Review by blueninja4444

Reviewed: 02/22/08

There's A Monster That Needs Slaying, and A Sword Here With Your Name On It!

Ok, bud, here’s the deal.... You’ve found yourself humbly accepted in the extremely small town of Pokke, which is thrives on local hunting, farming and fishing. The exciting news is that the whole town has been waiting for you to be their hunter and savior. The bad news? This kind of requires you to kill larger than life beasts, that won’t hesitate to kill you back. Sure you can fish all you want, but you won’t be a hero until you slay a giant dragon or raptor or two. The game is a sequel to wildly popular and best selling Monster Hunter, and it does nothing but improve on it’s predecessor. As of the time of this writing this game is the best selling PSP title of all time in Japan, and possibly, could be heading that route in America too. Wanna know more? Think you’re up to the task of being a hunter in Monster Hunter Freedom 2 from Capcom? Well read some more and find out....

Graphics: 10/10
Ok, before you even press the “Start” button to begin your game you’ll probably be impressed with the opening video. And once you start the game you’ll be even more impressed with the character creation, while not too in-depth, does offer you the chance to create a medieval times version of yourself, so that you will have a chance to explore the very, very beautifully designed levels of the game which consists of various landscapes such as snow covered mountains, icy caves, blazing hot desert days, surprising cool desert nights, exotic jungles and much more. And after your virtual character explores those beautiful landscapes, you’ll find yourself coming face to face with some very nicely designed creatures all of which are ripe for the hunting. All “monsters” in this game look great from pesky giant bees, to mountain goats, to giant mastodons, to dinosaur like creatures and much, much more things that only your imagination can conceive. The graphics are so impressive that the back of the box indeed advertises it.

The game’s attempt of being one the most impressive PSP games visually doesn’t stop with the awesomely rendered graphics and back grounds. This game attempts to do much more, and really capitalizes on the little things. Such as when you go to your inventory box and change your weapon your character will literally lug that weapon around everywhere, even in the local town when not fighting. Also changing your armor does affect your appearance, which is a very nice addition. Some of the greatest games in the world like Final Fantasy X, didn’t even bother to include this. Let’s not forget to mention that every weapon and every piece of armor includes a whole lot of detail so you won’t be disappointed. If you decide to play multiplayer online or with a bud you can take confidence in knowing that you and your buddies will not look identical to one another. Trust me, you look real awesome walking up to a giant nemesis with your snow armor on to protect you from the cold, and the sword on your back.

And for that matter all the animations look great, from you swinging your hammer, to your personal chef cooking your raw meat for you, to an enemy monster swinging his tail at you it’s all done so beautifully. So is Monster Hunter Freedom 2 the most visually impressive game on the PSP yet? I think so, and I know you’ll think so... A perfect 10 out of 10!

Sound: 9/10
Sometimes PSP games have to take into account that not all PSP owners sit at home and play the PSP like it’s a PlayStation 3 home system or something. This game is perfect in that aspect, because the sound is all well done but completely optional. If you want to do some hunting on your lunch break at work or school but don’t the sound of monster shrieking to bother those around you, you can turn the volume off and enjoy it completely. But if you’re at home and feel like shoving an arrow down some poor goat’s throat, then by all means you can keep the volume up and hear everything, including the impressive background music.

The sound isn’t anything extremely impressive, but on the other hand it does come in handy for some missions like hearing a particular monster’s growl or a particularly giant monster’s foot steps coming at you. For the most part the music is calm, to go with the beautiful scenery, but when a big bad freak of nature shows up to bite you in half the music turns into dramatic fight to the death drums and the such. There is no voice acting, but you probably expected that, since there’s a lot of talking that could be done in this game. Sound isn’t perfect but it’ll impress you nonetheless.

Controls: 8/10
PSP, do your thing! Ok the controls are solid, and as a nice touch to make the game feel more unique, for each different weapon you have the controls will vary when it comes to using that weapon in the heat of hunting. In all there’s 11 weapon classes to chose from in the game, and the control scheme makes you that much more likely to want to specialize in a weapon or two or three, then go around switching your weapon every mission or two. Though this can be seen as good, it might also be bad for the more average gamer or a gamer who is too busy to devote a lot of time to a huge game like this and wonders why the rifle reloads bullets by pressing triangle but the crossbow reloads by holding in the R button and pressing circle.

One thing that really bugs me, and could take some getting used to on your end as well is that the button to draw out your weapon in a battle is not the same button you use to put it away. Triangle takes out your weapon and square puts it away. This can be confusing, and as such accidentally pressing the wrong button to take out your weapon could have your character accidentally whip out a well-done freshly cooked steak and start munching on it, when an enemy is clearly charging you.

The odd control scheme may be one of the only blemishes on this other wise near-perfect game.

Story: 6/10
So you’re a big bad hunter on your way to a small town to lend a helping hand. Everyone’s counting on you to be the hero, but all of a sudden some dragon like monster comes by and swoops down and kicks the crap out of you, knocking you off the side of a mountain into a snowy grave below. Luckily you are found and brought to Pokke where the friendly little village wishes you luck, nurses you back to health, and readies training, solo quests, and multi-hunter quests for you. The mayor-like woman of the village, from here on out, obtains quests from various townsfolk and passes on the information to you. The quests include little descriptions, which is about all you get for a story aside from the background basics. You’re a hunter, and you’re doing whatever you can to hunt and make your small town happy. That is the story, I don’t think you would’ve expected much more, but if you did, than you better stick with Final Fantasy. But honestly, hiring talking cats to cook your raw meat for you, that’s a story worth a million dollars.

Gameplay: 10/10
You want an addicting game in the palm of your hands? Look no further than Monster Hunter Freedom 2 on the PSP. It’s kind of hard to tell where to begin with this game, because the game play is much, much more than the title implies. No, the game isn’t “find the dinosaur, kill him with your sword, get your money, then kill the next dinosaur, and repeat the process” the game is much, much more in depth.

For starters, it’s not all about hunting down big bad enemies. It reminds me of Metal Gear Solid, it’s very realistic but no so realistic that it ruins the game. You can help your town and yourself in other ways too, such as growing starting a small farm and harvesting food. You can also go fishing in a simple mini-game to catch diner for tonight. And heck, not every monster in this game is a giant creature waiting to have you for dinner, there are also innocent mammoth-like creatures that won’t really attack you unless necessary, but dang it, you just wanna kill them because that tongue of theirs can be sold for a heck of a lot of money. And if that’s not enough variety some missions don’t even require slaying a single soul, but rather has you explore the regions in search of rare items such as rare mushrooms that only grow at the peak of the mountain, or rare fish that only live in the scarce water of the scorching desert. This variety constantly keeps the game fresh, you never know what the next mission will require of you.

But when it does come down to it, the core of this game, the meat and potatoes is you will, is about slaying those big bad monsters and putting your skills to the test. Luckily you won’t have to choke a dragon with your bare hands you’ll have 11 different classes of weapons to chose from, each with it’s own unique advantages and disadvantages. Your weapons to chose from are sword & shield combo, long katana-like sword, huge and heavy sword, massive war hammer, dual wave blades, a rifle, a cross bow, a cross bow with a bayonet, a musical horn that can also be used to smash, a lance, and a bigger heavier cross bow.

But wait, the game gets even more in-depth than that, if depth is your thing than this game is a gold mine. Along your quest the temperatures can get brutal requiring you to wear warmer clothes or drink ice cold drinks. You can take pick axes, bug nets and fishing poles as well as bombs, traps and fully cooked meals along on the mission. There isn’t a traditional level system but using items you’ve salvaged from fallen monsters allows you to upgrade your weapons and armor. If game play truly is the meat and potatoes of any game then you must have some really talented talking cats cooking your Monster Hunter Freedom 2 meal for you, because this comes with the meal, some dessert and then some.

Longevity and Replay Value: 10/10
Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is all about squeezing as much fun and playability out of a single UMD as possible. In one save block you can have up to three characters, which is useful if you want to create another character with a different strategy of want to show the game off to a friend or two to convince him to get his own copy of this game so you all can play the multiplayer and take various quests working as a unit. Speaking of co-op, yes, co-op does have it’s own special set of quests you can undertake which usually have more emphasis on team work, or tougher baddies so that you and your buddies gotta really plan what you want to do. How about a quest where your mission is to capture the extremely rare eggs of a wyvern but it’s so delicate and quite large that all you can do is transport it. That’s right, the game takes away everything from you no setting that egg down, no fighting, no climbing, no jumping, no short cuts... You better hope your buddy has the skills needed to prevent the angry mommy from breaking the egg or breaking your face.

To top it off, there are five sets of quests you can chose from, each one can only be unlocked after completing the previous set, and among those five sets are many, many individual quests you can embark on, probably close to 100. And to make the replayability even more so, the option to partake in a completed quest is always available even if it seems like a one shot deal. “There’s a giant monster on the mountain, slay him and get your $1000 prize!” well, you could, if you wanted, just keep taking that quest no matter how many times you slay this so called monster.

With so many weapons to chose from, so many armor types you can wear, so many wyverns that need a good hunting, so many cats to cook your diner for you, so many little things to do, so many big things to get rewards from, so many quests to complete and so many multiplayer missions for you and your buddies it’s no surprise that you could, if you like this style of game, get endless hours of play time from this game. When you save your game progress the save file tells you how much time you’ve spent playing the game as that particular character. That number can go up to three digits, I.E. more than 100 hours, and there’s many Monster Hunter fans out there who proudly clock in with a couple hundred hours of adrenaline pumping monster hunting. Will you be one of them?

Overall: 10
All in all Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is one of the greatest games ever made for the PlayStation Portable system, and as time goes on the game will always be remembered as the game that showed us exactly what the PSP was capable of. Amazing graphics, creative game play and endless replayability all add up to the reason Monster Hunter Freedom 2 and it’s predecessor were such a success. Monster Hunter is not a game you rent, Monster Hunter is a game you buy for yourself and then pick up a copy for your friend for his birthday and then a copy for your little brother because you’ll probably enjoy the game so much, sharing it’s unique style and PSP’s power is inevitable, and let’s face it, some monsters just can’t be killed one on one. So what do ya think, hunter? There’s a dragon in the mountains that needs a good killing, and Monster Hunter has got a sword here with your name on it..... A perfect 10 out of 10!

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Monster Hunter Freedom 2 (US, 08/28/07)

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