Forget your Pocket Monsters, the beasts that roam the world of Monster Hunter are the real deal, and now you can hunt them all to your heart’s content on your mobile phone or tablet (provided it has a half-eaten apple on the back). Yes, the series that has been a constant fixture of Japanese sales charts over the past decade is making the jump to mobile devices.
First off, this is a port of a 2009 PlayStation Portable title, but unlike most attempts to bridge the gap between dedicated gaming systems and jack-of-all-trades mobile devices, this is a lovingly-crafted and well-executed effort at bringing the console experience to a touch-enabled device.
Starting out as a stranger in town, the entirety of your game is about rising in the ranks of monster hunters – as in hunting them down, killing them and making use of their remains for better hunting equipment, while selling the unwanted bits. Kill stuff, make stuff, kill bigger stuff is the order of the day here, and fans will know what to expect.
I personally have never really played a Monster Hunter game before, so I’m happy to say that this is a damn fine introduction to the series. There are tutorials and explanations aplenty, and while they’re a little too wordy and in depth at times, at least you aren’t expected to know every nuance of this incredibly deep game. From the very start, you always feel like an explanation is never far away, while you’re still given enough to discover and explore for yourself, should you wish to shed the training wheels.
Everything is set out in quests that are perfect for public transport commutes, and the nature of iOS devices means you can suspend play at any time and come back to it later. It truly feels portable, even more so than previous PSP/3DS versions. There’s a lot of grinding for sure, but the improved portability is what this sort of game is perfect for. There’s always enough time to kill a few more monsters for some improved gear, and if you can accept the grinding nature of Monster Hunter, then there is a huge and challenging game here, especially as the quests start to ramp up their difficulty. But don’t feel that you need to tackle the tougher quests on your own, as this game features full WiFi-enabled co-operative play for up to four players, which not even newer portable Monster Hunter games can boast.
This is honestly one of the better ports I’ve seen for mobile devices and the touchscreen controls work surprisingly well, even if the screen looks a little cluttered with icons; every function is easy to access, even on an iPhone 5 screen. There’s also support for MFI control pads, so it’s possible to get a more console-quality interface experience if you own one of these controllers. The visuals are also improved over its PSP counterpart, and although the poly-count is still low by today’s standards, the resolution has increased and everything runs smoothly. I never noticed any drops in framerate, and that’s really good to see.
VERDICT: At a price of around a tenner, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite may be one of the more expensive apps out there, but you’re looking at over a hundred hours of gameplay, with one of the best ports I’ve ever played on an iOS device. It’s a great introduction to a series that’s slowly growing in popularity over here, while hardcore fans will love the opportunity to take their questing with them wherever they go. Even with the higher price, it’s still cheaper than the Wii/Wii U/3DS versions, so it’s definitely worth a try if you’re interested in finding out what hunting monsters is all about.
SUPERB. This is the mark of greatness, only awarded to games that engage us from start to finish. Titles that score 9/10 will have very few problems or negative issues, and will deliver high quality and value for money across all aspects of their design.
Review code provided by publisher.