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PSP  header logo

Monster Hunter Freedom 2

For: PSP

Killing monsters and enjoyability, one quest at a time

Product: Monster Hunter Freedom 2 | Developer: Capcom | Publisher: Capcom | Format: PSP | Genre: Action, RPG | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: US
 
Monster Hunter Freedom 2 PSP, thumbnail 1
Freedom is a beautiful thing. It allows you to say whatever you want, create anything you please, and even steer clear of undesirable things. Thankfully so, because exercising your freedom has never felt so good as when passing on Monster Hunter Freedom 2.

While succeeding as a sequel to extend the flawed but enjoyable action role-playing of the first Monster Hunter Freedom game, it's entirely too similar to its predecessor. Without any notable differences to distinguish it from the original, then, finding a reason to play is rather difficult.

Action takes centre stage in Monster Hunter Freedom 2, which – surprise – revolves around monster-hunting quests. You serve as the protector of Pokke, a tiny mountainside village surrounded by dangerous creatures. As such, it's your duty to seek out quests, dispatch all manner of beasts, and ensure the town's safety. The premise is simple enough, but a plethora of quests, customizable weapons and armor, and optional mini-games instill an enormous amount of variety.

Quests are handed out at the Hunter's Guild in three veins: hunting, slaying, and gathering. Monster hunting quests provide an option of either capturing or killing your beastly objective, whereas slaying quests require that you dispatch the fiend in question. Gathering quests, on the other hand, task you with collecting specific items and returning them to the village. The game easily exceeds 30 hours of play with its 250-odd quests.

It's a shame that none of them prove exciting, though. Much of this has to do with the unimaginative set-up, although the clunky combat mechanics play a significant role in dragging down the experience.

Targeting, for instance, is non-existent and camera controls are painfully limited. Restricting your options over the camera to the L button as a means of centering the view behind your character is insufficient. Perhaps a targeting system enabling you to lock onto monsters would have solved this, but alas you often end up flailing at air since you can't effectively position the camera and your character simultaneously in order to hit an enemy.

All of the above issues were present in the previous Monster Hunter Freedom, which is what makes them even less acceptable here.

But that's not all this sequel shares with its predecessor. The dull combat system might have been overlooked had this incorporated Infrastructure gameplay. Instead of supporting online multiplayer, however, the game remains an local affair, with four players only able to connect for quests in ad-hoc mode. Sure, the promise of downloadable content might be fun down the line, but not including online gameplay only furthers the notion that Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is a by-the-numbers follow-up that does nothing to further this increasingly antiquated series.

Outfitting yourself for combat is sadly more enjoyable than striking out on the quests themselves. Ten different weapon types and five armor categories give you free range to customize your character's load out. Even better, weapons and armor can be augmented with decorations. These unique items fit into slots on any weapon or piece of armor and open up skills that enhance your character's attributes and abilities. Not a terribly inventive system, but it works fine.

Other distractions from the doldrums of battle include a set of farming mini-games and a kitchen. Fishing, which has oddly enough become a mini-game staple, and divining are good time wasters accessed from Pokke farm. Felyne kitchen, meanwhile, is slightly more entertaining, and sees you hiring cat chefs to prepare food with the aim of boosting your attributes. Both aren't new, though, making their way into Monster Hunter Freedom 2 as left-overs from the first game.

About the only thing that differentiates this sequel from the original is its presentation. No question about it, the game looks fantastic, with the visuals among the best yet on PSP. However, this comes with a hefty price: lengthy and far-too-frequent loading times.

The game does provide an option to run background loading to decrease the waiting time, but this drains the battery faster than a pack of video game journalists at an open bar. It's recommended that you use the AC adaptor when running background loading, but chaining you to a wall defeats the freedom of playing on a portable, now, doesn't it?

When it comes down to it, this is a massive, missed opportunity. It's hugely disappointing to find there's no good reason for players of Monster Hunter Freedom to invest time in Monster Hunter Freedom 2. It's a different matter if you're a newcomer to the series, of course, and if that's you, feel free to add a point – perhaps even two – to the score below.

However, if you're coming for the role-playing alone, beware – this has never been the franchise's strength. In those circumstances, we'd humbly suggest picking up any of a number of other action role-playing games with superior design. After all, remember you have freedom on your side.
 
Monster Hunter Freedom 2
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 13 September 2007
A by-the-numbers expansion of an underwhelming role-playing mechanic, Monster Hunter Freedom 2 unfortunately has little new and worthwhile to check out beyond an impressive visual presentation
 
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