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.
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.
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.
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.
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