Monster Hunter: Freedom PSP Review

The PS2 version of Monster Hunter was a solid title, which if not for some big downfalls could have been an amazing game. Monster Hunter: Freedom is a remixed version of said game so of course has some welcome improvements, unfortunately not where it really matters though.

For those that don’t know, Monster Hunter is just as the name implies, a game about Monster Hunting, with some item hunting thrown into the mix to keep things fresh. One of the main hooks of the game – and strangely even more pleasurable than bashing monster skulls in – is the business of crafting better weapons and armour, which is done so by carving skins, horns and other bits and pieces from the carcasses of defeated monsters.

Monster Hunter was an online focussed game, so the omission of network play in Monster Hunter: Freedom is questionable and a sorely missed addition. Whilst it does have a full blown single player mode, the title still has a strong focus on multiplayer, via Ad-hoc, but this type of play isn’t ideal for everyone, this writer included. But those, who have all the requisites, should get much enjoyment from teaming up with their siblings or friends and taking down some truly gargantuan monsters.

Like Monster Hunter, if you’re on your lonesome, the game can be just as hard as some of the skins of the monsters you’ll be tackling. It gets tough too soon, regularly feeling as if something is missing, and this perhaps more than anything displays its strong focus on multiplayer. Unless you can tolerate the constant deaths and lack of any real narrative, Solo players are advised to hunt monsters elsewhere.

The quests were evidently tailored with team play in mind, no more so than in quests in which you have to do such things as steal giants eggs from the habitats of prodigious beasts and where cover from team-mates is of the utmost importance. It just doesn’t function well as a single player game and we’d have perhaps preferred a separate mode, created exclusively for the needs of solo players.

Another problem retained from Monster Hunter is the fact that you’re only able to carry a limited amount of items, which may not sound too bad in itself, but since the game expects you whilst you’re out hunting to combine items to create new ones as well as fashioning new weapons and armour once you’re in town, it simply isn’t good enough, cue much traipsing backwards and forwards to your item storage box to get all the required items.

Combat was formally initiated on the PS2 version by flicking the right analogue stick in various directions, and is done so with the face buttons for this PSP version. This -whilst not exactly executed to a satisfactory degree- actually works better than its big brothers often clumsy combat.

New additions are thankfully successful, not bringing more problems to a series that frankly could do without any more. You’re now able to farm, and in the process create such things as healing herbs and eventually you can even get cats (of all things) to cook up status improving food. There’s some new weapons and stylish armour sets on offer too.

The graphics are noteworthy, simply because they’re so outstanding and easily match the PS2 iteration in terms of overall beauty. The monsters look just as fearsome, the vistas look just as gorgeous and the armour, well that just looks amazingly cool. Sadly all of this is at the cost of lengthy loading times, which you simply wouldn‘t expect to be present on a handheld system. But even so, Monster Hunter: Freedom is still one of the most visually appealing games on Sony’s mini powerhouse.

Unless you’re a diehard monster hunter or are desperate to play the game on the move, Monster Hunter: Freedom is hard to recommend to those of you who already have the PS2 version. The new additions – whilst pleasant enough – hardly make it worth purchasing for what is essentially the same game. Series initiates are probably better off with the PS2 version too, particularly if you have the means to take your PS2 into the online hunting ground.