Review by samaritanman
"MHF2 - The Complete Review"
If you're reading this, it's most likely because a) You want to find out more about this MHF2 game everyone's been telling you about, or b) You already have this amazing game and you want to get a second opinion on its quality. Well, if you're "a", then I'm here to tell you to BUY THIS GAME, and if you're "b", then I'm here to reassure you. Anyway, the sooner you finish this review, the sooner you can get hunting, so read on.
Ok, let's get one thing straight. There isn't a story here. If you only play games for their stories, then you won't like MHF2. But the thing about this is, it doesn't need a story to be an amazing game. In fact, if it had a story, it would detract from the pure awesomeness. It's called "Monster Hunter Freedom 2", not "Monster Hunter Linear 2". 'Nuff said.
Well... Where do I start... The graphics in MHF2 are incredible! Everything from the intro video, right to one of the many epic wyvern battles, will honestly blow your mind! It's often hard to believe that you're playing it on a handheld device.
All weapons and armor that you acquire during your hours of gaming will display on your character as you equip them, and they are painstakingly detailed. Say you hunt and kill one of the many creatures, and make a set of armor with the materials it drops. When that armor is equipped, it will actually be obvious which creature it was based off, not to mention it will look awesome to boot. And when you consider just how many unique pieces of equipment exist in MHF2, it's hard not to be amazed at the attention to detail.
The creatures of MHF2 (a.k.a Wyverns, Elder Dragons, and a few others) are also spectacular in their design. Just look at some pictures of them to see what I mean. There're just so many creatures, I can't really do them justice in a single review. Also, when you meet each major "boss" for the first time, there's a short cutscene showing the great beast strutting its stuff. Nothing too special, but it still looks pretty cool.
In the actual gameplay, each attack animation is well thought out and cleverly structured, your character model will dazzle you with its smooth motions, and each impressive map will captivate you completely.
And to top off this work of art, there is a gallery for unlocked movies, and no slowdown or lagg to speak of.
The majority of MHF2's soundtrack is based on ambience, but it does have a few actual melodies, depending on what's happening. For instance, when a large "boss" monster sights you in a hunt, a track will play. What this track is, now that depends on which map you're hunting in. The different tracks suit the maps perfectly, and they never get old.
The single minor problem with the music would be the Pokke Village theme. It is basically a too-short tune played on a loop for as long as you're in or around the village. However, you won't notice this often at all, if ever, as the tune, although short, perfectly matches the feel of the village.
Music aside, now onto sound effects.
When you start your new character, one of the customization options is the hunter's voice. Now, this doesn't affect you too much as you'll eventually be covered in armor that blocks out must most of your characters grunts and screams, but it's still a nice touch and there's certainly a lot of choices in that area.
There's a lot of the usual stuff you'd expect from an action RPG, such as quiet footsteps when walking, heavy footfalls when running, regular breathing, background noise, and the list goes on. It's all perfectly done, and very convincing. Also, a very nice touch is that the noises your character makes when in action are often directly influenced by the equipment you're wearing. For example, there is a hammer that is shaped like a giant teddy bear, and when you swing it it emits a squeaking sound. Obviously, that kind of weapon is more of a novelty, but believe me, there are many weapons that influence sounds, and most of them are deadly serious.
All in all, I'd suggest headphones for this title! The perfectly executed sounds of MHF2 truly do help provide the ultimate hunting experience.
And now, onto the gameplay section of this review.
This is undoubtedly the best part of MHF2.
May be hard to believe, considering the heaping praise I've already given it's other aspects, but honestly, this is how I see it: When it comes to gameplay, MHF2 takes any other game you can think of, knocks it flat onto its face with a hammer blow, shaves it bald with a pair of dual blades, and turns it into a regular pincushion with a lance, all before chopping off its head with a mighty greatsword.
Seriously folks, it's that good.
MHF2 is a real-time action-RPG. Meaning you don't take turns attacking or whatever, everything is done in real time. It is also quest based, which means that if you want to hunt a specific Wyvern, you'll have to start its quest. And if you haven't unlocked its quest, you'll have to complete the quests required to do so. The basic playing method of the game is this:
1) Manage your items and equipment.
2) Do a quest.
3) Use materials gained from the quest to make better items and equipment.
4) Rinse and repeat.
That's just the basic idea, there's a lot of depth in the actual game. Hunts will take a lot of planning, meaning item distribution and creation (actually very entertaining), or you can manage your farm, or even try to advance your Hunter Rank, a.k.a HR, to unlock harder quests. Heck, if you're really bored (not likely), you can drool after that shiny new weapon at the blacksmith. But the majority of your time playing MHF2 will be spent in the actual quests.
You first start the game with a short cutscene, showing you being chased off a cliff by a Tigrex (one of the cooler Wyverns this game has to offer). Then you wake up to the nagging of the Village Chief. Or something like that. It doesn't really matter what happens then, you can pretty much skip the scenes without missing anything. The problem, not with this introduction, but with many of the people who see it, is that they tend to think that this means there will be a story. Then that leads to them saying how weak a story it is, even pathetic, which leads to misleading, low reviews. THERE IS NO STORY (see top of review)! This is only an introduction to the game, not the beginning of a story! Ok, glad that's out of the way.
So, once the introduction is finished, you can finally begin the fun. Well, not yet, there are a few basic things you must do first. Talk to everyone (and pay attention, as the tips they offer can be very helpful), explore your in-town options, stuff like that. When you're finally ready to do a mission, find the Training Instructor. He'll give you some basic tutorials, which are optional, but they really help you get accustomed to the control scheme.
Speaking of the controls, here is a bit of info as to what you can do, at least in quests (in your village, it's pretty basic Menu/Interaction controls). You can sheathe and unsheath your weapon of choice, and usually perform two basic attacks. Those are just the basic attacks because there are many combos that can be pulled off, although most of them take practise if you want to be effective with them. The combos themselves depend on the type of weapon you choose, but there's so much variety there that I would be hard-pressed to fit all that in a single review. Each weapon has its own entirely different playing style. Let's say you play through all the quests (quite an achievement) with nothing but a Longsword. You could try fighting one simple monster with a Lance and it would be a disaster! You have to learn to control each weapon type individually, which adds up to loads of extra playing time, and each weapon is an absolute joy to master. I haven't even mastered half of them yet, and I don't know anyone who can use them all with equal effectiveness. Also, some weapons can block, whereas some cannot. Some are long range, some are not. But they always balance out neatly. If you interact with the MHF2 community much, you'll find a much prejudice towards certain weapon types. Don't let this change your mind, as in the right hands, they're all equally powerful. Just use whatever feels best to you, and when you feel like moving on, do so! Also, when your weapon is sheathed, you can hold the Left shoulder button and navigate through the the item menu with Square and Circle. When you've found the item you want to use, simple release the Left shoulder button and hit Square. This will most likely seem akward at first, but you'll get used to it quite quickly. There's even a weapon that allows you to use certain items when blocking, but I'll let you figure that out for yourself.
Some people complain about the fact that you control the camera with the directional buttons. This actually works very well! Granted, it takes some getting used to, but if you're going to throw down the game after half an hour of trying to master the controls and finally giving up, you probably don't have the patience anyway. In fact, there isn't really a better way they could've managed the camera system, and it eventually becomes a large and intriguing part of gameplay. And trust me, you'll come to a point where the controls feel so natural, they're just an extension of your hand.
One of the most entertaining parts of MHF2 is the crafting system. Basically, when you kill a creature, you can carve off it simply by standing by the carcass with your weapon sheathed and hitting the O button. How many carve chances you get, well that depends on the creature, as do what materials you get. With these materials, as well as many other materials (ores, bugs, etc), you can craft or improve weapons and armor. It's simple, yet extremely satisfying, and it's the backbone of the game.
MHF2 has a steep learning curve, especially if you're a first-timer at MH games. Consider this: You train your fighting skills for ages, then, when you finally think you're good enough, you go against your first real "boss". Then, after many hours of learning its move sets, its habits, and figuring out the best way to take it down, you finally defeat it (while wearing your best armor, and wielding your best weapon). Now, you play for a while longer, and kill many stronger creatures. I can almost guarantee that you'll go back to that same first creature, and you'll be able to kill it naked, with a crummy weapon. As this should tell you, it is a largely skill-based game, and in it, practice really does make perfect.
Another complaint that has been made many times is about the lack of lock-on. That's right; there is NO lock-on in MHF2, or any of the MH games. Meaning that you can swing your sword for ages, but if you don't know what you're doing, you won't even be able to nick your opponent. Laziness on behalf of the scripters says you? All part of the learning curve, says I! If MHF2 had a lock-on system, it would take away much of the realism, and make it TOO EASY. I love knowing that if I don't time my attacks just right, I'll miss completely, or do hardly any damage. This was done intentionally (once again, steep learning curve. Don't expect to master MHF2 straight away)! The realistic feeling of this game is just amazing with its superb control system, and the rush of pride you get as you take down that Kut-Ku for the first time, well, it's quite something. If there was lock-on, it would just be another boring grindfest.
If you're a fan of action games, this is DEFINATELY a must-buy in the gameplay department. Heck, it's a must-buy in every department! There are many elements of strategy involved, such as which items to bring along for that next hunt, or how you'll approach that massive beast in the next map. There's a farm for gathering basic materials, with a lot of unlockable areas for better materials as you progress through the game. There's even an above-average element system, that really makes sense! Like, if you want to kill that Kut-Ku for a second time, but want to get it done faster, just look at its armor stats at the blacksmith! Oh look, it has low fire resistant armor, maybe you should bring a weapon infused with the fire element! Each creature has its own strengths and weaknesses, adding a LOT of variety.
Longevity & Replay Value: 10/10
Hmm... Another 10/10... Doesn't take much to figure out why; just look at the back of the box. WHAT?! OVER 270 QUESTS AND 70 MONSTERS?! And what they don't include is the weapons and armor! There are thousands of pieces of equipment to collect, it really never ends! There is just sooo much to do here! I have personally put over 200 hours into this title, and over 600 into the previous MHF, and I've hardly scratched the surface (not to mention that I didn't like it at first. Give it a chance, it grows on you). And if you can convince your friends to buy it, or if they already have it, that adds WAY more replay value. Which bring us to our next section...
Yet another beautiful feature of this game would have to be the multiplayer mode. The only thing keeping this from not getting a perfect score is the lack of WiFi support. There is only Ad-Hoc mode, meaning that your friends have to be right near you in person in order to hunt together (there IS a way to get online, but you can Google that if you want to know more). Anyways, if you can make that happen, you're in for a real treat!
To access it, you simply go into the Online Gathering Hall, get your friends with you to do the same (while making sure you're on the same channel), and you can get hunting straight away! That's right, you can access multiplayer from the very beginning of the game, and all you have to do is enter a building.
Multiplayer is pretty much the same as going solo, except you can have up to 3 friends to assist you. This is without a doubt one of the most satisfying experiences in gaming history. You think you'll get a thrill from defeating a wyvern the size of a five-story building? Try defeating a wyvern the size of a five-story building with a group of friends. Believe me when I say this, it's awesome.
There are a few minor differences, such as the monsters get a bit stronger when you're fighting with friends, but that's logical, otherwise it would become too easy.
All in all, you should try to get at least one friend to get this game if you're planning on buying it. Show him/her this review, it might help!
When all is said and done, this is the best game on PSP, and possibly the best action-RPG on ANY system. From your first Congalala, right up to that intimidating Akantor, you will keep coming back for more. And more. And more.
All I ask is that, before you throw the game away in frustration after the first tutorial and write a scathing review because it "seems too hard", you remember that the people who appreciate this game, are the ones who stuck to it. It doesn't actually take too long to get into it, so give it a chance and you will enjoy it.
All that being said, happy hunting!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/13/08
Game Release: Monster Hunter Freedom 2 (US, 08/28/07)
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