#872 Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

Posted: 23rd June 2013 by Jeroen in Games
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249th played so far

MonsterHunterGenre: Action/Role-Playing
Platform: PSP
Year of Release: 2008
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom

Well, doesn’t that sound interesting? Aside from sounding like a bit of a Pokémon rip-off, a game we’ll get to eventually that seems to have inspired many others, this also brings in another Japanese trope – vaguely appropriate sounding words (and some that are not some much) seemingly random thrown together to form what is a title that sounds more consistent than it really is.

I mean, monster hunter, sure. But freedom unite? No. It’s a weirdness that can be sound in anime series as well. The second season of long running series Gintama was named Gintama’ and the Sailor Moon franchise used seemingly random letters to differentiate between the different arcs. I mean what does the R in Sailor Moon R really mean?

Next to that, the Monster Hunter series is an action adventure RPG-ish series of games that is fairly big in Japan but never really made it over to the west. It’s the series of games that have been recognized as one of the main reasons behind the success of the PSP in Japan, which made the recent switch of allegiance to Nintendo all the more bitter. From the bits we did today, maybe that might be appropriate… but let’s see how it holds up to longer play.

Our Thoughts

Now here’s a disappointment. Expecting something a bit… friendlier, the game feels a bit bland and repetitive. Taking another step to Japanization and the worst of MMORPGs, the game is all about the fetch quests. All those annoying ‘Kill five of this creature’ and ‘Gather then purple carrot’ quests that so many (MMO)RPGs try to move away from? It’s this game’s raison d’être. Even the ‘cook a rare steak’ quest at the beginning met with a number of groans from our independent playthroughs.

That’s what it is. You’re a bounty hunter – the titular monster hunter, but you gather herbs as well so it’s more than just monster hunting – who is send out specifically to kill enemies and gathering items. It doesn’t even bother to disguise its quests as anything else than that, which makes it more galling. The game doesn’t even offer any real storyline beyond your job.

There’s a lot of tutorials to introduce you to it. Considering that a lot of it is quite repetitive, it doesn’t seem as necessary to have it and, in fact, I got bored enough with them halfway through that I left and went out to try on my own. The only real reason for doing it like that is muscle memory.

The game makes a weird control scheme choice, with the main action being bound to circle, x being some sort of semi-unnecessary duck/roll, and square being item use. This has, more than once, waste unnecessary items when I just meant to jump around and grab items.

While it tries to look impressive and be visually distinctive, the semi-realistic graphics aren’t realistic enough to be convincing, and the bland colours blend together on the PSP screen. A lot of this feels like it would work well on a big screen, but scaled down for the handheld it gets murkier. It feels rather wasteful and some bolder art choices would have worked. It probably doesn’t suit the series, but it’s that tone that didn’t work for me in the first place.

The game allows for online multiplayer. While I can see how this might be marginally more fun in a group, the basic structure of the game (unlike the recent Left 4 Dead) doesn’t convince me of its value. It mostly seems to be an excuse to raise the game’s difficulty level, not to actually make the game more interesting.

Final Thoughts

Many games are divisive. That is the nature of any entertainment medium. For the most part, however, when we don’t particularly like a game we can see the merit that lies within that points to why a series has a large fan base. For this we… aren’t so sure. It’s got great character customization but as a game it’s repetitive to the point of idiocy.