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Release Dates

10/28/14 Sony Computer Entertainment
06/26/14 Sony Computer Entertainment
10/31/14 Sony Computer Entertainment

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Freedom Wars (PSV)

By Karl Koebke 18th Nov 2014 | 4,967 views 

Freedom Wars hasn't become the crowning glory of its genre, but it's a promising start for a new series.

Freedom Wars is the latest attempt to get some of that sweet, sweet Monster Hunter hype from Japan on the PlayStation Vita now that the series has migrated from Sony's PSP to Nintendo's 3DS. Just because something is derivative of another game does not necessitate it being a bad clone, though, and Freedom Wars brings some interesting narrative and gameplay twists to the Hunter genre. Although it flounders at the end, and the monster/weapon design can become repetitive, Freedom Wars is nonetheless an enjoyable addition to the genre, even if it isn't the new king.

Easily the best thing about Freedom Wars is its setting and premise. Humanity is on the brink of extinction with all that remains of it being relegated to major cities around the world called panopticons. Resources are scarce in this environment and everyone is expected to pull their own weight, including newborns. Those that don't contribute are labelled sinners and given a prison sentence of 1,000,000 years. Of course if all you did with people that didn't contribute was put them in jail and feed them then you wouldn't really be solving the problem, so instead of lounging around in their cells sinners are forced to reduce their sentences by going on missions that benefit the city. Missions range from fighting sinners from other panopticons, to destroying large Abductor robots from other cities, and saving civilians from the clutches of said robots.

Freedom Wars sells its setting masterfully by making every moment of gameplay permeate with the repercussions of your predicament. Completing missions allows you to buy entitlements and earn some of your freedoms back. At first you can't even pace around your tiny cell without adding ten years to your already-lengthy sentence. An android companion is a useful partner in missions but also remains constantly vigilant of your actions and makes sure you are immediately punished for any infraction. This set-up balances on a wire between being interesting and irritating, but it mostly succeeds at maintaining a good balance.

Unfortunately, the storyline doesn't do justice to the setting. What seems to be an intriguing premise at first never really goes anywhere before the end credits roll, and I was left decidedly disappointed by the inconclusive ending. I enjoyed the characters within the world, and there's a meaningful moral decision about halfway through that is a pleasantly surprising addition to the narrative, but for the most part the storyline is incomprehensible. Monster Hunter itself has always been more about gameplay than storyline, so this isn't unexpected for the genre, but I was really hoping that the fantastic setting would be accompanied by a similarly exciting narrative. There's more story to be had after the end credits roll, and that's useful in providing an incentive to continue playing after the game 'ends', but even this seems to be a detriment to the storyline of the standard campaign.

Gameplay is divided up into self-contained 20-50 minute missions which often involve defeating large robotic monsters (Abductors) and smaller humanoid or robotic enemies. The system for fighting these large monsters works brilliantly. A press of a button allows you to grapple to any point in range using your “thorn”, and if you use this on a larger monster you will actually cling to them and can start cutting off pieces. You can also use the thorn to drag the monster down to your level and start hacking at it while on the ground. Each piece that's dismantled in this way not only rewards you with loot when you pick it up but also decreases the capabilities of the Abductor in obvious ways. So if you're up against a bipedal Abductor with shields on each shoulder, you can grapple to his shoulders and cut off the shields, allowing projectiles to hit it, or cut off one of his arms at the shoulder to take away some of its offensive capabilities.

Abductors aren't going to take this sitting down and will occasionally attempt to shake you off, but with practice you can leap away at just the right time and grapple back on to the same point in mid-air. These moments are when Freedom Wars' gameplay is at its best. Missions in which you save civilians use this concept very well, allowing players to cut the civilian out of the Abductor and save them before actually defeating the robot. Carrying a civilian leaves you cumbersome and vulnerable but that's why every mission is done with four sinners and their four robot surveillance systems, so teamwork between the eight of you is expected and even a necessity for later single player missions.

Unfortunately fighting against smaller targets is far less enjoyable. Freedom Wars is not designed around quickly switching targets in melee combat, so if you're up against groups your best bet is to use a gun, which feels notably imprecise compared to standard shooter titles. I also ran into some trouble with my AI partners in later levels. Unlike in Monster Hunter, dying in Freedom Wars is expected and indeed commonplace, but you can easily be revived by a nearby partner if they stay on their toes. This can be done by either walking up to an unconscious ally and reviving them after a short button prompt and animation, or by firing your thorn at them from afar. Unfortunately the AI apparently doesn't know about the second option.

Another problem is the general lack of variety in weapon models. Part of the joy of Monster Hunter is working towards that new weapon and seeing it in your character's hands before trying it out. Freedom Wars is lacking in this aspect. Weapons have almost endless variations - similar to those in Borderlands - but the number of actual weapon models feels limited. Sure, you can build up new weapons and go try them out on some Abductors, but they'll likely look and feel the same as the last weapon you were using. There's also no armor in Freedom Wars, although the clothing customization is pretty extensive once you've spent some entitlement points on unlocking all your options.

Beyond the lack of weapon models, though, I think Freedom Wars' presentation is pretty good. Panopticons feel appropriately like giant cities in which you are constantly being watched, and there are only a few occasions where the Vita can't handle the sheer amount of chaos that occurs during missions. The voice acting options only include Japanese with subtitles, which won't be a problem for many, but I did feel like I was missing out on truly feeling the oppressive nature of the panopticons' constant announcements through the loud speakers, as these are unfortunately not translated.

The Monster Hunter genre is defined by having almost infinite replayability through multiplayer, and Freedom Wars makes a good attempt at trying to achieve that same level of replayability. After spending 24 hours getting through the single player storyline I put some hours into the online multiplayer and I found it to be pretty enjoyable overall. I was initially disappointed that there weren't multiplayer-specific cooperative tasks to undertake, but special operations are added regularly so that you don't have to repeat missions you've already completed in single player again and again. There's competitive as well as cooperative multiplayer but given how the game feels somewhat lacking when going up against smaller targets you'll likely find cooperative multiplayer much more compelling, although it's always nice to have both options.

Freedom Wars hasn't become the crowning glory of its genre, but it's a promising start for a new series. If the narrative had matched the quality of the setting, the shooting mechanics felt more refined, and there was more weapon variety, then it could really have made a run for that title. As it stands, Freedom Wars proved a fun distraction and I can see myself coming back to it every now and then to chop up some robots with random people around the globe, but it's not yet a worthy rival to Monster Hunter.

VGChartz Verdict


This review is based on a retail copy of Freedom Wars for the PSV

Read more about our Review Methodology here

Sales History

Total Sales
1 189,634 n/a n/a 189,634
2 42,850 n/a n/a 42,850
3 20,559 n/a n/a 20,559
4 10,636 n/a n/a 10,636
5 5,341 n/a n/a 5,341
6 4,049 n/a n/a 4,049
7 3,839 n/a n/a 3,839
8 4,500 n/a n/a 4,500
9 2,345 n/a n/a 2,345
10 1,446 n/a n/a 1,446

Opinion (10)

Dr.Vita posted 06/01/2016, 11:51
700k is really nice for a new IP!!!
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fluky-nintendy posted 16/12/2014, 10:18
Still selling well for a Vita game in the west. Will easily break the 100k mark by the end of the year on US and Europe.
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venuse8102 posted 29/11/2014, 02:37
got to agree it is a fantastic game but these sales are alittle low in my opinion. wish more people would atleast try it or something.
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Ultr posted 27/11/2014, 09:01
Man this game is very good... I had to force myself to stop tonight...Else I wouldn't have slept. There is so much stuff to do and the gameplay is demanding and heavily rewarding.
I just hope it sells good enough to warrant a sequel!
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hunter_alien posted 22/07/2014, 04:21
Strong sales... this one will easily do 400k+ with DD in Japan alone. Hell if the legs hold out we could see it reach even 500k...
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Ganoncrotch posted 13/07/2014, 11:01 if anyone hasn't heard of the number 1 selling game in the world right now like me, here is a vid of it from E3 looks pretty damn awesome for a vita game... or any game really.
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