a decent RPG for PSP at long last? yes, and so much more! ... but why do i feel it could have been better...
lovermanxxx wrote this review on .
if you are in a rush and want to get a quick feel for the game, this is essentially Phantasy Star Online but with dinosaurs and a fantasy feel. If you liked that game (PS2, Xbox, GC, DC, PC) then you will love this as it actually delivers a little more in terms of item creation and npc interaction. if you didnt like that game then this is not for you.
Monster Hunter Freedom (MHF) is a good romp in a fantasy world. you play the part of a monster hunter, who must work up through the ranks by completeing assorted tasks (collect herbs, kill dinosaurs, deliver items, etc) for a range of people.
first thing you need to do is create you character. options are pretty good - male/ female, skin tones, hair colour, etc.
there is a heck of a lot to do in this game - which is a lot of fun - but it means you need to invest some time at the beginning learning actions, item creation, carving up your kills, cooking food when you get hungry, etc. stick with the standard basic missions from the viallage chief and you should be rolling along after about an hour.
easy to control though you will often find yourself pressing the wrong buttong within your first hour or two of playing. an ingame menu sits over the top of the gamer so you can still play with the menu up - this works well. you can flick through 4-5 camera angles, rotate view and lots of other knacks - though somtimes the camera angle is enforced at a funny angle making it difficult to see in front.
when you encounter a monster you need to draw your weapon and you have 3 different attacks. the senstivity is a little lacking here as you will turn to hit a monster and just miss whereas it should have connected. overall though the combat system is basic but functional.
outside of the combat is where the game is a treat. attached to the main village is a farm where you can grow your own herbs for potions, mine ore for weapons, catch bugs with a big net, go fishing and much more. these are all in the form of minigames of basic interactions but actually add a whole level of depth to the game and are a fun distraction from the usual rpg formula of get mission here, go away and kill monster or collect items, come back for next mission.
a nice bonus is the online options to team up with a friend and battle through things in co-operative. though the monsters are easier than in single player which makes this very easy. other options are open to you online - including new items in the store. i was unable to trade items with others online. i dont know if you can or not but if not then this is a major oversight for online gaming.
these are great for the PSP. when you upgrade your weaponry and armour you see it reflected in the character onscreen. there is a good level of draw distance when you are out on a cliff but most levels tend to be sheltered.
the only downsides are the typeface is a bit crap looking and sometimes hard to read with an awkward font combined with drop shadow.
also, the fmv is affected by the blur that occurs on a lot of PSP video - you know the red shadowy look?
overall though a very pleasing experience and some of the best graphics on PSP to date - unless you zoom in with binoculars or in the equipment view.
this is actually pretty good and atmospheric. the environment sounds are good and the game has lots of typical rpg noises - like when you go to sleep, bedtime music plays.
the only disappointment is that i have recently been playing Syphon Filter Dark Mirror and that has excellent sound and loads of voice acting. the most voice acting you get in this game consists of a few grunts and moans - although you do get to chose the tone of your characters grunts upon creation. voice acting is rare for an RPG anyway but it would have been nice to get something more.
other points worth mentioning:
i love role playing games. one thing i always do is create multiple saves of the same character, so i can go back to earlier saves or cover myself when i choose a specfic action etc. in MHF you have to use the same save again. you have no option of saving to another block - creating a back up. this is a disappointing feature.
i really cannot emphasise how much this game is like Phantasy Star Online - with online lobbies, quest setting etc. the only thing is that you do not have a magic user - just close combat or ranged gun players.
in terms of other PSP games it is similar of Kingdom of Heaven (an action rpg), with more emphasis on item creation instead of scroll combinations.
loading times. they are long and way too frequent. each zone has a loading time. in the viallage you often need to go to the farm and to your house. passing into the village has a loading time, then one to get into the farm, then one to get out of the farm, then another to go to your house/ store box, then another to leave your house. so doing a simple bit of item colection and selling can involve 5 or more load sequences. it is also irritating in the game when you pass between areas, moving from one field to the next. the areas are not actually that big and yet sometimes you are sitting for several seconds whilst the area loads. it might not sound like much but imagine that you need to reach zone 12 on the map... then you need to get back again! that is about 24 load screens!
overall, i have been playing the game every day since i got it last week and i reckon i will be playing it for several weeks yet. as an rpg fan it has made me very happy and there is a lot for me to do and customise. the only sad thing is that with a few minor changes this could have been an amazing game, instead it is just another good PSP game. they have followed a typical rpg formula and if you have the other monster hunter games, do you want to play through exactly the same thing on portable?
i can see this as a 30hr game, if you are willing to do everything in it. some people will get a little bored though, especially without using the online.