Gaming

Kingdom Hearts III review: More for long-time fans

It didn’t spark joy

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I played the first Kingdom Hearts game for a grand total of around 40 minutes, so I don’t think I can qualify that as actually playing. I didn’t have my own PlayStation 2 at the time so I was mostly watching my friend play, waiting for him to wrap up so I could beat him on NBA Live.

However, it’s such a popular game that it was impossible for me to not at least be familiar with the premise. I did play my fair share of Final Fantasy games and like most people, Disney titles and characters aren’t complete strangers to me.


Ready to take on some Heartless!

I didn’t have any major expectations jumping into Kingdom Hearts III, but I thought the way the Disney levels are woven in would at least be clever. It was not.

The backstory is massive

The first thing you need to consider when coming into this game is that you’re stepping into a massive pile of backstory. It can be hard to catch up to. If, like me, this is your first game in the franchise, it will be like watching Avengers: Infinity War without seeing even at least a quarter of the movies that led to it.

That said, the game is aware that it has tons of lore to get into. Right in the title screen you’ll see a Memory Archive which is a chapter by chapter summary of the Kingdom Hearts story. It’s best watched in its entirety which means sitting through over 20 minutes of backstory. For the most part, it does its job of catching you up. If that’s not enough, there are several story-so-far videos on YouTube. This one I liked in particular.

Despite all of these recaps available, no amount of summarizing can truly prepare you for the tangled mess that is the Kingdom Hearts lore. During certain parts, it even feels like the game is self-aware of how much of a mess it is and pokes fun at itself. That’s one of the more entertaining aspects of the game, intentional or not.

The story just isn’t gripping enough

This is my main gripe with the game. After playing titles like God of War, Detroit: Become Human, and Marvel’s Spider-Man — all of which had stories and characters that you will inevitably invest in as you play — Kingdom Hearts III’s story pales in comparison.

I understand the comparison may not be fair. The games I mentioned are either standalone stories (Detroit and Spider-Man) or a fresh start to a long-running franchise (God of War). Given all of that, I can’t help but feel the storytelling could have been so much better.

The way I feel about Kingdom Hearts III is similar to how I felt about Final Fantasy XV which, coincidentally, was initially helmed by the same guy behind Kingdom Hearts — Tetsuya Nomura. The story’s pacing felt off and it went into places that maybe it shouldn’t have.

There’s also something off about the dialogue during cutscenes. I felt the characters were talking so much slower than usual and it invites zoning out if you’re not that into the story.

That’s a thing? Okay.

If you’re a long-time fan of the franchise and have played most, if not all, of the games and feel differently than I do, then that’s all good. In fact, I’m really interested to hear what the likes of you thought about the game.

The Disney stuff can be fun

It’s not all bad. After I realized the story isn’t gonna spark joy in me whatsoever, I started treating each Disney level as a non-canon mini-game. That made me enjoy it for what it had to offer.

Some levels felt like rushed versions of the original films with Kingdom Hearts lore thrown into the mix. Others offered some value-add to the stories we already know and love, and that truly made it more fun to play.

There’s also enough variation in each level that can make you forget you can get through most of the game by just smashing X and pressing △. The animations during battle look super flashy and the combat has a few other options you can tinker with if you get tired of smashing X.

Might be made more for long-time fans

I suspect this game was really made as more of a pay-off for long-time fans than an opportunity to acquire new ones. That’s perfectly fine. In fact, playing Kingdom Hearts III made me crave another good Final Fantasy game, but perhaps one that features tight turn-based combat versus an action RPG (role playing game) type.

Is there a game where Kairi actually does something?

There are plenty of ways to have fun with Kingdom Hearts III, but the story — which I believe should be paramount in RPGs — just isn’t one of the them. If you’re just coming into the franchise through this game, I suggest you play it for the fun Disney levels and just push the overarching story to the side.  The visual spectacle in this game is off the charts, so go ahead and enjoy that too.

By now, long-time fans would have already bought the game. If you’re one of those who are still deciding whether to get it or not, I suggest waiting a little longer for the price to drop. If you simply can’t wait, I recommend getting a second-hand copy which would also be cheaper. But whatever you decide to do, may your heart be your guiding key.

Gaming

Nintendo planning to launch more affordable Switch this year

Coming sooner than expected

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A report by Nikkei claims that a smaller and more affordable Nintendo Switch is indeed coming this year — during fall to be exact.

This backs up The Wall Street Journal‘s source that says two models are on the way: a pro model and a lite variant. While the former is expected to push better graphics and offer a larger screen, the latter looks to be more compact at the expense of losing the vibration feature.


Fortunately, both should still have TV compatibility for a larger screen to play on. The bigger takeaway, however, is that this lite version might not launch at the same time as the higher-end model, which might be saved for another event this year or next.

It’s possible that Nintendo is discretely making noise for its next batch of handheld consoles after the slew of info we received about Sony’s next-gen PS5 a couple of days ago. Microsoft also made its disc-less Xbox One S official the other day.

These announcements seem timely, with the three major players possibly feeling some heat from Google and Apple, both of which have announced their own push into the gaming realm with cloud gaming solutions and an exclusive app store, respectively.

Via: The Verge

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Gaming

Sony PlayStation 5: Everything we know so far

It’s more than just a mere upgrade

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After months of speculation, the time has come for Sony to drop its plans on its latest console. In an exclusive interview with Wired, Sony’s lead system architect Mark Cerny revealed initial details on the upcoming PlayStation 5. Here’s what we know so far:

The new PlayStation console will house a better CPU and GPU to meet the demands of long-time gamers on the system. The CPU will be based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line, with eight cores of its new Zen 2 architecture. It promises to bring better performance and 3D audio capabilities, as well.


Meanwhile, the GPU will be a custom variant of AMD’s Radeon Navi, and will come with ray tracing! Apart from better overall visuals, the GPU now opens support for 8K graphics. To date, no gaming console has ventured into including ray-tracing technologies into their GPUs so it will be interesting to see how Sony will do it.

With games requiring more space to run smoothly and flawlessly, the new PlayStation provides a solution with an upgrade. This time, the PlayStation 5 will come with a solid state drive (SSD) that promises better and faster loading times. Cerny demonstrated the power of the SSD by playing Spider-Man through a PlayStation 4 against a developer’s kit-version for the new console. The results: web-slinging across New York City in under a second for the SSD.

Unfortunately, the PlayStation 5 won’t be available this year and Sony has yet to confirm a release date. The company isn’t expected to make that announcement any time soon since they pulled out of E3 2019. For now, all we can do is simply wait for new details to surface.

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Microsoft’s next Xbox does not have a disc slot

All digital!

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Image source: WinFuture

For the past two to three decades, video gaming has always been associated with compact discs. From then to now, video game stores are lined with cases and cases of discs. Sadly, times are changing. For quite a while now, PC gaming has almost completely moved to digital distribution. Now, video game discs belong exclusively to console gaming. However, the compact disc’s last sanctuary is slowly coming to an end.

Recently, a leak has revealed Microsoft’s latest project — a disc-less Xbox One. Supplemented by detailed renders, the Xbox One S All Digital does not include a tray for discs. Instead, the upcoming console will rely solely on digital downloads and subscriptions. Unfortunately, the leak does not include any other hardware specifications. However, the leaked box art indicates the inclusion of pre-installed games like Minecraft, Sea of Thieves, and Forza Horizon 3. The leak also hints at 4K support and 1TB of internal storage.


Finally, the leak included the device’s release details. The Xbox One S All Digital will retail for EUR 229.99 starting May 7 in Europe.

Albeit strongly supported, the leak still carries a slight bit of uncertainty. Microsoft has not officially announced the device. However, given the industry’s current trajectory, an all-digital console sounds like a logical choice. Google has even announced streaming service Stadia. Unfortunately, the industry’s trajectory does not bode well for the traditional compact discs of old. Say goodbye to scratched disc problems; say hello to more slow internet woes.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft built prototypes of Xbox controllers for mobile

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