Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is finally here after a long wait. For newcomers, MHFU is an expansion to Monster Hunter Freedom 2(from now on I’ll use acronyms). If you don’t know already, MH is huge in Japan, America not so much. In Monster Hunter you take the role of a hunter who’s on a quest to hunt monsters. In the opening video you get decimated by one of your foes called the Tigrex and you decide to take out your anger on every monster. There’s no story to go through. Just you, your weapon, and a monsters’ face in which to plant your weapon into. The point of the game is to take quests to kill monsters, loot from their body, make new weapons/armor, and use those new items to kill more monsters in which to make more stuff to kill more stuff with. Sound boring? Well it’s not.
Monster Hunter is notorious for being merciless to it’s players with it’s insane difficulty. It’s not the kind of game where you level up or get better equipment. The point is to watch your enemy’s movements and learn them so as to not get hit. This is the reason why many gamers are pushed away from the game. Many people complain on how the game needs a lock-on system or a health bar to view how much damage has been done to a monster, but I won’t complain about that since the monsters actually show physical damage of their condition by cutting off their tails, horns, talons, and making them limp. A lock-on system would be helpful in the PSP’s case since the camera is complete garbage, but then again it would make aiming for specific body parts a pain and possibly impossible.
A few of the problems with Freedom 2 still persist in this game. If you think you’re intimidated by the Tigrex then wait till you get your hands on the camera. Many hardcore MH players will cry foul and say you can center the camera with the L trigger or use your index finger on the directional pad but those are just excuses. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the game, it’s just that I don’t want to have to either run away from a monster and stop to turn around to center the camera. Using your index finger on the directional pad is not comfortable at all either. My friends and I like to use the term ‘crab fingers’ since placing the index finger there looks like a claw and it starts to hurt after awhile. My other problem with the game is that the monsters are still unbelievably cheap. You might say that I’m either playing the game wrong or just plain out suck, but how many times have you been hit by a Tigrex and knocked to the ground only to get smashed the instant you stand up and repeatedly charged into until you die. Yea that is not fun and I know it’s happened to every single one of you.
Since this is an expansion you must be expecting some worthwhile additions to make you shell out $30 for a game you bought 2 years ago. In a way, yes it’s worth the money if you loved Freedom 2, but if you didn’t like it or if you’re more along the lines of a casual player you might want to give this one a rent. There are a new maps for each area included with the maps from Freedom 2, but they’re only new if you didn’t play the older MH games. 5 new monsters join the fight but most of these are just re-skins of previous monsters. An example is the Hypnocatrice which is pretty much a Yian Kut-Ku with sleep attacks and the Nargacuga which is a Tigrex who attacks with it’s long tail. There are also newer quests to be given by a Felyne which will become available to you once you clear the old granny’s quests. Once in the guild hall you can try your luck at the extremely difficult G-Ranked quests. The storage box has been expanded to 10 slots and you can combine items while in the box. There are also new weapons and armor sets for you to acquire.
One of the bigger additions is the inclusion of a Felyne fighter. You can now purchase a cat to fight side-by-side with you as you trudge through the quests in this game. Each one has a personality and effects with that personality. Your Felyne has two types of attacks. A bomb and it’s sword-like weapon. Each Felyne can be leveled to a maximum level of 20 and can be given various tasks to do that raise certain attributes. Making them lift dumbbells will raise their attack stat while you’re out on a quest and doing sit ups will raise defense. Taking your Felyne out on quests with you will raise their fondness and allow them to gain combat points. Fondness affects how often your comrade will decide to fall asleep during a quest and their chance for dropping traps to aid you. Combat points are used to purchase skills they can learn which range from elemental attacks to being able to play flutes that raise certain attributes like health and attack.
My favorite addition to the game is it’s Data Install. For around 500MB it’ll install part of itself onto your memory card(like PS3 installs) and cut load times. Gone are the days of entering an area or waiting for a quest to start and being able to do something quick while the game loads. These loads are quick, and by quick I mean like 5 seconds quick. This is a godsend for players who grew tired of having to wait so long to enter a new area. Trust me, you’ll be in the next area before you even finish blinking.
The game supports 4-player ad-hoc play so you and your friends can hunt together via the guild hall. If you have friends with the game this can be simply a godsend since some of the later guild quests are quite brutal and are much easier with some friends. If you don’t know anybody with the game then you’re pretty much out of luck and will have to solo the quests. One thing I don’t understand is why multiplayer is ad-hoc only. In Japan they have ad-hoc party which is an application on the PS3 that allows ad-hoc PSP games to be played online. Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G was one of the first games to support this and you’d think to help boost sales and support for the American audience, they’d release ad-hoc party in America.
The Final Word
With 5 new monsters, G-Ranked quests, comrades, and other additions Monster Hunter Freedom Unite makes a great expansion. Hardcore players will enjoy all the new content and newcomers to the series will find a great entry of the series to start with. Although many of the problems with Freedom 2 are still present in Unite, it’s hard to not recommend this game. I’m sure I don’t need to tell hardcore players to get it or not since they probably have it already, while casual Monster Hunter players may want to just take it for a rent if only to try out the new stuff. If you haven’t been sucked into Monster Hunter by now you’d be doing yourself a great injustice by not at least checking it out.
MonsterVine Rating- Good