Imagine being forced to work off a criminal sentence of 1 million years. It seems like an especially exorbitant number already. Now, imagine that you are serving this sentence because apparently you’re losing your memory, not something resembling any actual form of real-world crime.
Many others also share a heavy sentence with you, and all people afflicted with this problem are called ‘Sinners’ who are forced to fight to reduce their sentences.
This situation is a rather ridiculous premise that sets off the introduction of “Freedom Wars,” a third-person action game on the Playstation Vita similar to “Monster Hunter,” in which you hunt giant monsters called ‘Abductors’ and fight against hostile human enemies.
The reason for such combat comes from competition between what the game calls ‘Panopticons,’ which are essentially cities all over the world competing for resources in a post-apocalyptic environment where such resources are scarce. There’s not exactly any further reason given for such struggles. The main story follows the struggles of your player-made character and a handful of other characters who are aesthetically pleasing, but generally about as deep as a kiddie pool in terms of personality.
It might be rather apparent by this point that the story of “Freedom Wars,” while potentially intriguing, isn’t exactly the game’s strong point.
At the very least, the customization options for creating your character are very expansive, and you also get to create an accompanying character dubbed an ‘Accessory,’ who acts as a watchdog on your potential criminal activity.
This leads to one area in which the game arguably excels: the humorously absurd nature of what is considered a crime in-game. For example, your sentence might be extended for the crime of simply speaking with a person of the opposite gender.
Much of the game is spent collecting entitlements from combat operations which slowly restore your rights in-game. It’s an intriguing system which shows measured progress, while also potentially offering some short introspection on the idea of ridiculously limited freedoms.
Another area in which the game is excellently constructed is simply within its gameplay, with a fair variety of missions and weapon types to keep a player interested. Like the player, Abductors and other enemies also get to take advantage of the weapon variety. This results in sometimes frustrating, but more often enjoyable bouts of gameplay where the player struggles to bring down massive monsters and avoid their powerful assaults.
The player uses an object called a ‘thorn’ within these fights to both maneuver on the battlefield and assist in fighting the hordes that await. One function of the thorn might be to perform a “dragdown” of an Abductor to allow a player to sever specific parts of the monster or to more effectively attack.
They come in three types: binding, healing and shielding. Only one can be equipped at a time for the duration of a battle, and appropriate use of any type can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Players can also take the fight online with up to three other players. The gameplay of “Freedom Wars” is already a strength, but it is made even more apparent in online play. The sense of camaraderie and enjoyment gained from taking down huge monsters with friends is one that is difficult to be matched by other games.
Less experienced players who are having trouble with advancing can even use the online play function to get help for missions they can’t complete, which is quite honestly very helpful for several missions in the game.
One in particular had me fighting solo against seven or more enemies, and companions were not available in any capacity save for online play. This occurrence was the most severe loss of enjoyment I experienced playing “Freedom Wars,” but it doesn’t heavily blemish all the positive responses it garnered otherwise.
Players accustomed to English dialogue in their games will unfortunately find no such option here. All of the game, despite its English text translation, remains voiced in Japanese. It’s not exactly a disappointment or a boon to the game in any way, but it does raise questions of how an English voice cast could have sounded.
The game is priced at $29.99 new, which is relatively cheap compared to the average $40 price of other Vita games. This is in all likelihood the reason why there was no English dialogue, but it’s a sweet deal. The lack of such dialogue is by no means a reason to pass on the game.
The appealing price tag combined with the enjoyable gameplay makes “Freedom Wars” a great purchase for any person looking for another good Vita game to add to their collection. The frustrations present within the game are never enough to completely mar the experience, and any fan of third-person action games or “Monster Hunter” would do well to check out “Freedom Wars.”
This is a review written by Printz Writer Brandon Allen, B.L.Allen@ealges.usm.edu