MONSTER HUNTER: FREEDOM / Capcom / Sony PSP
 
 
Monster Hunter is really a charming game in a number of ways. It won me over at first. I actually wanted to like it, in spite of my belief that copying its mechanics is what ruined a good chunk of the PSP library. I wanted to like it in spite of the fact that solo players are clearly an afterthought, and this version only supports ad-hoc multiplayer. I wanted to like it in spite of it basically being patterned after your typical Asian tedious grindfest fantasy MMOs.

For all the charm of the visuals and the odd but strangely comfortable Conan-esque universe it inhabits, however, I don't like the game. And it's our old friend Wonky Camera, the culprit that ruined so many PSP iterations of polygonal PS2 games, that's responsible. The only option for shifting the camera view is to manually turn it - and slowly - using the digital pad. This is simply way too slow and unacceptable to keep up with the groups of zippy, constantly charging monsters you spend so much of your time hunting.
 


To be fair, the game was primarily pitched to multiplayer, and to Japan, where ad-hoc (at least in the PSP's heyday) was vastly more popular and common than it ever was here. Finding ad-hoc partners would have been a bit of a challenge in 2006-2007, by 2013 it's a virtual impossibility unless some friends buy the game along with you. Again, this particular version has no network play.

For those completely new to Monster Hunter, this is a port of the original game, which came out on the PS2 way back in 2004. I don't know that the PS2 version used the 2nd analog stick to freely control the camera, but if it did, that alone would make the game immensely more playable ... though the game is still very hostile to the solo player, with missions largely designed with an express need for other players to distract monsters or provide an escort.
 
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