Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Aaron’s Reviews: Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

Let’s get this out of the way first; I am a huge monster hunter fan. I’ve been playing since the first PSP incarnation, but I’m not exactly a veteran as there was a ps2 version before I got into it. But I’ve been into it for a while and it accordance with my reviewing games that our other hosts have yet to review policy I will review “Monster Hunter Freedom Unite”.

Monster Hunter has a long history, and I will touch on it briefly. When monster hunter was released for the Playstation 2, it became a huge hit in Japan. America also got its own version, but it didn’t catch on in the same way. Capcom, the company that put the game out although concerned with the American market put a majority of the backing into the Japanese market considering the success. So while America still would get the occasional upgraded version, the Japanese would get double the content. This was the case with monster hunter freedom 1 for the PSP. In America this was all we had until MHF2, but in Japan they released Monster Hunter Freedom G, which featured new monsters and missions. There were also some PC versions that came out. After MHF2, Capcom decided that the time had come to try to boost interest in the American market. So they decided to start bringing the harder “G” expansions to the U.S. and begin a marketing campaign in the U.S. Thus the expansion to 2, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite made it to American shores, and the commercials began. This review will sort of encompass all the incarnations of MH or at least at the start since I’ve never reviewed the series before. So let’s get to the game itself shall we?

In the game you start out as a new to the scene hunter in some small town. You begin your training with the first level missions which are mostly gathering quests to teach you the ins and outs of the game. Here you learn how to cook meat to increase you stamina, and how to combine items to make healing drinks and different battle aides. When you’ve built yourself a basic weapon/armor set and have learned how to manage health and trap items you are finally introduced to the hunting aspect, after all the game is named “monster hunter” for a reason. This is where my favorite feature of the game comes into play, which made me a fan since the start. The major monster battles are in real time, this isn’t turn based at all and you need to keep on your toes to not die. It not only adds to the realism of the game and the hunting aspect, but it adds a level of perfection to strive for. If you get really good you may never get hit, or you could get horribly maimed. Each monster you come to face is unique, and range from dragons to giant crabs, to things as bizarre as monkey’s that throw their own feces at you…yes I’m serious. As you work your way up the mission ranks the parts you’ve collected from other beasts allows you to craft better armor and weapons. You’ll also learn as you defeat monsters and look up the armor sets made available what elements certain beasts are more weakened too than others, and begin working on elemental attributed weapons.

As you rank up you’ll also unlock missions at the “training school”, which will teach you better tactics to use on each monster as well as how to use each of the six weapon types on each monster. Then again there are really two weapon classes to worry about, each requiring a different armor set. The Blade masters can use Great Swords ( a giant sword), sword and shields, Hammers ( a giant hammer), and hunting horn ( similar to hammer but can grant status effects), and can wear heavier, more defensive armor. Gunners use Guns and Bows, and must wear lighter weaker armor sets which allow for easier movement. But I digress, after clearing out the required quests for a level; an Urgent Quest appears that upon completion allows the player to move up to the next level bracket. When you become a strong enough hunter, you get access to elder dragon quests which feature super strong dragons of the games lore. One of my personal favorites is the Lao Shin Lung, a dragon the size of a mountain whose name literally translates to the same thing. But if you still don’t find these monsters challenging enough, there are the guild hall quests boasting even stronger beasts and mission combinations. The guild hall quests are the quests available to play with friends and this is where the game really shines.

However if you are a social outcast…or just don’t have any friends who have monster hunter, (considering its sales in America) even these missions can be accomplished by yourself, but the fun is really working with friends and coming up with effective strategies to down the stronger beasts more quickly. So what else is there? Well this is where the G expansion changes things up a bit. If you had MHF2, MHFU will load in your previous character and his accomplishments into the new game so you can continue where you left off. For the friendless, this expansion allows you to have “cat” assistants that help you in offline fights; it also adds harder mission levels to the guild hall and offline missions as well as new items and a few new monsters. MHF2’s flagship monster was the Tigerex, a primitive crawling dragon that lived in the mountains and in my opinion was a bastard. Unite’s flagship Monster is the Nargacuga (monster in my image up top) which is a subspecies of Tigerex that looks like a giant bat…he is also a bastard. Other new monsters include the Hypnocatrice (a turkey-like dragon), and my favorite of the additions the Yamatsukami (basically cthulu). But the most important addition is the “G” difficulty missions in the guild hall. Some of these missions are so hard you can’t do them without the help of a friend. It’s not that you’re not strong enough, but mostly each mission is timed and you usually find yourself out for time just before the monster is even on the ropes.

There are also “epic hunting quests” which are my personal favorite additions to the game in which you fight multiple different monsters in one play through receiving only health items when you kill one to continue fighting. All and all I’d say they took an already great game and made it even better. However just because I’m a fan doesn’t mean I should pad this game for you out there who haven’t played it before. I’ll say this, it’s a remarkably hard game to get started in, and you really have to work hard to get up to the point where you have decent enough weapons and armor to handle most beasts. Also, some of the game is almost unplayable if you don’ have friends to play it with, and because of the need to play in the same room with you PSP’s instead of playing via the internet those without friends can’t even arrange to play with random players online. If you want to play multiplayer you have to know other people with the game and be able to hang out often to play it. However, even with these downsides I will still highly recommend it, and rally those who play to convert as many non players as possible. This game is fun, time consuming, and feeds that underlying wish that most nerds have to go slay dragons. So get out the AND BUY MONSTER HUNTER FREEDOM UNITE, ITS AMAZING! DO IT! DO IT NOW!...Ahem….erm…thank you, we now return to you regularly scheduled blogs…

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