Monster Hunter Freedom - PSP Review
Monster Hunter Freedom is a welcome addition to the PSP's library. Indeed, the series has met with phenomenal success on the PS2 particularly in Japan where gamers treasure both RPG styled games and the ability to collect items - both of which are included in large doses in this title. While the PS2 has seen both Monster Hunter and Monster Hunter G released in Japan (with only the former available in Australia at the moment) this is the first time the series is hitting handhelds. Capcom's title is simplistic in its approach. There are no lengthy stories or convoluted cut scenes with the premise simply to become the best hunter in the land.
|Monster Hunter looks good on the PSP.|
In essence Monster Hunter Freedom offers gamers two types of quests - hunting and gathering. By far the most enjoyable are those where you are actually out hunting for specific monsters/animals. The game starts off in a small village which serves as a home base where you can equip items, talk to people and obtain your quests. After some detailed instructions at the beginning it's not too long before you're off into the countryside to hunt a variety of monsters using any means available. It must be said that while the game starts of pretty gently with small creatures easily slain with the most basic of weapons as you progress the enemies get tougher requiring advanced weapons, heavy armour, and a good understanding of how they behave when attacked. Go in unprepared and you're likely to be killed in a matter of moments.
|Taking on a larger enemy.|
The second type, and least exciting, of the quests is gathering items or goods. These see you heading out to look for items such as food to bring back to the base camp. These quests do, sadly, bring the game back a bit as they are time consuming and really remove the enjoyable part of the game - hunting new monsters. Still, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the game it just becomes somewhat tiresome.
|Some of the multi-player action.|
There are some other aspects to the game. At times you can go mining in a nearby hill, or fishing, or growing crops. Each has its benefits to the hunter in terms of new items and goods and while none of the mini-games are overly detailed they are enjoyable.
As with the PS2 game multi-player plays a major role in pushing the gameplay up a few notches. While online modes aren't available the game does support 4-players via ad-hoc mode. This is tremendous fun as you form a party and hunt animals together. Hopefully in future though Capcom will include some online gameplay - or perhaps linking with a PS2 or PS3 game.
Unfortunately there are some problems with Monster Hunter Freedom. Firstly there is some loading on the PSP which becomes somewhat tiresome. The system has been out for a while now and with companies such as Ready at Dawn with Daxter have shown the loads can be virtually removed, or on the brief occasion when they are required, hidden nicely behind a small travel segment. I also found some of the quest lengths to be a bit beyond what one would expect for a portable title.
|Battle in the desert.|
Graphically Capcom's title fares pretty well on the PSP. The texturing is good, while the action is smooth enough however it's the character design, and also the design of the enemies that impresses the most. Not only are they varied, but they also look like they belong in the game world. Given that the game has been out in Japan for over six months this is one of Capcom's earlier titles on the system, but you'd be hard pressed to realise it.
Audio in the game wasn't a strong point on the PS2 and nor is it in this version. Music is atmospheric but the effects are fairly weak. I guess the main problems is that due to the length of the game the music and effects do become repetitive after a while.
|Preparing to use the flash bomb.|
With up to 100 hours of gameplay Monster Hunter Freedom is certain to keep you locked to your PSP for quite a while. It's quite an original game in that it's not a true RPG, nor straight hunting/action game but blends the two elements to create a very enjoyable title although we did find the gathering quests a bit tiresome. If you have some mates with PSP's and spend a good deal of time playing together then Monster Hunter Freedom's multi-player option is well worth a shot. Another solid, if somewhat unspectacular, title on the PSP.
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||Quite a clean looking game, but nothing really groundbreaking.||75%|
|SOUND||As with the PS2 game audio is adequate. Nothing more, nothing less.||60%|
|GAMEPLAY||The hunting is tremendous, the gathering a bit dull. Some loading.||65%|
|VALUE||A very lengthy game which will offers tonnes of gameplay.||80%|
|OVERALL||Monster Hunter Freedom is a good action RPG styled game, and one which fans of the PS2 game should pick up. Unfortunately the gameplay varies from terrific to dull depending on the mission.||70%|