Saturday, August 25, 2007

Monster Hunter Freedom

Genre: Adventure
Credits: 2003 Capcom Entertainment, Inc.


Monster Hunter Freedom Items Product Description:
In Monster Hunter: Freedom, non-stop adventures await you in the land of ferocious bloodthirsty beasts. Master a dynamic, ruthless game world and carve out a name for yourself, through immersive gameplay and action packed battles. New Felyne Kitchen - Hire feisty chefs to produce unique meals to help enhance your abilities.

Despite Its Flaws, Arguably The Game For The PSP! >>> by Voldemort (08.11.2006)
Monster Hunter Freedom is a port of Monster Hunter G, a Capcom-made game involving, well, monster-hunting. While the game has no story to speak of, and a fairly high learning curve that involves a spasmic camera, once you get hooked on this game, it’s hard to ever stop.

It would be a lie to say that this is a perfect game, but there are just so many things going for it that those who learn to like the game easily overlook its numerous flaws in favor of one of enjoying one of the best games to ever come out for the PSP.

Story: Not Applicable

You are a monster hunter. You want to be the very best in your land. That’s pretty much it, and Capcom makes no attempt to make you feel like they’re weaving together an epic of a storyline.

That’s all good, really. Unlike similar monster-based games like Pokemon, this isn’t an RPG. This is an adventure game, as in lieu of leveling up, it’s your weapons and armor that get better and stronger.

Gameplay: A (9)

This score assumes you have gotten over the initial humps of the game, namely the quirky camera, and the tutorial missions. After you get past that, you find that this game offers so much in the way of gameplay.

First of all, instead of leveling up, you get better by getting better weapons and armor. To get better weapons and armor, you kill monsters. When you get better weapons and armor, you kill even stronger monsters. By killing these stronger monsters, you get even better weapons and armor to -- you guessed it -- kill much stronger monsters.

It’s an endless but fun cycle, and while I’m discussing it in broad strokes right now, the game is just addictive because of this feature. There are a myriad of ways to take down any given monster, whether you use a short sword and shield, a gigantic great sword, a long-reaching lance, a devastating hammer, or an explosive gun. Having this many options simply makes for a highly engaging game, and the fact that there’s some sort of variety even within the same weapon types really doesn’t help curb the addictiveness of the game.

As you go further in the game, it gets more and more challenging, and for instance, you’d feel stuck against, say, a fire-based monster. Naturally, you’d want to get a water-based weapon, but to do that, you need to kill a water-based monster a few times over. But then, you want to do it quickly, so you kill a thunder-based monster a few times to get a good thunder-based weapon, then you realize that to hasten that process, you need to get a fire-based weapon since the thunder-based monster is weak to fire. But of course, since you wanted to get a fire-based weapon, you have to kill… yep, a fire-based monster, which is what you’ve been trying to kill, to begin with.

The monsters of significance generally fall under one of two things: wyverns, and dragons. While there are only two dragons, there are a wide variety of wyverns, and they still look like dragons, although significantly smaller than them, and with no arms. Throughout stages, there are various other smaller monsters, and items to gather in key areas within a map. All of these yield even more items to work with for armors and weapons, or at the very least, supplies for healing, buffing up your attack power, and so forth.

Essentially, when you want to do a mission, you approach the Village Elder or the Guild Outpost, pick the mission you want to do, then try to accomplish it in a time limit, usually 50. Then, you get reward items and money if you complete the mission, and guild points, which allows you to choose more titles for your Guild Card, the higher the number of guild points you have is. Guild Cards are your way of identifying yourself to other MHF players when you link up with them via ad-hoc, which can prove to be a very fun experience. Obviously, the more missions you complete, the more new missions you can get to unlock.

There are item shops, as well as a shop that allows you to use the stuff you’ve accumulated to make new weapons and armor. You also have a farm that you visit regularly to get items from, and a kitchen at home run by Felynes; cat creatures who cook food for you in order to give you better stats and some skills for your next mission. You can also get skills from the armor you wear.

Given all this, the options for playing the game are limitless. On top of weapons, you even have flash bombs, sonic bombs, barrel bombs, and pit traps, which further add to the fun factor of this game once you get over the initial humps.

Graphics: A+ (10)

Lush scenery, vividly-detailed wyvern and dragons, noticeably different armors and weapons, all of these showcase the graphics powerhouse the PSP can be, with PS2-quality graphics that are second to only Tekken: Dark Resurrection, among all the games I’ve played thus far.

This game is loads of eye candy, as each of the different stages have a different feel, although the detail does present a challenge, particularly when the trees block your line of sight, and hinder you from seeing what a wyvern is up to. This is all part of what keeps the game from ever being too easy, and trains the player to operate the camera optimally while fighting at the same time.

My only gripe with the graphics is that unlike the Japanese version, the gore factor in the other non-Japanese versions have been noticeably toned down. That being said, when you hit a monster, blood doesn't gush out as generously as it does in the Japanese version, which I find weird, since they didn't hold back for Grand Theft Auto on the PSP, and in that game, you were killing people, not wyverns.

Music & Sound: B+ (8)

Limited music tracks, around one or two per stage, I believe, and maybe a couple of tracks once you’re fighting a boss. However, what keeps this score high is its sound effects, as every single hack, slash, shot, explosion, cry, and grunt have corresponding sound effects.

I especially love the way certain blades “sing”, the way Eternal Strife and Eternal Schism do when you slash with them. It’s just music to my ears.

This game’s sound effects are just great, and you can’t tire of them at all.

Replayability: A+ (10)

This game is a gift that keeps on giving. I have been playing for 210 hours already, and I haven’t even done half of all the missions yet. There’s practically no “ending” for the game, as killing every monster around isn’t enough since you want to start making weapons or armor out of their parts, which involves killing them more than just once. In the event you want a change of pace, you can even start over and choose a character of the opposite gender just to see how different the armors for that character would be.

Monster Hunter Freedom will keep you glued to it for hours, from the glorious moment you kill your first wyvern to the 100th time you slaughter a Red Fatalis dragon. This game is, without a doubt, worth shelling out hundreds of hours on.

Miscellaneous Pros And Cons:

- Decent loading times, but moving between different areas in a map requires loading, so moving from spot to spot can be annoying as you wait between 6-15 seconds per screen.

+ X-Link Kai makes this game even better, as you can finally go online via it.

- No online by default.

+ You can choose different voices for your character when making one, which is a nice touch.

- Spasmic camera can go first-person in the middle of heated battle, and requires you to constantly manipulate it with the L trigger and the d-pad. This gets especially annoying when trying to run away from a battle, as you have to turn the camera before moving, which might get you killed. Avoid Area 9 of the Forest and Hills stage at all costs when fighting a boss. The camera there is horrendous.

Overall: A (9)

This is not the perfect game, but this is arguably the best game on the PSP right now, with an addictive gameplay, loads of things to kill and collect, great graphics, and an awesome level of challenge, Monster Hunter Freedom is a must-have for any PSP owner out there. Quite simply, there is no reason to miss out on it for the system as it is, without a doubt, a gift that just keeps on giving.

You can’t go wrong with this. Highly recommended.

Player Status: Hunter Rank 5 (Out of 5)
Difficulty: Easy to learn, hard to master.
Completion Time: Not applicable.
Highest Level Achieved: Hunter Rank 5 (Out of 5.)

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