Freedom Wars: Review - Games Weekly

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Freedom Wars: Review

Amnesia’s an easy get out games have used it as a way to justify tutorials, crappy stories and telegraphed reveals since the dawn of the medium. Freedom Wars, however, finds a new use for an old trope: your anime avatar begins the game by getting punched in the head by a robot and being sentenced to 999,999 years in jail for, “reckless loss of memories.”

Daft reasoning aside the game takes place in a post apocalyptic future where resource stripped cities make prisoners of everyone unable to provide a contribution to the greater good it provides a neat, game wide conceit. Every positive action you take in the game from then on is in service of paying those years off.

Forgot about (shu)hei
With Monster Hunter off doing its Japan conquering thing on other consoles, Sony’s seen fit to nab that series’ grind happy action RPG template and make its own. Only instead of saving dragon-beset villages, you’re rescuing kidnapped non prisoners, destroying other cities’ robotic forces and donating unused resources, each of which makes a plea bargain-like dent on your million-year incarceration.
“there’s something rather thrilling about making a dent in your big Jail term.”
There’s something banally thrilling about seeing those years drip away after a mission well executed, and the fact that they constantly hang over every NPC’s head like Virtue's Last Reward's creepy death clocks makes it all the sweeter when you overtake others. Equally, the fact that the game extends your sentence for simple infractions such as lying down to sleep or failing to reply in convos fast enough until you literally buy those Entitlements gives a bureaucratic sense of the strictures in play here.

Sadly, the meat of the game itself doesn't quite match up to that grand, nihilistic set dressing. Monster Hunter (and every clone it inspires) thrives on the complexity of its varied weapon styles and the invisible intricacies of its giant enemies. Freedom Wars strips away the first by allowing you to equip ranged and melee weapons simultaneously meaning you can breeze through a good two thirds of the game before you start thinking about how to approach missions while its robotic enemies have neither the threat nor charm of the dinosaurs/serpents/bull beasts from the series it’s copying.

Combat’s saving grace is the Thorn, a grappling hook cum support item that enables you to vault around levels, climb monsters and set traps. Missions are never outright poor, but if you’re not using that acrobatic equipment, it’s frequently dull mandatory fetch quests often mean you spend long stretches between battles as it is.

Sony’s done a brilliant job of using amnesia to add something new to the MonHun formula it’s just a shame it forgot to work quite as hard on its game in the process.


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