Imagine if you were actually a hunter of massive, dangerous creatures. You’d need to gear up, make sure you have all the weaponry and armor you’d need, enough ammo for your ranged weapons, and you’d have to be sure your giant swords are sharp enough to cut through touch monster hide.
You’d need to practice, for sure, and you’d probably get better over time, able to aim your sights at even more deadly monsters, because the bigger the baddie, the better the payoff.
Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is exactly this. While hunting monsters is a ton of stressful fun, full of dodging and attacking and slaying, the rest of the activities in-game — choosing weapons, farming, hiring chefs and companions, crafting and buying better weaponry and armor — are equally as satisfying.
And now? It’s on your iPhone (or iPad), with some really excellent touch controls and better visuals than ever.
While Capcom’s Monster Hunter series (around on various handheld and living room consoles since 2004) has a massive cult fan-base, it’s not for everyone. However, anyone who’s wanted to take a dive into the series can do so now right on their iOS device.
As an added bonus, you can get online with up to three of your buddies and take on epic beasts all at the same time. That’s worth the $14.99 price right there, and seems to be a portable series first, at least in the US (thanks, J_Joestar).
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to get to know Monster Hunter Freedom Unite in all it’s quirky glory, then this is a worthwhile purchase.
Again, your task is to make your way through ever-increasingly difficult quests, at first given to you by the little old lady chief of the village you end up in at the start of the game.
You’ll have to grab some gear that a previous hunter left in a footlocker in your hut, including cold-weather gear and your choice of sword, big giant hammer, or crossbow-type weaponry, and head outside of town to find the object of your quest. The first five quests are fairly simple, if by simple we mean incredibly difficult for the newcomer.
Chances are, aside from the “find this herb and bring it back” quest, you’ll fail miserably at first. Keep trying, though, because as you get better, the whole experience opens up. There’s a real sense of place here, which I first noticed as I headed out to slay some Anteka beasts (they look like weird antelope creatures but they can crush you with a few ramming head-butts).
The scenery is gorgeous, and shows off much more nicely than it ever did on my PSP, 3DS, or PS Vita (all handhelds on which I’ve played iterations of this game). The current iOS version is a pitch-perfect port of the 2008 PSP game of the same name, and the controls have been expertly tuned for the touchscreen.
If a virtual stick and onscreen buttons aren’t your thing, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is fully compliant with Apple’s MFi (Made for iPhone) controller system, mapping the functions you need to physical controller layouts. I was able to play the game on a Logitech Powershell that was provided by the publisher, and it’s become my favorite small-device way to play the game, despite some quibbles with having to still manually tap the tiny little menu buttons on my iPhone screen.
When I put the game on my iPad 3, however, the touchscreen controls were perfect, and the larger screen makes tapping through the various menus much easier. For a game that’s historically had some crazy camera-control issues, being able to look around with a swipe onscreen is genius. You can still tap on the screen (or the left shoulder button when using a controller) to center the view, so hardcore Monster Hunter fans can do it all old-school.
The killer feature here, though, is the online gameplay. Gathering up with three other friends and taking on big monsters is a thrill of its own, and I’ve never been able to make that happen with previous iterations of the game. My friend and I (the inestimably handsome Rob Rich from 148Apps) connected effortlessly via the online feature and went on to slay this huge electricity-dealing dragon-like creature called a Khezu. Needless to say, my buddy did the majority of the damage while I bobbed and weaved to stay the hell out of the creature’s way.
The one downside of the online implementation is the chat system, a third-party chat room that feels grafted on as an afterthought. You can download a separate app, but we found that just running a copy of Skype on the computer while we hunted the monsters was a much better way to coordinate our attacks.
If you like a deep, console-level gameplay experience full of weird and crazy monsters, and you’re willing to put in the time and effort to get to know Monster Hunter Freedom Unite in all it’s quirky glory, then this is a worthwhile purchase. If you do so – feel free to find me in the online gathering tent, and we’ll go a-huntin’.
The good: All of Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is here, plus some extra goodies, like online multiplayer and a monster lock-on system.