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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Platform: Sony PSP|Edition: Standard Edition|Change
Price:£33.17 - £119.99

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VINE VOICEon 15 October 2010
Birth By Sleep is the third handheld Kingdom Hearts game to be released on yet another format, you have to feel sorry for fans of the KH series who don't own at least 3 of the consoles these games have been released on. I say 3 even though it's actually 4 but you can play GBA games on some DS's. Birth By Sleep released on the PSP this time makes it the best looking handheld version of the game looking as good as it did on the PS2 and like the first two games everyone is voiced.

The story is set before the first Kingdom Hearts game on the PS2 and the story is split up into three separate characters Terra, Ven and Aqua. You will play through each of the three characters who have their own story which lasts about 8-10 hours each and will meet each other at certain areas of the game. The three stories work really well and fill in all the gaps left when playing one of the other characters. I chose to play Terra than Aqua and finally Ven and felt the story flowed excellent.

Birth By Sleep brings some new ideas to gameplay and combat controls, the X button remains the normal attack button and you can assign items to the Triangle button which can be controlled using the D-Pad. These items can be level up, molded into something new or created using the games mini game "Command Board" or bought at shop points in each world. As you progress through the game you acquire more and more spaces to add new attacks, items or healing potions, although easy to use I have come across a couple of bad points. First issue happens when in the heat of a battle, choosing through loads of options to find the one you need E.G. "Cure" can divert you from what's happening and can leave you flustered or getting attacked and secondly if you do get hit as you press triangle it sometimes cancels that item and moves you swiftly onto the next one which means you could heal yourself when you don't need to. All items assigned to the triangle button have an unlimited usage but you will have to wait for a bar to fill up before you can use the same item again.

The other major issue I have with BBS is the camera and auto lock function. The Autolock can be really fidgety to use sometimes as it locks onto enemies that you don't want to or won't change to the one's you want. Sometimes it can be a major pain to cancel the lock on and the camera doesn't always pan round when you are locked onto an enemy when running around them which means you can lose sight of what they are doing. On the flip side I have also been in a boss battle and the auto lock cancels itself and the camera pans around to face a wall so I can no longer see where the enemy is attacking from, this causes a problem when you are fighting fast attacking enemy that can attack from a distance.
Another added extra to BBS is the D-link function which replaces summons, the D-link replaces your normal command menu with one that's made from one of the characters you have meet during your playthrough of the game, this is fun and handy at first but when you don't have a cure item but eventually you will forget it's even there. A more useful attack function is the "shoot lock" targeting system which can be used for long distant attacks by holding down both shoulder buttons, but this also has its flaws as sometimes it doesn't lock on like it should and you could end up facing a wall instead of an enemy.

When the battle system is at its best the combat is as fun as the previous games and the new attacks do look amazing. Taking the bad points away the storyline is brilliant and matches the standard of the original games, you visit some fantastic Disney worlds such as Snow White, Cinderella & Deep Space where you will meet Stitch. The Coliseum is back but doesn't add many tournaments; you will fight but its part of the storyline rather than an extra. I do like how Herc is his younger self.

There are a few mini games but they are fun for a few minutes before they get boring. One of which is a command board mini game using dice which can level up items you are holding and gain a few extras. These can be fun but go on for a bit long and you don't really need to use it to progress in the game.
The game flows well and a very strong storyline with likable characters makes you forget about the games flaws. Having to watch the same clip again as you play through each of the characters is another small annoyance but can be forgiven when something new comes out of it at the end.
If you collect all of xehanort's reports (which you should do) you will open up the last mission of the game and this is where the game presents its main challenge as most of the battles are pretty easy.
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VINE VOICEon 3 October 2010
After how rubbish previous Kingdom Hearts spinoff games have proven to be over the years, it probably seemed a safe assumption that Birth by Sleep would end up the same way. Well, the old adage about assuming has never rang more true than it does here, as Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep turns out to be actually quite excellent, trumping all other spinoffs and actually in some ways bettering main title Kingdom Hearts 2.

Taking the unusual approach of giving you the option from the start of playing through the story as one of three different characters whose individual tales intertwine and run concurrent to each other, but at it's core, the game is a prequel to KH1, taking place years before and centred around 'main' character Ventus, a dead ringer for central KH2 figure Roxas who lives on a world called "Land of Departure" with his two best friends Terra and Aqua, and all three are Keyblade wielders who become embroiled in a plot by the slimy Master Xehanort(Same name, but appears a different character from the bad guy in KH2) to manipulate both Terra and Ventus into seperate plots that are part of some sinister scheme that only unfolds fully when you play through all three character stories. To say more would spoil it, but at it's heart, the story returns to the basics of KH1 with a story of friendship and bonds overcoming all while providing some really enjoyable groundwork laying for the two main KH games in some clever(If convoluted at times) ways. What BBS does right where games like 358/2 Days went wrong is that it manages to balance it's central character work with the Disney angle perfectly, as the stories of Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan, etc are retrodden in a pretty decent manner, incorporating Ventus and co into their tales and tying them into the main story nicely and also providing some really amusing little in jokes that work well if you're a long time KH fan(eg. the Hercules story has Hercules as a weedy kid who teams up with Ventus and Zack from Final Fantasy VII against Hades, contrasting Hercules later being a muscular hero in KH1 who teams with Cloud from FFVII, etc) and also has some genuinely touching little plot points in there that had their groundwork laid in last year's DS title 358/2 days, like scenes where younger, human versions of the members of bad guys Organisation XIII appear, in particular the scenes centred on Axel. It's a great story that mostly foregoes the stupidly complex plot twists that have ruined most of the KH titles but doesn't dodge them completely.

Gameplay is identical to KH2, but with several tweaks and additions that make it a lot more quickly paced to play than any KH title before it, with the addition of the "command" based combat system allowing you to wield some hefty battlefield clearing powers that are visually spectacular and give a great sense of power when fighting against hordes of enemies at once. The combat system is really superb, which is just as well, as the game is about 70-80 percent combat based, so if that isn't your thing, don't bother here. Like KH2 there is little in the way of platforming or exploration on offer here, and the combat can get repetitive if you don't take to it I can imagine, but as a whole this is good stuff and is likely the longest KH title to date as well(Took me close to 40 hours to run through the entire game). There is also an arena based multiplayer mode that allows you to team up with other players to tackle increasingly larger and more difficult waves of enemies to earn rare prizes and bonuses for your main game which seemed to work very well, but isn't something I could see myself spending much time on in future.

Graphically, this game is a stunner. With visuals that are very very close to being on par with Kingdom Hearts 2 on PS2, with only the scale of the larger enemies being significantly downsized. It looks just incredible, but there are some minor drawbacks like an iffy framerate throughout that can thankfully be stabilised completely by switching on the optional full 333mhz mode in the options screen that sadly has the side effect of increasing the drain on the PSP's battery life.

Soundwise, the game is likewise superb, with top class voice work by veterans of the KH series with only a couple of newcomers(In particular Aqua's voice actress sadly) letting the show down. Turns such as Leonard Nimoy in full panto villain mode as Xehanort and James Woods again appearing as Hades are both a joy to listen to it must be said. In addition the soundtrack is the usual ace turn which perhaps isn't quite as memorable as the main games as there are a lot of tracks reused from them(Most notably the theme song is the same one as KH1).

The main drawback with the game are the afforementioned framerate issues and some fairly extreme loading times, but as said, both of these have options to lessen their effect in the options screen, with the full 333mhz mode draining the battery life and for the loads, there is an optional data install of up to 700mb that seriously shortens load times, but you need obviously a lot of space on your memory stick. In addition to this, the game's camera is(As with most PSP games) atrocious, but better than most PSP games in that it functions like the camera in KH1, using the L and R buttons to rotate the camera, with little to no need to have to move the camera up and down(Which is awful to try to do anyways).

The camera issues alone were almost enough to make me want to mark the game down, but considering this is otherwise a truly superb game in a series which looked as though it had long since peaked and it launched at a budget sub £20 and offers dozens of hours of action heavy gameplay, I honestly think this game represents a genuine 5/5 piece of value for money gaming that is well worth anyone's time.

Definitely worth purchasing.
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on 10 September 2010
Yet another success in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. If you've played and enjoyed any of the previous games, this one should also be to your liking, although it may be confusing for those new to the series. Set before the events of Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2, you follow three different characters' story lines from their unique perspectives.

The gameplay is fun, though not brilliant. Instead of summons, you can now use the D-link function, a rather whimsical option that replaces your normal command menu with one that's made from one of the characters you befriend throughout the game. Fun at first, and Aqua's is good when you need access to Cure at the beginning, but not particularly useful. You also seem to hit the walls a lot in this game, rather than enemies, and the Lock-on system is a little flaky about letting you switch targets or deactivate it when compared to previous games.

Much more useful is the arrival of 'Shoot-locks', a targeting system that allows you to fire off multiple long-distance hits. The Mode Change function, activated when you fill the Command bar with attacks from the command menu, is also a decent change. A little like the Drive system in Kingdom Hearts II, your character becomes more powerful and has access to new abilities; however, unlike the Drive system, there's no need to refill a Drive gauge, and you can go back into a mode almost as soon as you come out of it.

The Command charge system that allows you to create new commands is basically an upgraded version of the Synthesis system from the previous games. The plus side is that you can access it anywhere and there's no need for recipes - the downside is that abilities now have to be synthesised as well rather than learnt while levelling up, resulting in a lot of guessing or constant consultation of a guide of some sort.

There aren't really any challenging bosses in this game until you come to the secret bosses at the end, mostly thanks to Shoot-locks, overpowered commands, and finishing moves that make battles easier. The Mirage Arena is there for people who want a challenge, and also as a nice way of levelling up, but overall your enemies just aren't very exciting.

Fans of Square Enix's beautiful FMV cutscenes will also be left feeling disappointed. While the graphics are of a good standard all the way through, the intro is pretty much the only bit of FMV footage in the game. Even the Keyblade Graveyard scene (which was shown in FMV footage as a secret ending to Kingdom Hearts II) has been converted to the in-game graphics style. A good point is that Theatre Mode, introduced in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, is back again; this nifty little feature allows you to re-watch cutscenes again from any point in the game.

Another downside to this game is that even if you hate certain worlds, you're still going to have to play them over at least three times. The least you can say is that your time in each world is short: it only takes around ten minutes to clear some of the first worlds, and scarcely gets harder as the game goes on. The worlds also start feeling very formulaic. However, going back as a different character doesn't feel repetitive, as each character will see a different side to each world.

Another problem of note is that the loading times are appalling, even with 600MB of data installed. It's also awful to play in the low-speed processing mode, which lags annoyingly.

Despite these problems, the story line is interesting and keeps you hooked, and the characters are well-balanced in terms of their individual stories and game play style. The game-play is good, with the frankly fantastic Mode changes, which are fun and useful at the same time, balancing out the D-link system. A great game overall.
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on 28 December 2010
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep tells the story of 3 Keyblade wielders who share the same dream of becoming Keyblade Masters: Terra, Ventus and Aqua. They will accidentally go their own ways at the beginning of the game as is found out in the beginning of the game. You can play through one of the character's stories from start to finish, or save it at some point and start another character's. Once every story has been played through, it is easy to see how they link with each other.

As an RPG, this game is greatly focused on combat, and certainly has the most in-depth battle system of the series. At the bottom-left of the screen is the Command Gauge and your currently installed deck commands. Deck commands are attacks and items which make combat easier. There is a HUGE variety of melee attacks and flashy magic spells, all which you might want to experiment with. (Note: Terra's central point is melee, Ventus favours both and Aqua is the best user of magic). There are also action commands, which make movement easier or allow for better defense. Your most poweful command is the Shotlock command which, if used properly, locks on to multiple enemies and then quickly strikes them (it also renders you invincible). All commands can be levelled up. Further battle techniques include Dimension Links (the gauge is on the bottom-right), which swaps your moveset with another character's - oh, but there's more. Command Melding and Abilities, you will always be left with things (that are NOT gimmicky) to unlock in this awesome adventure.

The levels in this game are known as 'worlds', most which are based off classic Disney movies, such as Snow White and Peter Pan, and some which are original (by Square Enix). There are many different characters to meet and yummy treasures to find. Although the graphics in this game are stunning, the environments can be rather bland and it may feel lonely. Perhaps this is deliberate to prevent distraction during combat, but I don't really know. The camera can be funny sometimes.

But those minor cons are really nothing compared to what this game has to offer. Multiplayer, arena matches, epic boss fights - after about 70 hours of gameplay, I STILL have things to unlock.
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on 21 September 2012
It's hard to start a review of Kingdom Hearts:Birth By Sleep (KH:BBS). I really thought it was an amazing game.The combat was incredibly fluid and it was interesting to play as the three different characters; each of which had distinct fighting styles, abilities, key blades and special modes that they could use. There is also a weird system of fusing abilities to get even better (or sometimes worse) ones which adds a bit more intricacy to the game.

In terms of the story itself I think it's a wonderful prequel to one of square enix's best series, not only building upon the story of each of the three main characters, but also how they themselves are linked to the future keyblade users. What's also interesting is how, while playing through the game with each of the three different characters you see things from each character's perspective so although there are times when their stories overlap, every play through is distinctly different.

There are also a few sidebosses which make for some frustrating or very satisfying battles (I personally went out of my way to beat the ultimate side boss with each character).

Oh and then there's the multiplayer too. I can't remember a lot about it since only one of my other friends had the game. But it was great to be able to test out each other's characters and skills against one another.

If you're a fan of the series and you have a psp then get this game. If you're not a fan then don't worry about it, a few of my friends would always try to get the psp off me so they could play it whenever I had it around them so I can only presume it's fun for non-fans too.
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on 25 October 2014
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep is parallel with Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII in that it is the perfect prequel.
Birth By Sleep as a story shows the three characters path intertwine and weave perfectly and really tugs at the heart as you progress through the game.
In terms of difficulty it ranges from novices who need an easy way to complete it to difficulty settings for those used to the Kingdom Heart games. Although prehaps the game is rather short in terms of the number of levels the narrative, actual gameplay and visuals make up for it.
The actual gameplay is fluid and intresting, certainly the controls and button pressing do not feel moraly degrading by the end of the game (unlike other blade wealding combo attack games)
Personally i prefer Kingdom Hearts 1 Final Mix or Dream Drop Distance. However i do feel Birth By Sleep is a solid and welcoming addition to the series.
Square-Enix have taken a bashing over the last few years over Final Fantasy 13, Stalling on the newly retitled Final Fantasy 15, the constant Remixes and Remastering of old titles etc. However Birth By Sleep does buck that trend and is probrably one of the best examples of a recent Square-Enix game.
I thoroughly recommend Birth By Sleep to anyone wishing to get into the series or wanting a decent Adventure/RPG game for the PSP system.
If you are patient enough though i would wait for the Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix being released in the UK in December 2014 as the Final Mix version is bundled with Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix and the cinematic version of Kingdom Hearts RE:Coded.
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on 31 January 2011
I have been waiting for this game for 5 years, I have been fan of the Kingdom Hearts series since i brought the first Kingdom Hearts back in 2001 on the day of Inception, i have been left perplexed by the number of reiterations Kingdom Hearts 1 and Kingdom Hearts Chain Of Memories but Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep is an astonishing return to form with this the feats of this Action Adventure based RPG, Just how i waited 6 years for Kingdom Hearts 2 that lived up to the hyper of the Secret Movie in Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep as suprass my expectations of the secret movie in Kingdom Hearts 2, Disney characters are fun but just to have Fantastic Looking Main Characters with a Dark yet brilliant story thats so thrilling is so refreshing miracious and not have Disney characters being forced down our necks left, right and centre is a relief, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is an amazing blend of action, story, adventure, visual beauty, interesting, entertaining, and a wonderful journey into a world of dazzling wonders, this Game gets a 10/10 from me and the system is a mix of 358/2 ,Chain of memories and KH2 with something totally new and brilliant the new system is fantastic and thats a big deal coming from me, Excellent Game
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on 19 June 2011
I am new to the Kingdom Hearts (KH) series, so I thought I would begin where the story starts; 10 years before KH1, from the start i was hooked, you can choose which character to play as (Aqua, Terra or Ventus) I chose Aqua to start with. Every level presents new challenges, and levelling you character up ads even more enjoyment, and there's even more to play, as I still haven't completed it with Terra or Ven, I can't wait, Literally, every second spare I am glued to my PSP, Which is a new thing for me as i usually get bored of a game after a few hours! the only fault I can find with this game is that you cant unlock the 'secret ending movie' on beginner mode, but that's irrelevant for more experienced players.
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on 12 September 2010
This is the best KH title up to date. The Battles are fun, the gameplay is extraordinary, the Story is Top-Notch and the atmosphere couldn't be better. The Soundtrack is beautiful, the Worlds are stunning, the Graphics are absolutely insane and the three different campaigns are a lot of fun. The camera is very good, way better handled than in Days and the controls are easy to manage. There are 4 Difficulties and a Secret Ending, so what's more to say, if you own a PSP (I feel sorry for the Go people xD) you cannot miss this one or you'll regret it forever. If you do not own a PSP, rent one or buy one even, because it's definately worth it.
Well Done, Square Enix.^^
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on 22 October 2012
Bought this as im tired of waiting For KH3 (and the HD remake of 1 and 2 have now been split grrrr) wasnt expecting too much but this game is really fun. Bit short and a lack of final fantasy characters is really annoying but doesnt really spoil this game.
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