Review by dancer62

"The more I play other games, the more impressed I am with MHFU"

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite: The sixth game in the series, the fourth released in the United States, and the gold standard in monster battle games, it's a hunter-gatherer simulation sandbox game that's simple to get into but maintains interest with absolutely fractal complexity.

Where to start? From the basic idea of mission-based real-time tactical melee combat against a variety of beasts, expanded with bucolic gathering, fishing, and farming, training feline cooks and hunting companions, deer hunting, slaughtering herbivores for meat, collecting materials to upgrade weapons and armor, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, while approachable and simple in concept, quickly assumes a level of complexity ensuring that players can be entertained for hundreds of hours.

The basics, start from a rustic village mission hub, hunt monsters and bring home parts for sale, or meat, or for crafting weapons. Or you could gather berries, plants, and mushrooms. Or mine ores. Or plant seeds to grow herbs. Or go fishing. Or catch insects. Everything you gather has a use.

Engage in kitchen chemistry, making your own potions, medicines, gunpowder, explosives, traps, etc., from plants, herbs, berries, mushrooms, and insects grown on your farm or found in the field. Cook meat over a BBQ spit in the field. Catch some fish for food, profit, and materials. (Did you know that some fish apparently concentrate nitrocellulose? Add scatterfish to your bombs for increased boom!)

Try mixing and matching armor pieces and armor jewel enhancements to produce effects useful for particular missions. Want wind resistance for fighting a wind dragon? Heat resistance for fighting a fire dragon? Enhanced weapon sharpness for piercing the hide of a tunneling rock monster? Poison resistance? Stun resistance? Increased evasive capabilities? It's all a trade-off between what armor pieces you can make, with materials available with each new territory opened and each new monster found. Costume yourself as a horned demon, or a samurai, or a scaly reptile, or an avatar of Death.

Crafting weapons is a game in itself, with different levels of elemental power or status effect power, basic attack power, sharpness, and skill benefits. Which is best for a particular monster, a high basic attack, or a moderate basic attack plus a moderate elemental attack to that monster's weakness? Or poison? Or paralysis? or sleep? Fast or slow weapons? Is stun effect important? High damage vs. mobility, vs. defensive capability? Melee or ranged?

For armor and weapons, you'll find yourself poring over tables, making lists, and then making more trips into the field to find particular ingredients you need for a particular effect.

And train your cooks to make gourmet meals that increase (or decrease!) your statistics. And train your feline hunting companions to increase their effectiveness. Upgrade your farm with more fields for planting, mushroom boxes, mining sites, fishing piers, insect thickets.

Accept quests from the Village Elders, or from the Hunter's Guild. Or go on training missions at the Training Hall. Or go on treasure hunts. Or finance a feline explorer's expeditions to gather materials for you. Steal monster eggs. Harvest parasites that suck life from you while you carry them to the delivery box. Earn money by raising a flag on the highest mountain.

And battles, oh, battles! Dinosaurs. Velociraptors. Land sharks. Lava Monsters. Dragons. Crabs the size of office buildings. Mythological creatures. Blind acid-dripping electric cave monsters. Great apes. Snow lions. Sand-burrowing one and two-horned rhinocerine behemoths. All with different attacks, and weaknesses, and speeds, and capabilities. Learn their attack patterns, know when to strike, when to dodge, and when to Get Out Of Dodge.

The environments! Lush river bluffs, tropical islands, snowswept mountains, volcanic wastelands, sweeping desert expanses, all with breathtaking landscapes and beautiful skies. Climb sheer cliffs, wade along sandbars, delve into grottos and caves, push through jungles. The environments change from day to night, the sweltering deserts become bitterly cold, noxious vapors rise from the swamplands, aurorae glitter over the windswept mountains. Exploring is a delight, the vistas never become old. And each landscape is riddled with caves, narrow passes, cliffs, ledges, bluffs, that can work for or against you in a monster fight.

Video clips set the stage for village life, each environment, and each major monster encounter, and can be viewed in the video gallery. Monster detail and animation is amazing, you could be watching a nature film. Creatures all have their own habits and quirks. The graphics are outstanding, with vivid colors and textures.

The animated antics of your cooks and hunting partners are enjoyable. Particularly if you are a martial artist, watching your Felynes do weapon and empty hand katas is hilarious!

There is no story as such, but humans, Felynes, and Wyvernians live together in villages, with Melynx and Shakalaka encountered in the field. The Wyvernians have a long history, with legends of powerful ancestors, one of whom wielded the sword of the Sword Cave.

So, what do we have altogether? Beautiful graphics, lush lands to explore, impressive and sometimes scary monsters, a host of subgames in gathering, farming, fishing, and crafting. A huge array of missions, available through the Guild, the Village Elders, and the Training Hall; as well as treasure hunts. A variety of weapon types with different tactics to learn. Weapon characteristics to consider including sharpness, affinity, status effects, elemental type, and attack power. Armor skills to be suited to particular missions. The video gallery. An open-ended game that you never complete, that always maintains interest. Other monster hunting games are appealing and capture some elements of the Monster Hunter world, but in its amazing complexity and challenge, Monster Hunter stands alone.

Pro: A complex living world to explore
open ended with continuing challenges
absorbing subgames

Con: sometimes hinky hitboxes
some awesome difficulty spikes

Rating: 9/10 Almost perfect!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/04/11

Game Release: Monster Hunter Freedom Unite (US, 06/22/09)

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