Monster Hunter Freedom PSP
Published by Capcom
Developed by Capcom
Release Date: Out Now
Monster Hunter Freedom, an introduction.
At the time of writing this Monster Hunter Freedom is the biggest selling PSP game in Japan. When you think about it that's pretty amazing when you consider the amount of games that have been released on the console to date, especially in Japan. Monster Hunter Freedom must definitely have something going for it then. Something that's prompted nearly three quarters of a million PSP gamers in Japan to purchase the game. Let's take a look at the game from Capcom and see what the fuss is all about.
What's the game about?
Around a year ago we reviewed Monster Hunter for the PlayStation 2. As the title suggests the main focus of the game was to hunt monsters. More specifically the game placed you in a kind of semi-prehistoric environment and most of the monsters you had to hunt were in fact dinosaur like in appearance. The game not only took care to provide you with offline play but also provided an online mode where you could team up with three others to take on more difficult quests. The game proved to be very popular and soon gathered a loyal following. Monster Hunter Freedom isn't a port of the game that was released here in Europe. In fact it's based on Monster Hunter G, the improved title that was released only in Japan. The big difference is that Monster Hunter Freedom doesn't have an online mode. However, there's a lot of single-player content to compensate for that and a form of multiplayer experience can be had as the game supports Ad Hoc play.
What's good about the game?
Before we go on to talk about the new content that Monster Hunter Freedom offers, let's first talk about the game and what's involved with playing the game. To begin with you'll create your character. You'll get to choose the gender, hairstyle and hair colour of your character etc. You'll also notice an option to change the face of your character. This option also changes the skin tone of your character as well as their face. In truth the character customisation options are a little basic, although what's here is certainly better than no customisation options at all. Once you're done creating your character you'll be taken to your home in the village. The village is essentially your hub as it's from here you'll collect, buy, sell and repair items as well as collect a whole lot of quests that will earn you money and experience points. Quests are of the hunting and gathering variety. As you might expect there's a great selection of weapons and armour in the game and the whole process of completing quests and improving your character with the experience and money earned is definitely an addictive one.
Monster Hunter Freedom is definitely a better single-player experience than the one we experienced in the PlayStation 2 version of Monster Hunter. You'll have access to an area known as The Farm which is basically a piece of land where you can obtain rare mushrooms, mine ore and catch insects. The cat-like creatures known as Felynes can now be trained to cook for your character in the new Felyne Kitchen. There's also a new Treasure Hunter mode for 2 players. The missions in Treasure Hunter mode require co-operation but the reward is that you'll obtain some special items that can then be used in the single-player game. Whilst you can't play online as such, you can take part in four player missions using the PSP's Ad Hoc mode. In truth this doesn't make up for the absence of a true online mode but nevertheless it's still great to be able to link up and play with your fellow Monster Hunter friends, whenever possible.
What's not so good about the game?
Whilst it's disappointing that the game doesn't have a true online mode, the bigger problems are that of awkward camera angles and the lack of a lock-on feature. None of the camera angles on offer feel satisfactory and it's a pain having to constantly correct the camera by tapping the L button. The lack of a lock-on feature also makes combat a little more fiddly than it should be. You still can't pick up items that you accidentally drop, which can occasionally be irritating and is something you'd have thought would have been rectified by now.
How does it look?
Monster Hunter Freedom is actually a pretty impressive looking PSP game. Although the game is on the PSP, it actually looks very similar to last year's PlayStation 2 version which itself was quite a good looking game. If you've played the PlayStation 2 version, you'll recognise characters and most of the locations as they are exactly the same as in the PlayStation 2 version. Load times are a little longer on the PSP version but the load times are nowhere near as bad as on some PSP games we've played. The general presentation of the game is also similar to the PlayStation 2 version, which again is fine as we had no complaints in this respect when we looked at the game last year. As we mentioned earlier the camera is problematic at times and it could have been much better. The frame rate is generally fine and whilst there are some noticeable dips it's never anything problematic.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
The game shouldn't give deaf gamers any problems. All conversations in the game are text based and you are required to press the X button to move the dialogue along so you get to read the text at your own pace. All tutorial messages are in text and there are a variety of text based notes that you can access that give you instructions on how to do things in the game. All quests are given in text too. When you're creating your character you'll notice that you can select their voice. Thankfully this basically determines what their moans and grunts sounds like when they are attacking a monster and is therefore nothing to worry about.
If you're looking for a different kind of hack 'n' slash action/RPG type game for your PSP then Monster Hunter Freedom is definitely worth a look. There's a lot of single-player content here and if you have friends who also own the game you can even take advantage of the multiplayer missions that are available. Of course without a true online experience it's not quite the same game as the PlayStation 2 version of Monster Hunter but given that it is essentially a PSP version of the improved Monster Hunter G that was only released in Japan (and has some unique features of its own), it's definitely a game Monster Hunter fans are going to want to own.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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If you can get over the fact that there is no real online mode, you'll find a single player experience will keep you busy for months. The wayward camera and lack of a lock-on feature takes the shine off what is otherwise a very engaging title.