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Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Collection Review: Surrender your heart to the charm

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As an avid Kingdom Hearts fan, of which I have expressed in my previous Kingdom hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Review, I loved the collection that bundles all six adventures into one game. There is a back story to this too so bare with me here. When I first played the Kingdom Hearts series, I jumped straight into the second one while missing out on the first one. I tried my hardest to get hold of the first one but I could not find it anywhere. All hope was lost until one day I found it online and imported it. While this was the case back in the day, I felt that I never truly got to experience the entire series, as we all know they have been all over the place, and all on different platforms. 

The Nintendo 3DS had a few, then the PS2, then the DS even. So if you wanted to experience the entire Kingdom Hearts series the way Square Enix wanted you to, then you would have to be prepared to own a few platforms. Well, this is where that all changed, and for the better. The entire Kingdom Hearts series is now on one platform, and I would never have it any other way. The best part about this collection is that you can call it the "definitive" versions of the game. The Kingdom Hearts series has been known for releasing "Final Mix" versions of the games, which include extra weapons, story details, and even some secret endings. So this version has both Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix included. Not to mention that the other filler games like Re-Chain of Memories and Birth by Sleep have been remastered too.

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For those who don't know, Kingdom Hearts follows the story of a battle between light and darkness, where Sora, the chosen Keyblade Master travels to distant worlds inhabited by Disney characters to fight off the heartless and lock the world away from the corridors of the deep. While this sound simple, there is so much more going on in the game as cameos from Final Fantasy games also make an appearance, and Sora needs to juggle keeping his heart pure, while fighting the heartless, creatures born from the darkness in people's hearts, and the Organization XIII, vessels of people who have succumb to the darkness. The story is truly one of the best I know in the industry, and tackles issues like love versus hate, and light versus darkness. 

Every new world explored is filled with Disney love, and the mix between Final Fantasy and Disney is truly something that has to be experienced. The story develops at quite a rate over the series, and there are spins here and there across different prequels and spin offs. All this collection means, is that gamers will finally be able to piece it together at once, rather than being confused at what is going on. 

4K Disney characters that ooze charm

Playing on the PS4 Pro results in a full native 4K resolution, and given that these games are PS2 versions, and Birth by Sleep a PSP version, it is outstanding that the games shine so bright, and look timeless. I suppose that given the art style for the game, and its so-called "cel-shaded" look, you cannot really fault the visuals on anything. Even the original game, which released back in 2002, looks gorgeous. There are a few moments when the facial animations look worse than Mass Effect Andromeda, but important cutscenes make use of the higher polygon models to provide a deeper sense of connection between player and characters. 

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Kingdom Hearts Re-Chain of Memories is the DS port of the game, which was recreated in 3D back on the PS2. While I imported it back in the day, the game did not ever release in the EU region until the original HD remaster hit the PS3 a few years back. Overall, what I am saying is that if you played any of these games back then, you will enjoy them even more now thanks to them containing higher resolutions, remastered soundtracks, and fuller experiences. Talking about the soundtrack, I still get chills listening to Dearly Beloved, and every battle theme and score in this collection sounds breathtaking. The Kingdom Hearts series prides itself on a stellar compilation of music, and the collection just adds them all together and creates something too perfect. 

The entire experience is here

Apart from the four fully playable games, there are also two cinematic experiences in the form of 358/2 Days, and Re-Codes. While these games are not playable, you can sit back and watch the important part of the game play out in front of you, and then read a few pages of the story before hitting a cutscene again. I just put my feet up and enjoyed the experience without worrying that it should have been a playable game. With the other games taking a good 50 plus hours to complete fully, you are looking at a good amount of time needed to sink into this collection, and there is nothing wrong with this. I had other games like Overwatch to enjoy, but Kingdom Hearts has this charm that makes you want to carry on, and I cannot see anyone who would not fall in love with the series. 

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With Kingdom Hearts 3 on the horizon and Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter also being out on PS4, there is no better time to get into the series, If you have ever been curious about Kingdom Hearts, then the HD collection is the first place to start, and once you have played that for a good 200 plus hours, you can jump into the 2.8 experience. All this will then leave you ready for the final adventure that will hopefully land sometime in 2018. 

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"Every new world explored is filled with Disney love"

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