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 Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days

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PostSubject: Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days   Fri 09 Oct 2009, 4:30 pm

I picked this up Wednesday last week, I think the day after it came out in stores.

Well, I beat it Tuesday this week on Standard mode at a modest pace, and I have to say, I'm in love with this game.

I can admit that when I first played Kingdom Hearts 2, I was NOT fond of Roxas. He was all right, but I had more interest in getting Sora back. Since playing and finishing 358/2 Days, however, I can happily say that I actually FAR prefer Roxas to Sora now, or any other character in the Kingdom Hearts universe (except MAYBE Axel).

358/2 Days falls into an interesting place in the Kingdom Hearts storyline, occuring AFTER Kingdom Hearts, as well as before, during, and after Chain of Memories, and then even some of Kingdom Hearts 2. It basically gives us a look into the whereabouts and doings of Organization XIII, Riku, Namine', etc between Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2.

The storyline plays out similar to a Christmas Advent Calender, where you fulfill a task before being rewarded. In the case of 358/2 Days, you're sent out on various missions, oftentimes eliminating Heartless to build Kingdom Hearts, doing recon on new worlds, or running gauntlets in order to improve your standing within the Organization. All of the storyline is almost entirely CUTSCENE driven. Through dialogue on the field, however, is when you become more intimate with the other members of the Organization and learn the most about their personalities. Cutscenes generally revolve entirely around the games most central characters, such as Roxas, Axel, and the mysterious XIVth member of the Organization, Xion.

In terms of gameplay, 358/2 Days is configured to run similarly to its Playstation counterparts. Most regular battles are challenging without being too painful, usually with the exception of one or two particularly strong enemies in an area (which you are usually notified to watch out for in mission briefings, and are actually often stronger than most early bosses). For instance, relatively early in the game, you are told to watch out for a Zip Slasher. This mini-boss has several life bars, and at this point in the game, can kill you in two hits. BUT, if you prepare properly, you can actually defeat it with relative ease, albeit over the course of a while, considering how big its health is.

358/2 Days comes with all the Kingdom Hearts standards... Keyblades, magic, items, a shop, synthesis... However, the game DOES lack in offensive skills, which actually helps to bring more challenge. Consider how easy any given enemy was in the first game given the use of Ars Arcanum, or Strike Raid. Consider the same with Sleights in (Re)Chain of Memories, or Reaction Commands in KH2. No, in 358/2 Days, your methods of offense include Attack, Magic, and Limit Break. Your combos change based on your currently equipped Keyblade (each specialized for either ground combos, aerial attacks, magic, or some combination of the aforementioned). Your weapons, utility skills, magic, etc are all equipped as "panels." Basically, you're given a slate with empty slots. You insert your skills, equipment, and yes, even your LEVELS into this slate in order to make them usable on the field. Eventually, you learn about linked panels, panels with extra slots in which you can insert upgrades to their respective slots, such as Ability Units for weapons, Magic Level Up panels, or Level Doubler/Tripler/Quadrupler panels.

All-in-all, I have to say that 358/2 Days is actually probably my favorite Kingdom Hearts title to date. A lot of people are pretty picky about it, but I'm currently on my hundredth+ day on Proud mode now, and I'm REALLY enjoying myself.

Happy gaming.
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