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December 12 2007
Monster Hunter Freedom 2 - PSP Review
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Character design is solid.
There's a country, you might have heard of it, called Japan. In this country certain games get great sales and heaps of attention from their crazed fans, whilst failing dismally in many other countries. One such game is the Monster Hunter series, which has always done amazingly well over there but never really taken off in other markets. Monster Hunter Freedom 2 sees the series returning to the PSP for the second time and offers us much of the same as its first outing.

As per the first game, there's no real plot or story to Monster Hunter Freedom 2, just an opening cut-scene of some random hunter getting attacked by a monster and thrown off a snowy mountain, and finally rescued by another random character. You get nursed back to health and, after customising your character, set out to make a name for yourself in your new home village by hunting monsters. Fairly simple premise and it does the job. As they say, yibbida yibbida, that's all folks, because that's where the plot stops.

So let's move on to the actual game and what you as the player will find yourself doing. Among other things, you will be trekking about the land, collecting ingredients and exploring.... oh and then there's the actual aspect of actually hunting monsters from which the game gets its name.

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Do you like to hunt monsters?
As far as quests go, you're never going to be short here. There are literally hundreds of quests, and even more if you can get a mate to buy the game and take it on in multiplayer too. The quests aren't particularly varied, but they don't feel quite as repetitive as they sound, given there's really only two varieties, which are gathering and combat, with there being two specific quest types of the latter.

Gathering quests are the usual affair. Explore parts of the game world and collect mushrooms, herbs, body parts from monsters and so on. While the combat quests are basically just fighting monsters. You have Slay quests, where you will have to defeat many monsters of the same type, and Hunt quests where you will have to defeat one particular large difficult enemy.

Fighting monsters is definitely what you will be spending most of your time doing, and this can be a lot of fun or a massive headache, it really depends on how patient you are. Monsters look great and slaying them with a massive sword is very satisfying, not to mention carving into their dead bodies and ripping out something that can be used later. If you do enjoy it, then you're in for a treat as there are heaps of monsters everywhere you go. However, it's more likely that you will enjoy it at first, and get very frustrated very quickly with it.

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Now that's an enemy.
There is a lot more to it than just the quests though, and the gameplay in Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is surprisingly deep. You have heaps of weapons to choose from, and once you pick one you will need to maintain it. If your blade gets blunt, you need to sharpen it with whetstones. You can create your own potions, stones, etc using ingredients you get out in the world. There is 150+ different items you can make so if you enjoy this, you have plenty to do. If you're more like me, you'll just want to sell off your ingredients and buy these items to save time. Supposedly you can make great items but combining other items you have made but I never got into this side of the game so that's just something you'll just have to find out about for yourself!

As for multiplayer, Monster Hunter Freedom 2 offers game play modes for 2-4 players in two forms. You can simply run around as a pack of 2+ players completing the same quests as single player, or you can go in with a friend as a pair and complete the treasure hunter quests. Both are a fair bit of fun if you can find a mate with the game, but it's probably not worth buying it just for the multiplayer.

Unfortunately, like most of the other Monster Hunter games in the series, Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is riddled with problems. The first one starts from the very beginning, with massive load times. The amount of time spent in the game world between each load time isn't particularly long while load times are, and I found myself getting very frustrated with this aspect of the game.

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Yet another heated battle.
Another frustrating aspect that is making its return appearance from the previous title is the horrid camera. Actually, that's a bit misleading, as the camera isn't bad. It's the controlling of the camera. You move your character about using the PSPs analogue nub, but you control the camera with the D-Pad. I dunno about you, but if I'm fighting a massive dinosaur looking thing, and trying to dodge its attacks, using the D-Pad is fairly difficult, meaning I am left with two choices. I either get attacked while I'm fixing the camera, or deal with bad camera angles. Its games like this one that really make you wish Sony had included a right stick as well.

One other issue the game faces is a somewhat steep learning curve. The game itself isn't particularly difficult, but your first monster fight isn't really much easier than later ones, meaning that you either get it or you don't, or else you need to spend a lot of time dying to get used to it. It would have been a lot worse if the game was more difficult but it is still somewhat frustrating.

As mentioned, the game's load times are quite excessive, but at least there is a good reason. Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is a very well polished game graphically and runs very nicely all throughout. Everything, from world textures, down to item and character models, look spectacular and run without a hitch, but it's simply not worth the frequent massive load times.

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Heading indoors for a while.
In-game sound is nothing to write home about, but it does the job and there are no real complaints that can be made. Thankfully, there is still no voice acting, so while you will have to do a lot of reading we don't have to put up with horrible out-of-place voices as is the norm in the English versions of Japanese releases nowadays.

Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is by no means a bad game, but it does have a lot of fairly bad issues. On top of that, if you've played the previous outing on PSP, this one offers little more than a facelift and more content. If that's what you're after then you'll love it, and if you've never played the series and can deal with excessive load times, bad cameras and steep learning curves, then you'll be right at home here. For us, the game does little to improve the failings of previous titles and comes as somewhat of a disappointment.

Review By: Michael Hutchesson

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse.
GRAPHICSLooks great, but it's not worth the load times.
SOUNDFair enough, sound is hardly a big part of the game though.
GAMEPLAYGood fun, but riddled with frustrating issues. Could have been so much more.
VALUEPlenty there with multiplayer if you can find another gamer with it.
OVERALLIt's really just an updated version of the first release with a facelift. It's not bad, but it's not the must-have title it might have been.

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