Monster Hunter Freedom Review
August 21, 2008 § Leave a comment
Monster Hunter Freedom could be called something of a cult game outside of Japan. It hasn’t garnered much critical acclaim, but fans of this traditional hack an’ slash don’t just like it, they love it, much to the confusion of everyone else. The sad truth is, MHF isn’t that good a game.
The basic gameplay revolves around your unnamed protagonist (completely of your creation) receiving quests from other inhabitants of the village. These quests will for the most part revolve around you setting out in to one of five distinct areas to kill a certain monster a certain amount of times. Completing these quests will not only net you cash needed to buy items and armour but by hunting around you can gather additional materials which can then be combined to make more powerful items or equipment.
All these ideas sound excellent on paper, you have an incentive to continue playing as well as sufficient reward to add to the sense of progression. The execution however lags well behind. Simple design choices such as having to return to your house to change equipment, the complete omission of a pause button and the inability to change direction whilst attacking hamper the experience to a frustrating degree. For most of my time with the game I was forced to stick with the beginning sword and shield combination – not because I preferred the play style but because using any faster weapon left me open to endless attacks due to how cumbersome they were.
It’s also very apparent that Monster Hunter pushes the PSP graphically very hard, sometimes to the detriment of the overall experience. Each of the five zones that you complete quests in is then further subdivided into sections with individual load times between them. This in itself wouldn’t be an issue, but tempers frequently run high when monsters exist which can knock you into a previous area, forcing you to endue two load screens in quick succession. The upshot of this is that Freedom is an amazing looking PSP game with vast backdrops and a large number of monsters on screen at once.
Monster Hunter Freedom’s finest hour comes with large dragon-like creatures (called Wyverns) which you will periodically have to dispatch. In these cases it’s not a simple matter of just running up to them and spamming their weak point with the triangle button but instead holding back, placing traps, or leaving poisoned meat whilst you remain out of sight to impede your opponent. These encounters, whilst hard, are the high point of the game, the point at which all Monster Hunter’s grand ideas fall into place.
Like Army of Two, the addition of up to 4 player co-op is a huge bonus for the game. Previously impossible missions fly by with ease, and the competition for the best loot makes it worthwhile to return to previous quests. Not all the missions can be played in multiplayer, which prevents you from enlisting help to complete the main game, but the co-op missions are still massively useful, both as training, as as loot gathering expeditions.
It’s not beyond the realms of possibility for you to play Monster Hunter and enjoy it immensely but in order to do so you’ll have to consciously ignore all it’s flaws. It could never be called a great game, but the ideas it has are developed enough to make it an enjoyable experience, especially when combined with ad-hoc multiplayer. Perhaps the only sound advice that could be given on this game is to rent it first, and then you’ll know.