Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX
E3 2014 Hands-On Preview
" Per co-director Tai Yasue, over 90 of the game's music tracks have been fully re-recorded with live instrumentation and a 40-piece string orchestra..."

Square Enix is completing the PlayStation 3 Kingdom Hearts library with this December's release of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX, featuring Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, and a full cutscene-movie of Kingdom Hearts: re:Coded. All of these will be featured in full 60fps HD quality, and in the case of re:Coded, will include a number of brand-new scenes to flesh out certain aspects of the story. I had the chance to try out the game-ier portions of this collection earlier today, and came away quite impressed.

Kingdom Hearts II looks gorgeous and sharp, with fully remade texturing and the aforementioned 60fps treatment. The game plays much as you might recall, but includes the additions from the Final Mix re-release, like a new solo Drive transformation called “Limit Form" that gives Sora access to a number of his Kingdom Hearts I special abilities, along with a lightning-quick attack combo. Per co-director Tai Yasue, over 90 of the game's music tracks have been fully re-recorded with live instrumentation and a 40-piece string orchestra (in fact, the Video Game Orchestra, whom we interviewed earlier this year!), and what little I could hear of these retouched tracks sounded similar in quality to the redone tracks in Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX — which is to say that they sounded excellent.

Birth by Sleep also looks outstanding, even in light of its PSP roots, and has most definitely benefited from the up-conversion and higher framerate. While the level geometry is perhaps a bit more basic than its older brother in the collection, the updated character models and texture work look gorgeous in HD. The control scheme has been tweaked to make use of the additional buttons on the PS3 controller, and as a result it was certainly easier to get around when compared to the PSP version. While the Mirage Arena, an area in which players could take on a number of special challenges and unique boss battles, is still present in the game, it is being retooled to be a solely single player experience due to time constraints on the development team. Since the game is present in its Final Mix form, it includes a new epilogue chapter, along with a number of new battles in the Mirage Arena mode and a few other additions.

If you played last year's Kingdom Hearts remaster, you should know what to expect from here: these are the most feature-complete, prettiest versions of the two games, which are often regarded as the best in the series. Barring any utter and unexpected catastrophes, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX should be an excellent way to relive the second arc of the saga at the end of the year.

© 2014 Square Enix. All rights reserved.

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