!!POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!!
If you're a fan of the Final Fantasy series and somehow know everything there is to know about Square Enix, then I'm sure you'll know about the Kingdom Hearts series.
Kingdom Hearts is an RPG collaboration between Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios, and it's one of the most highly rated series for the RPG category.
Now, if you've played past Kingdom Hearts games, then you'll recognize a lot from this one:
Birth By Sleep contains the players ability to "customize your deck", allowing you to put the moves and spells that fit your fighting style the best. A new aspect of the game is the "Command System". At the top of your technique roster on the playing screen is a gauge and it is filled up by attacking enemies, using spells or special moves in the deck. Once filled up, a special move would be released, or, if special requirements are fulfilled, a special form will be taken, unleashing more powerful attacks.
(8/10)After filling up the gauge, you can sometimes go into the special mode, even when you don't want to, and sometimes that can cause you problems, because you do want to get the best out of the more powerful combos, but you're not watching you life points, and it is easy to die this way. On the upside, the damage you deal is more powerful, and sometimes using the special moves is fun, and can save your hide more than once.
The Command Board is another new feature of the game, being accessible while traveling between worlds. While on the Command Board, it's just like a regular board game, you roll the dice and are playing against one or two other characters, such as Queen Minnie and Captain Justice for the Disney Town Command Board. While playing, you're able to place cards down on panels that you can level up throughout the session. Every space has it's own unique effect on the characters and special events can be triggered if you land on a specific panel.
(7/10) The Command Board is, in some ways, kind of useless, the only thing you gain from winning is leveling up the various moves you placed on the panels, and even if you don't when you still gain some level points. Still, it makes for a semi-entertaining addition.
The Command Board for the Land of Departure, with Terra vs Aqua vs Ventus
Probably the newest thing is the Dimension Link. (also called D-Link)
The D-Link is on the command menu when you press [>] and what it does is give you access to moves that allies from different worlds lend to you. Companions like Cinderella, even though she's not with you, she can temporarily be called out to supply you with a new range of attacks and spells replacing the ones you already have.
At some point, a final move is activated and is similar to the special mode. Every ally has something different to offer and every ally can be leveled up twice to become even more powerful than before.
(8/10) The D-Link gauge can be filled with little blue orbs that come out of defeated enemies, which is a lot, but after one D-Link is used, you can't use another one until the gauge is filled again. This sucks if you like to see all the different moves your allies have all at once, but if you have patience, then it's cool. The D-Link can be useful in many situations, like when you're dying, some of your allies offer the spell Cure to heal yourself. Another good thing is that there's many D-Links, so there's a lot to choose from.
Ven using "Ohana Beat" from Experiment 626's D-Link
The ShotLock command is a first person spell casting that was made for targeting multiple enemies at once, from a far range. There are different ShotLock commands and they level up and get more powerful. Unlike the Command gauge, you can activate this one yourself by holding down the L and R buttons. The gauge can be filled by merely attacking enemies, so it's not too much of a hassle since there's a lot of them.
(9/10) SL is very useful in many situations, especially against mulitple enemies. During boss fights, when there's only one person to target, is when it can be especially useful. Depending on what SL style you use, a great amount of health can be knocked off, and sometime, if the boss's life bar is low enough, it can even finish a battle for you. The only thing I see wrong with the SL command is the fact that when your loading and targeting enemies, they can still attack you. Other than that, I would utilize the SL as much as possible.
Terra using his ultimate ShotLock, Ultima Cannon
If you know Square Enix, then you know to expect great things in the stories they tell. Birth By Sleep is no exception; In this game, there are three different characters to choose from, each with their own style. Every character goes to the same worlds, but in different orders and have different encounters with the different characters from those worlds.
The characters are Terra, Aqua, and Ventus and their abilities surround speed, magic, and strength--
From left to right: Aqua, Terra, and Ventus
Terra: Out of the trio, Terra is the strongest and therefore mostly relies on his strength to get him through his battles. His defense scores are the lowest of the three, but he has enough life and strength to make up for it. Because he is the biggest, this also makes him the slowest, but fear not, the “Dash” command is enough to have you dodge most attacks. His magic skills aren't the best but, leveling up, it gets a lot better. (8/10)
Aqua: The only girl, Aqua is the character with the best magic skills. This being said, she also has the best defense skills, and that makes up for her low starting life. As you can see, she's a magic-based character and also has a decent amount of agility to add to it. Her barrier is all around her so no matter what direction she's attacked from, it can be blocked; another technique she has to dodge enemy attacks is her cartwheel, which, just like Terra's dash, is invincible. That move is best used in boss fights when your life is low, but can be used all the time anyway.(7/10)
Ventus: Being the smallest character, Ven is also the fastest; he uses his swiftness to land quick combo attacks that are sometimes impossible to break. Unlike most others who use the Keyblade, Ven uses his in a reverse grip. His magic skills aren't as great as Aqua's but they are better than Terra's, and since he not as strong as Terra, his speed makes up for that. Unlike Aqua, and like Terra, Ven can only block frontal attacks, so it would be good not to have enemies swarming around you. (has not played/10)
Only the first ten minutes of the game are shared by all three characters, and even so, you're controlling Ventus. At the end of the game, after you've completed every scenario,
If you've played past KH games, then the story will still surprise you. The game is a prequel to the whole series, and explaines so much, but until you've beaten the ENTIRE game, it's hard to understand what's going on – much like SE's other games.
As always, Square Enix has put together beautiful arrangements for the different worlds and different situations you get yourself into. Even though some of the music is recylcled from previous KH games, it's still nice to hear yourself end up humming to the music. The Voice acting is beautiful and you can feel the emotion in it, and the SFX are really spot on. So this calls for a (10/10)
Replayability: Uh, that's up to you. I know I would. But that's just me.
Overall score: 8.375/10
If you would like to learn more: Kingdom Hearts Wikia: Birth By Sleep page. Go to page at your own risk. There ARE SPOILERS!!