A little late, but it's a new year, give me a break :P Speaking of which, Happy New Years to everyone :)
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep was one of those games I knew I had to get the second I heard of it, being a big fan of the Kingdom Hearts series. One of the foolish things I kind of wished for was for it to be similar to the PS2 games. Oh how glad I am that it isn't anything like them, because I love the way it is.
The game completely rethinks attack abilities, passive abilities, and items. Past versions used these the same way roughly, you had an items menu for items, the attacks were based on button combinations and situations, and passive ones were just passive. In this one, passive abilities are more similar to the older Final Fantasy games, being attached equipment and mastered that way. Except that they are attached to commands, not equipment. A command is anything you can do other than swing your Keyblade blindly, so items, attack abilities, and magic. You form a small "deck" which you can go though an use while playing.
Also interesting about the commands is how you get them. Although you can buy them or find them, the easiest way to get stronger abilities is by merging them. Fire + Fire = Fira, Fira + Fira = Firaga, etc. Not only is it an interesting system, but for it to work, they needed to add a lot of abilities. Much more than the other games. This allows for a lot more strategy while playing. Why not use Mine Square to surround yourself with mines, then Magnega to pull everyone in for a nice explosive hug? Plenty of fun combos. With multiplayer in this new one, this just adds to the fun.
Another interesting addition is, and I kid you not, Monopoly. Sure it's not called that, and is slightly different, but that's the basic idea. The "Command Board" is where you play Monopoly with commands instead of cities with friends or AI's, which can earn you new abilities(if you stole one you didn't have or got a bonus square) and more importantly, level up your abilities at the speed of light. Playing a game or two of this before going to the second world on the world map will get you nice and prepared.
Multiplayer is much better in this than in the DS game in my opinion. You have 4 options in this one, versus of course, and then the Command Board is available, you can team up on bosses, and you can race. You also have more of a purpose with these, as you earn medals for buying things you can only get in The Mirage Arena, the world that houses the multiplayer.
Story wise, the game is a bit easy in my opinion, and progresses quickly unless you are like me taking the time to get your abilities just right. One thing I found interesting was this is more 3 games in one, than a single game. When I heard of it, I thought you would be progressing through the story switching between the 3 main characters, but it seems you play each one separately from start to finish. I can see this being somewhat interesting, as you are going "I remember that!" for the second and third stories, and filling in blanks, though it's still not quite what I expected.
Overall I love the game, and I'm sure it will be fun to play multiplayer when I have people to play with. My only negative comment for the game so far would be that the camera is a pain in the neck. Oh well. I still highly suggest the game, especially if you are a fan of the series, as it explains quite a bit. Including that Maleficent is officially immortal. Like seriously, does that woman EVER die? Hehe...