As you hopefully noticed from all the other previews we’ve posted, Capcom showed off quite a few of their upcoming games at last week’s Captivate 09 press event in Monte Carlo last week, usually with just a trailer and developer demo, though some of the games were playable as well.
But when it came to Monster Hunter Freedom Unite for the PSP — which comes to America this summer after selling three million and counting in Japan as Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G. — Capcom decided to do something different. Rather than the same demo and Q&A session, they decided just to let us just play M.H.F.U., with a member of the dev team joining our hunting parties.
For those unfamiliar with the series, the game has you running around a primitive world, hunting dinosaur-ish monsters. Pieces of said monsters can then be combined into new weapons and armor you use to, well, hunt other monsters (it’s a vicious cycle, we know). For our group, this meant wandering around a large grass plain, looking for a bus-sized crab. Or rather, it would have, had I not gotten lost and ended up in a cave filled with very jumpy velociraptors. By the time I rejoined my party, the crab was dead and already caked (and no, fried and breaded dinosaur meat doesn’t taste as good).
Assisting you in your hunt are some interesting items and potions, including one called “Paint Ball,” which marks your prey so they always appears on your map, and a steak that can increase your stamina. There are also the usual compliment of heath drinks as well as hot and cold beverages for when you’re cold or hot, respectfully, because, as David Letterman used to say, a lot, “There’s not a man, woman or child on the face of the earth, who doesn’t enjoy a tasty beverage.”
But your biggest asset in taking down monsters is your sword, which, given that this is a Japanese game, is so large than no one could ever actually pick it up in real life, let alone swing it around (read into that what you will).
Not that you’re the only swinger in this game. Though you can go it alone, the game is actually designed to played with three friends via ad-hoc wi-fi. In fact, if you did try to go it alone, you’d have a hard time of it, since the game doesn’t scale back the difficulty.
The thing is, just from playing the game, it was hard to tell what was different from earlier versions. Well, except that — for reasons I wasn’t able to get a straight answer about — you can now have a cat in the game, and the cat can be trained to do stuff. You know, like a real cat.
Feline falsehoods aside, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite does look like another solid entry in this series. And a good excuse to say, “The hunt is on…”