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August 26, 2005
Kingdom Hearts II - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price

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Some effects are awesome.
In case you missed it, I highly recommend you read our review of Kingdom Hearts, one of the most surprising games of our current console generation. Not only was the game another triumphant, albeit dumbed down, RPG from Square (before merging with Enix), but also managed to use many of Disney's most prized characters and locations from numerous films. If you haven't played that game we suggest you hunt it down as it's now in the bargain Platinum range from Sony. In a few short months, well probably half a year at least, the sequel will be unleashed and it looks like more of the same brilliance, with several enhancements.

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Ohhh, nice doggies...
As with the original title the game places the players in the role of Sora, who is once again being voiced by Haley Joel Osment with Goofy and Donald Duck being your main companions. Taking place a year after the original title the sequel sees the trio searching for King Mickey and Sora's friend Riku. After their defeat of Ansem the trio thought that the Heartless were gone forever, but they were wrong. The heartless returned bigger and stronger then ever. Square-Enix are still remaining pretty tight lipped about the full story in Kingdom Hearts II so we'll have to wait a little longer for more details.

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Obviously we'll have English text!
As with the previous title the world in Kingdom Hearts II is broken up into differnet themed areas all based on Disney properties. As well as Disney Castle, which is of course the home of a certain mouse, the game includes the Land of Dragons which is based on Mulan with Ming-Na even providing the voiceover fr the game. A well as these levels gamers will encounter Agrabah from Aladdin, Beast's Castle from Beauty and the Beast, a Hercules level, Pirates of the Caribbean (which we can't wait to see, especially with Jack Sparrow rumoured to make an appearance) and many more.

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Yet more stunning effects.
In terms of gameplay the development team has remained faithful to the original game, even keeping the controls virtually identical. For those unaware the left analogue stick is used to move your character around the screen while X is used to jump. When attacking the R1 allows you to lock onto the enemy with square and circle performing the attacking and dodging moves. The triangle button now allows you to perform a variety of context sensitive actions depending on your situation while L1 will open up the magic menu. As yet there has been little seen of any changes to the gameplay however some additions are promised and are likely to be revealed closer to release. There's also still plenty to be uncovered about this title such as storyline, characters and locations, however the game has been receiving a lot of positive early press from the numerous trailers and demos doing the rounds.

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Mulan and Goofy with Sora.
While the original Kingdom Hearts looked nice it was a little sparce in places with the developers taking a minimistic approach to texturing in many places. This sequel is along the same path however it's quite evident that the overall look of the game worlds are a lot more details. The effects such as magic spells seem even better then those in the original which were already quite impressive. As for dialogue apparently Square Enix are already well into the voice recording for the English version which bodes well for a quick translation. Meanwhile Japanese pop star Utada Hikaru will be returning to provide the theme song for the game.

As we approach three years since the original games release the sequel is nearing completion. Indeed it has shifted millions of copies in Japan and America and PAL gamers will be able to get thier hands on the title (in Australia through Ubisoft) this September.