Great follow up to the first, improving upon its original concept
If you haven't gotten this game, get it. Many of the flaws of the old game were fixed and what wasn't broken got a cementing and some new features to further richen the experience. It just feels like this generation's Final Fantasy VII in every way, save graphics and gameplay, the latter being better than the Playstation RPG.
One of the most noticeable parts of the game is the gameplay. Like most Square Enix games, you'll embark on a perilous quest to in the end save the world. Along the way recruit new characters (automatically, sad to say) and watch them grow and develop before you. However, this game is a little more about game than story. You'll battle in real time without a special little area secluded just for battle as in so many RPG's before it (including this game's prequel). It includes most of the remains of the last game's system, including the greatly integrated abilities and menus (yes, menus). However, almost nothing from the last game is carried over except select skills. The summons you knew before work more like the limits I'll explain later. Although this is a nice new feature, it's sad to see that so little summons and you'll probably hate Stitch and Chicken Little. The magic also gets a sad overhaul, destroying the earlier spells from before. While the spells sound good on paper, they do very little. Plus if ever the time comes that you run out of magic, it regenerates automatically instead of with hits, letting you cast as many spells as possible without having to earn it really. In fact, the spells are more supplementary than integral to the battles.
However, the rest is pretty well pulled off. You still bash away at the Heartless (and Nobodies this time around), but there's a bit more strategy thanks to the reaction commands. Coincidentally, this new system feels much like Resident Evil 4's similar system, the only difference being that you only use ▲ and that there's a lot more variety. They can be as simple and rudimentary as Reversal (sliding around to the Dusk's backside) to difficult and highly involved (like the ones in the final boss fight). Along with this is the new limit command carried over from the parent series Final Fantasy. It sucks up your magic for a devastating attack that requires the use of a partner in your party. It's pretty well implemented, except for the Limit Gauge that doesn't really do anything but clutter up the screen. You can also use something called Drive Form in which you exchange a party member (always Donald and/or Goofy). Fortunately, this feature is well implemented unlike the magic. The game will customize itself to whatever form you use the most. So if you're a slick shooter (Wisdom) or a crazy button masher (particularly Valor), there's something here for you. Gummi ships this time around feel a bit more intergrated into the whole game. They're still not at the level of not feeling like a side note, but the missions this time are like a cute Star Fox. You can create your own ship (but don't, it's cumbersome and confusing) and unlock new missions and ships. The game can also be played in first person, but don't bother. The fact that you can't see your Keyblade is a bit of an oddity, the constant spins in battle seem disorienting and you can't lock on while in this mode. However, despite how all this wraps up majestically, it doesn't make for a long game. In fact, it seems like you're sprinting from cutscene to cutscene.
The graphics are a vivid change from the dark and grim games making up the populous of the game world. Each world is a great cavalcade of color, like a Mario game with a boost of Disney. However, the graphics sometimes seem PS1-era flat (like when the camera zooms in on Axel when you first fight him) and the sprited mouth movements don't line up with the words and will continue to speak in between the gaps of words and sentences.
The music in this game is on par with Final Fantasy, Fire Emblem, Dragon Warrior and other RPG's. It features carefully orchestrated pieces of delight. The voice acting is also pretty good, although while some voices are the best in this industry (Leon, all Disney characters), some of them suck because of the acting (Cid) or the voice of the person (Aerith's emotionless performance in particular). All in all, the music is OK but the voice acting is where it excels.
But what Square Enix game wouldn't be complete without a tear jerking story? Fortunately, Kingdom Hearts II up the ante in story. If you haven't played the first 2 games, then don't worry. The game's intro and prologue will bring you up to speed (and 1 mile faster). The story itself is much more complex with many more plot twists. It also feels much darker due to the main villain. Whereas this game's villain is a group of brooding cloaked superfreaks longing for true existence, the original's was a Disney villain (albeit an evil one) and then, briefly, an evil doppelgänger/Heartless creator. And just like I said before, it has a Final Fantasy VII feel to it. Evil villain you pity and transforms into a biblical sized leviathan? Check! Death of a character that moves you to the point of tears? Check! Complex side story about revenge? Check!
If you're looking for a good game to last some good amount of time, look past the kiddy Disney layer that was slightly peeled away and get Kingdom Hearts II.