Monster hunting on the PlayStation Portable certainly seems like a formula for success. Gods Eater Burst is the sequel to Namco Bandai's chart-topping God Eater, in which you play as a new member of the God Eaters, an organization that is dedicated to building a weapon called the God Arc to destroy the monsters that have taken over Earth. While you may find several similarities between the God Eater games and Monster Hunter, Gods Eater Burst sets itself apart from other monster-hunting games by emphasizing the story and bullet customization.
In our quick look at the game, the general setup is familiar if you're already a pro at monster hunting. You play as a customizable main character and go on missions to destroy monsters and collect materials for research. Earth is overrun with creatures known as the Aragami, and you and up to three other players can band together and take on these enormous beasts. Even if you don't have friends to play with you over ad hoc, the game provides you with party members so you can build your own group of four if you like. Depending on your play style, you can round out your team by choosing from a group of medics, snipers, scouts, or assault characters. They each have unique abilities that will help you along.
Your equipment is upgradable and customizable, but what sets Gods Eater Burst apart from other games is that you have the ability to create your own bullets. Using chips as the currency, you can change a regular bullet to have special effects, such as explode on impact or shotgun effect. You can continuously add more features to a bullet, but the more you add, the longer it will take to charge and use when you're in battle. Combat is relatively straightforward: you use the face button to attack, jump, and dodge on the battlefield. Burst mode is similar to an overdrive mode, where your stats are enhanced temporarily as long as your gauge is full. Your abilities get a nice boost too because burst mode lets you dash farther and perform double jumps. The left shoulder button centers your camera, and it can also be held to lock on to your enemy and keep it in view. Other than being able to customize bullets and use your gun at long range, you lug around a giant sword that's partially alive. It's interesting, because in order to collect materials for research, you have to use a devour attack, which transforms your weapon into a massive chomping maw that eats away at the creature you just slaughtered. It's a little unsettling, but it looks like you don't have to get your hands dirty by skinning the beast as an alternative.
All the cutscenes in the game are animated using in-game models, and it's all fully voiced. Even though the basic setup of the story is rather typical, it goes deeper--we were told that there is some conspiracy going on within the God Eaters organization. The game does have an anime style to it, and overall it feels like the pace of the game is faster when you compare it to Capcom's Monster Hunter series. Even though your characters are dragging around these oversized hybrid weapons, you can chain a few melee attacks pretty quickly and effortlessly. Monsters aren't even that difficult to track down, so you shouldn't be spending a ton of time trying to figure out where they are hiding, which should speed up the pace of the mission.
If you're looking for some other monster-hunting options, keep an eye out for Gods Eater Burst when it's released sometime in March.