Friday, 26 June 2009

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite - PSP

In Japan, the release of a new Monster Hunter game is greeted by mass hysteria, with some restaurants even serving up Monster Hunter-themed meals. Millions of copies have been sold in the land of the Rising Sun, but it's a series which has never really taken off in the West.

Some blame the control system, some don't like the cumbersome weapons, while others are put off by the insane level of customisation and depth at the player's disposal.

So it's great to see developer Capcom throw their weight behind this third PSP game in the series, in a move which is sure to entice more gamers into the gaping jaws of this gem of a game.

Unlike traditional RPGs, there is no overarching story to Monster Hunter. Instead, the player takes on a series of quests to slay wild creatures, using their remains to craft elaborate and effective armour and weapons. This kill, gather and create element is at the core of what makes the game special.

There are thousands of items to craft, and the promise of acquiring a shining new piece of armour or a magnificent-looking Greatsword really spurs the player on.

Monster Hunter has always been known for its hardcore credentials, and getting the most out of the game requires dedication, preparation, patience and skill.

Choosing the right weapon is fundamental to your chances of success, and there are many to choose from. From hefty Greatswords and massive Gunlances, to stout axes and nimble bows, each weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses and each takes time to master.

Even when you feel comfortable with your weapon choice, simply wading into battle desperately pressing attack buttons will get you killed quickly. Instead, the player must plan ahead and take useful items with them on their travels.

Whetstones sharpen your weapon, a well-cooked meal boosts your stamina, hot and cold drinks keep your body temperature constant and traps and bombs are used to hinder your enemies.

Taking these beautifully rendered monsters down requires skill and cunning. There's no lock-on mode - something which has irked some in the past - but chastising the game for this would be missing the point entirely.

Monster Hunter is a game of skill, with the player having to study each creature's attack pattern before combat takes place. A lock-on option would only serve to dilute the experience.

Monster Hunter isn't limited to fighting either. The player can mine precious ore, go fishing, plant seeds, cook, forage and catch bugs. These raw materials can then either be fused to create items such as potions, traps and fishing lures or blended with items taken from downed monsters to create bigger and better weapons and armour.

Taking on quests is made considerably easier when there are a few of you playing together. However, while the game caters for multiplayer, it's limited to Ad-Hoc multiplayer, not full online play. It's a glaring omission from Capcom, especially when you consider this is the third game to appear on PSP and online play still hasn't been implemented.

As if to appease single players, Capcom have added a recruitable Felyne companion to accompany you out on the field. These helpful cats can be trained in combat, while others can also be recruited to your kitchen, where they will cook up hearty meals.

Visually, Unite is spectacular. The attention to detail makes the beautiful settings come to life, while some of the monsters are simply jaw-dropping.

The learning curve in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite can be brutal and frustration creeps in as another seemingly impossible monster wipes you out for the sixth time of asking. However, persevere, and you will succeed, which brings with it the most wonderful feeling of satisfaction and elation you'll ever encounter in a videogame.

With thousands of cracking looking items waiting to be discovered, visuals to die for and hundreds of hours playtime, Unite is one of the finest and most addictive games on the PSP.

I have had a promo copy for the last three weeks, and already I am 50+ hours in. So whether you are an Monster Hunter veteran, or a rookie hunter, Unite is an essential purchase.


Danny said...

The lack of knowing ppl within easy traveling distance does put me off the game, as playing together with mates is why this is such a massive game in japan imo.
Then again making the effort to meet up with willing ppl to play together is something us Westerners could learn from the Japanese.
Anyways, nice review and does get me wondering that to just try the game would'nt hurt :)

blogelous said...

I've NEVER played a Monster Hunter game before on any platform but so far I'm enjoying the PSP version.

It reminds me of Phantasy Star on Dreamcast.

wow gold said...

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Alexander Cruz
Yes that is a nice idea but have you ever thought of going up to the biggest guy on the subway and telling him your thoughts on this. I wonder what he might do, or would you even do it.
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william said...

Monster Hunter is an exquisite game...i believe this review is nice and on to the point..the game is far enjoyable co-operatively and all those beautiful armour you can get..makes you wanna hunt for more armour..and just the fun of it alone...Give it time and the world of monster hunter will be exciting..10/10 the thrill of each hunt is just so addicting!!

william said...

I hope other ppl will agree with me..because i have a fine collection of G-Ranked Z series armour..also some fine sets of S series armor...and all the weapons and classes are so damn fun..variety of strategies against each monster..depending on weapon class, monster, and other hunters... (Players)

Monster Hunter said...

Its totally worth putting in the time with this monster hunter, it more than grows on you. Best in series for me.