Monster Hunter Freedom 2
Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is the follow up to Capcom's quite successful Monster Hunter Freedom and takes the same premise as its predecessor - you hunt monsters through quests for which you are rewarded with crafts and new weapons. All this happens from your base - which you return to for R and R between missions and that is it. Slaying monsters is the name of the game. Literally!
The game begins with you choosing your character - Well, you choose the sex, hair colour and battle cry. The story begins with your monster hunter has a bit of a scuffle with a dragon on the side of the mountain which he loses and is thrown down the side of a mountain by the dragon. This odd beginning does have a point, the point being that falls will never do you any damage in Monster Hunter Freedom 2. At the bottom of the mountain you are saved, nursed back to help by the local villagers who are so kind they even give you your own house. Inside the house is a chest a closet and a bookshelf which will be used for storing all your collected bounty. So the game begins with you leaving your pad and heading into the village to talk to some of the locals.
The villagers all tell you to get down to the hunter training academy where you can cut your teeth and learn the skills of the trade. The Hunting academy works in the same way as the main game you complete mini quests to gain cash and learn tricks along the way.
Once training is over you are ready to get hunting for real. The quests are broken down by level of difficulty once you have cracked enough quests at one level of difficulty the next level will become available. There are three quest types gathering, hunting and slaying. The gathering type consists of collecting mushrooms, herbs, hides etc. The hunting type consists of hunting down a certain monster and kicking its butt, usually the biggest monster around the set area. The slaying quests are more a case of wipe out one certain, usually smaller, set of creatures.
Hunting monsters would be great fun if the fighting system wasn't as floored as it is. There are some serious camera issues here as you control the camera with the D-Pad which means you can't move and switch camera angle at the same time, quite annoying. Also some of these monsters are a bit too tough - you will find yourself hacking away at these guys for long periods of time, which, if the fighting style was better could be fun but as it is so clumpy it can be a bit of a pain. You are also forced to employ the most basic forms of attack, as being more creative only costs you more time. So one monsters weak point might be when you run behind him and whack him on his tail. This could be good but after 10 minutes of performing the same move - over and over - to win you simply get bored.
Contrary to my pre game thoughts the gathering quests are almost the most fulfilling. There is a massive list of items available to collect, or even grow on your little allotment. Mixing these items together can create some rather useful aids and the variety here is very impressive. This element really adds depth to the game. The slaying element of the game is fairly satisfying as the smaller critters don't take as much time to finish off.
I could write at least another paragraph about how annoying I think the fighting system is but I won't moan on about it. I will just say - when the core of a game is hunting/killing monsters it is a pre-requisite that the hunting/killing system isn't an absolute dog!
Graphically Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is very good. There is an immense amount of detailed land to explore which with the PSP's limitations in mind is very cool. The "stars of the show" the monsters are also great, some of them look like mutated animals we all know and others are just weird.
There is no online play (WTF!) but there is a nice little multi-player mode where you and three other mates can team up on the monsters. I must say that having some backup in the monster fighting takes a lot of the frustration out of it. Sound in the game is just kind of OK.
Overall Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is a fairly shabby sequel. If you are looking for a new RPG on your PSP you could give this a whirl but personally I think there are better titles out there.
6 out of 10
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