Monster Hunter Freedom 2 PSP
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
Release Date: Out Now
Close to a year and a half ago we reviewed Monster Hunter Freedom for the PSP. That game was closely based on Monster Hunter G, a Japanese only title. As the title of the games suggest, one of the main aims in the game was to hunt dinosaur-like monsters but there were other things to do too. Cooking, crafting and treasure hunting were just some of the things you could do in Monster Hunter Freedom. What the game really lacked however, was online play, something that made the PlayStation 2 version rather unique. Despite this major omission however, Monster Hunter Freedom proved to be extremely popular in Japan where it was known as Monster Hunter Portable.
Given the popularity of the previous Monster Hunter Freedom title, it should come as no surprise that Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is, for the most part, more of the same. Naturally you'll begin the game creating your character. If you have a saved game file from Monster Hunter Freedom on your PSP memory card, the game will import your character data and trade the weapons and items you had acquired in the first game for special tickets. You can change your character's appearance if you wish. Any items that can't be imported will be exchanged for money and a portion of your money will also be transferred which seems a fair way of doing things. You'll also have the Hero of Kokoto biography added to your item box.
Once you've created or imported your character, you'll see a short movie showing you being knocked over an icy precipice by a rather large and aggressive monster. Luckily the thick snow broke your fall and when you awaken in a house in Pokke Village you learn from your rescuer that the only damage you suffered was some bruising and frostbite. It turns out that you're to be the new hunter for the village; it was the previous hunter who rescued you. Essentially then this means that you have a whole variety of quests waiting to be completed. The quests involve gathering, hunting, slaying and treasure hunting amongst other things. To begin with you'll only have access to easy quests (these quests usually have to be completed within a time limit) but as the game progresses you'll have some really challenging monsters to defeat and tasks to complete.
The sheer amount of content and things to do in Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is amazing. There are thousands of items and weapons in the game. In fact I don't recall ever seeing so many items and weapons in any game, let alone a handheld title. In addition to completing quests there are many things to craft (and believe me when I say that there is an unbelievable amount of depth to the crafting system), a farm to explore and harvest goods from between quests, food to cook and so forth. You'll have assistance from cat-like creatures known as Felynes and their help can prove invaluable, if a little expensive. Should you have friends who own a PSP and a copy of the game; you can play with up to three of them and complete your quests co-operatively, which is a nice touch. In short there is just so much to do here it's conceivable that you could be playing the game for the next few years.
There are some disappointments with Monster Hunter Freedom 2 and sadly they are practically the same disappointments as those that we had with Monster Hunter Freedom. The game still doesn't offer a way of playing online and whilst it does offer ad hoc multiplayer, it's only of use if you have PSP owning friends who also own a copy of the game. The game still won't allow you to pick up an item you may have accidentally dropped, which is really annoying. There still isn't a lock-on ability, which can cause complications during battles. Load times are plentiful and in some cases quite lengthy. You'll find a couple of options (in the game's options menu) that shorten the load times but they must put extra demands on the PSP battery as you're warned that the game should be plugged in for those settings, which isn't ideal if you intend to play the game on the move.
Monster Hunter Freedom 2 actually looks very good for a PSP title. The game's cutscenes are particularly impressive for a handheld game. Not only do the graphics look very good but the environments in the game are impressive for their size. The frame rate holds up pretty well but as we've already mentioned, the load times are numerous and at times quite long. The troublesome camera makes a return from Monster Hunter Freedom and it's as awkward as ever. Seeing as the character movement is carried out via the analogue stick you have to use the directional buttons to turn the camera and change its elevation which is just plain awkward. You can press the L button to pull the camera back behind your character but it's something you have to do far too often. During combat the camera angles prove to be a real test of patience.
Like the previous game in the series, Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is fine for deaf gamers. All of the dialogue in the game is given in text. You need to press the X button to continue the dialogue so you'll always be able to read the text at your own pace. All of the tutorial messages are shown in text. Quest information is also shown in text and you can recall this information at any time during a quest. During a quest you're shown how much time you have left to complete the task at hand. The game makes good use of icons that, amongst other things, help you to see which people want to talk to you whilst you're in the village.
It's highly likely that if you enjoyed what Monster Hunter Freedom had to offer you'll appreciate Monster Hunter Freedom 2. The game has gone down fantastically well in Japan (where it's known as Monster Hunter Portable 2nd) and at the time of writing has been named as Japan’s joint Game of the Year at the Tokyo Game Show. Indeed, in many respects the game is impressive and it offers far more replay value than practically any other PSP title to date. However, Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is not without its problems. What's more, these problems are the exact same problems that Monster Hunter Freedom had and it's disappointing to see that none of the problems have been sorted out for this sequel. That said however, if you could live with the problems in Monster Hunter Freedom then you should regard Monster Hunter Freedom 2 as an essential purchase. For all its faults, there's no denying that it's still an enjoyable and extremely deep game.
In terms of the sheer amount of content the game contains, and the longevity and depth the game has, it's one of the most impressive PSP titles to date. It does have it's fair share of problems however and isn't a game that everyone will appreciate. Those who do appreciate it though will find a game that's quite capable of keeping them occupied for many months to come.