjoyable core.
It's an undoubtedly fantastic foundation, but Birth by Sleep doesn't really build off it in any meaningful way. Despite its deep combat system, you can breeze through most of the game's combat scenarios by simply mashing the basic attack button; worse yet, the game's main foes, the "Unversed", are simply reskinned clones of previous Kingdom Hearts games' Heartless. Bosses, meanwhile, provide artificial difficulty through frustrating not-quite-one-hit-kill attacks that you spend most of your time dodging in circles to avoid. Sorry, Square Enix, but I generally expect to spend the majority of a boss fight actually, you know, fighting -- not cursing Tetsuya Nomura's name as I dance around until I get my token two seconds of attack time. And that's when the series notoriously awful camera isn't spinning you around like you're playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.
And that's Birth by Sleep's greatest fault: With the exception of a few minigames and puzzles, the gameplay devolves into a button mashing affair with no real sense of depth. There's very little impetus to actually use all the cool new tricks the game puts at your fingertips, and boredom quickly sets in as the game's repetitive and monotonus action begins to take hold. The story itself is a bitter pill to swallow, with the dialogue that's downright awful, voice-acting that ranges from terrible to merely mediocre, and a plot that seems to be taking most of its cues from Star Wars.
Birth by Sleep's sheer ambition is unquestionable: We're talking about a level of polish that rivals those of most console games, both in terms of breadth and cinematic flair. The game's fluid animations and crisp graphics really shine on the PSP's hardware, and the game's scope is positively massive, with three playable characters who each fight their own sets of bosses and experience the story from very different viewpoints. And that's why Birth by Sleep will prove so heart-breaking to its fanbase: with a few significant changes, it could've been a highwater mark for the series. Instead, it's a thoroughly middle-of-the-road entry that drips with potential but fails thanks to some deep seated faults.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Gadgets & Things
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes looks sharp, but will it survive the freemium transition?
- Nintendo's bringing Super Mario Run to Android in March, but Fire Emblem's coming first
- The Switch is a mix of Nintendo's past consoles
- Dead Rising 4 impressions: 'Tis the season to BBQ zombies with your flaming sword
- This week in games: Free Titanfall 2 weekend, Star Wars Battlefront meets Rogue One
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- Best phone of the year 2016
- TV of the year award 2016
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTBrand Marketing Manager - Premium Entertainment BrandNSW
- CCMicrosoft Systems EngineerVIC
- CCSolution Delivery Manager / Project ManagerNSW
- CCIT Risk Specialist (Assurance) - TelcoVIC
- FTSecurity Incident / SOC Analyst (Tier 1) - Permanent - North Ryde BasedNSW
- CCNetwork Security Engineer - Cisco ISEVIC
- CCTest Specialist - NetworkVIC
- FTInformation Security ManagerNSW
- CCProject/ Operational CoordinatorNSW
- FTSolutions Architect - Data Centre/ NetworkSA
- CCBusiness Analyst Finance & Lending - Brisbane Based RoleNSW
- TPSenior Applications Support AnalystSA
- FTLevel 3 EngineerNSW
- CCProject SchedulerQLD
- CCVMWare Automation ArchitectACT
- TPProject Manager - eDRMSQLD
- TPService Delivery ManagerQLD
- TPDynamics CRM Technical Delivery ManagerVIC
- CCSenior Full-stack .Net DeveloperNSW
- TPBusiness Objects DeveloperNSW
- CCEnterprise Solution ArchitectNSW
- FTLead Drupal Developer - Gold CoastQLD
- FTAndroid DeveloperNSW
- FTChange ManagerACT
- CCSenior Engineer - Finance PackagesQLD