introduced gamers to Monster Hunter on the PS2 so very long ago, I have to admit
that I was deeply enthralled by its interestingly unique premise and completely
original gameplay that had gamers taking up the role of a hunter of otherworldly
beasties. Years later, the game resurfaced as Monster Hunter Freedom for Sony’s
handheld and it was a perfect port of the console version and the game still
caught my attention. So when Capcom announced a sequel, I couldn’t be happier.
Monster Hunter Freedom 2 takes us back into the hunt for an excellent sequel fit
for the PSP.
For those who
skipped the first Monster Hunter game or missed out on the PS2 console version,
Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is a game that can stand alone so there’s no worry that
you missed out on some major plot point. You start fresh, hence the fact that
you can’t transfer your original created character from your memory stick, and
the story and characters are new as well. You start the game by creating your
hunter, choosing from a male or female avatar, a few facial options and a number
of hairstyles. Then story begins with your character fighting a huge monster in
the snowy tundra when you are knocked off a cliff. You wake up in Pokke Village,
the same village you were traveling to before you decide to take on the giant
beast, only to find yourself humiliated. You see, the Village Chief had
requested a new hunter since the veteran village hunter is finally retiring. As
the new village hunter, you must prove to everyone that you have what it takes
to live up the last hunter’s reputation.
If you did play
the first Monster Hunter game, you’ll find yourself gradually easing into the
complex gameplay. Of course, the game brilliantly introduces an Academy, a way
of getting a quick crash course in just about every aspect of the game’s
interesting gameplay elements that range from combat to cooking. If you’re not
sure about something, you’ll find plenty of NPC characters that will teach you
some necessary skills that you will put to good use out in the field. In stores,
shopkeepers will tell you what you can do with a Whetstone and if you want to
catch a meal you’ll learn the fine points of fishing. You’ll also learn how to
use items you find during quests and make full body armor suit (complete with a
helmet) or come up with other weapons (like giant swords or even crossbows).
free to explore your surrounds, which is composed of the village, a nearby camp
and a farm, quests are the only way you’ll see beyond the village. Heading to
the Gathering Hall, you’ll be offered a number of quests – all with different
difficulty levels. The good news is that there are over 250 quests so you’ll be
playing this game for quite awhile and most of the quests are considerably
challenging. In some quests you’ll be hunting down certain monsters while in
others you’ll be doing things such as rescuing a fellow hunter who decided to go
out on his own or bring back the bones of a rare creature. Some of the missions
are actually far too challenging to go it alone so you can hire some help or get
a friend (or three) to join you via the Ad Hoc connection. You can even go
online and quest with other players who will meet you in the Gathering Hall if
you send out a request for help.
the game drops the ball when it comes to the combat. There is no lock-on feature
so you will often find yourself swing at nothing. Luckily, you can jump out of
the way of a charging monster but manually turning the camera with the D-pad is
a real pain in the backside. Worst yet, pausing the game can sometimes be
impossible. Aside from the fact that you have to bring up the menu screen and
flip through the option to find it, some missions just don’t allow you to pause.
Another gripe I have is with the fact that you have to pay a fee to attempt a
Still, there are
more positive things about the game than negative ones. There’s a large variety
of monsters you’ll go up against so naturally you’ll want to arm yourself better.
Thankfully, there are literally hundreds of weapons and you can always make good
use of items gathered during a quest. You can, for example, build body armor
made from the bones or scales of a dragon. Dual wielding bladed weapons are also
allowed so you can equip them on the fly. Multiplayer also works wonderfully and
while you can communicate with friends nearby; online features various gestures
from bowing to cheering.
On the graphics
front, Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is an exquisitely impressive-looking game that
is able to display some magnificent graphical details. Pokke Village alone is a
beautiful sight and many of the vistas and surrounds are simply gorgeous. Then
again, there are backgrounds that look rather flat and pixilated and some snowy
areas look way too plain. The monsters and beasts are nicely detailed as well
and the bigger monsters will not fail to get a gasp out of you. There’s some
clipping problems and oftentimes you’ll be walking right through a carcass but
these things can be overlooked.
soundtrack is also quite wonderful since it’s never repetitive and it picks up
dramatically during battle. There’s even a song for when you’re fishing or when
you’re cooking meat. As far as the sound effects are concerned, you’ll want to
play with the volume up because the aural effects will make you feel like you’re
out in the wild. You’ll know a giant mosquito is behind you because you’ll hear
it buzzing behind you. While there’s no real voice acting (well, aside from a
few grunts and cat-like meows from the cat people in this universe) but the
funny gibberish that does come from the characters is actually quite charming.
Freedom 2 for the PSP delivers yet another brilliant and unique game that offers
enough to do for you and your friends. It’s deep and complex gameplay might be a
bit too difficult for the more casual gamer and combat is still way too awkward
even for returning gamers, but with so much to see and do, this is a game that’s
worthy of your handheld. If you’re looking for something different and something
uniquely fun, do not hesitate to give this game a try … you won’t be sorry.
Many of the
250 or so quests offer plenty of variety and you can always stop to go on a
treasure hunt or go fishing. Half the fun of this game is taking part in the
little mini-games such as going fishing or gardening in an actual farm.
Unfortunately, combat is still an awkward and occasionally frustrating
experience. Hunting monsters with up to three others is quite a blast.
graphics look slick and beautifully detailed in some portions of the games.
Sometimes the environments can take on a rather plain look but other times you
won’t be able to help but stop and admire the scenery. There are some monsters
that look so impressive that they fill up the PSP screen rather nicely.
music is beautiful and the sound effects, especially the monster sounds, are
just as nicely detailed as the visuals. You’ll hear some grunts and the like
from the characters but overall the sound effects work beautiful and are as
nicely detailed as the visuals.
Many of the
game’s monsters – big or small – are far too hard to kill and mainly this is the
fault of the fact that there’s no lock on feature. The bigger monsters often
require a helping hand to defeat so there’s no shame in hiring on some help.
If you fancy a
game with a little over 250 quests and the ability to design your own armor and
weapons then this game is for you. You can form a hunting party with a group of
friends to take on the harder quests and there is always plenty to see and do in
the game’s massive environments.
definitely moments when having a friend or two aid you in the three-star quests
will make a big difference and thanks to Ad Hoc you can invite friends to do
just that. You can head into the Gathering Hall online and send a message that
you would like to go on a hunt with other players. The game supports online
through T-Mobile’s HotSpots connection for some online action.
doubt, Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is deep and satisfyingly unique experience that
might not be perfect but still hold your attention enough that you won’t want to
put away your PSP. With literally hundreds of options, a multitude of quests and
the ability to play with other players, this sequel deserves a spot in any
gamers’ PSP library.