Games reviewed in 10 straight-to-the-point questions.
Game: Freedom Wars
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Time to beat: 45 hours for normal playthrough / 150+ for all optional missions and leveling up you character, weapons, and facilities
Q1: Who’s it for?
- This game is centered around missions requiring you to team up with other players / NPCs in a dystopian future to take down giant enemies called Abductors, so fans of monster-hunting games like, well, the Monster Hunter series will feel right at home
- The game is a 3-person action / shooter with some RPG-elements, so if you enjoy leveling up weapons, characters and item-building facilities, this comes well recommended
- Due to the mission-based nature of the design, this game is perfect for those looking quick bursts of gameplay, although it can be played at length as well (some missions can take up to 45 minutes to complete)
Q2: What’s the story like, and does it require any pre-existing knowledge?
The setting puts you in the role of a fully customizable criminal who “volunteers” to fight on the ongoing war between Panopticons (the future versions of countries) with the objective of reducing your prison sentence, which starts at a whopping 1,000,000 years (yep, it’s a loooong game). The story itself does a serviceable job of filling in the gaps between missions, and helps you develop (albeit simple) relationships with your team members, which actually makes you care about them during battle. There are some elements of intrigue that are a little hit and miss, and the story didn’t quite grip me, but again, it helped setting the stage for the awesome battles to be had.
There is no pre-existing knowledge required to enjoy this game, so feel free to jump right in.
Q3: What’s the learning curve like?
Once you get a handle of the combat style, the gameplay doesn’t change much for the duration of the game. The main challenge at first is actually learning to navigate all the slick menus to wrap your head around all the options available to you:
- Touching the screen in your cell will bring up a specific set of options, the most useful one being purchasing “entitlements” that you can earn my completing missions. These entitlements allow you to improve your gear, your comrades’, or play more freely within the game world
- Also while in your cell, if you speak with your “accessory” (a droid tasked with supervising you and providing support during battle) will allow you to claim specific rewards, save your game, or request permission to leave your cell (among other things). If you decide to talk to them outside your cell, no options will be available
- Pressing the Start button will bring up yet another menu, allowing you to sign up for missions when you’re ready, build and manage facilities (for building weapons, ammo, etc.), customize your loadout, customize the set of orders for your accessory and your teammates, among other things
As you can see, there is a lot to wrap your head around (I’ve only given you the highlights here), given that a lot of these things are context-based, but if you put in the time and effort, the system works seamlessly to allow you to shape each battle exactly how you want to tackle it.
Q4: What are the controls like?
The controls are standard 3rd person shooter fare. The main novelty here is using your “thorn vine” to stick to surfaces, pull yourself towards them, and either attach yourself to them or perform a swipe attack at your target.
Overall, the controls are responsive, but they do take some getting used to, and by the end of the game, I was actually still making mistakes mid-battle.
Q5: Does it have split-screen?
No, only local and online play with other PS Vita owners
Q6: How’s the online component?
The online component allows you to join in with other players to take on specific missions designed for multiplayer (deathmatches as well as abductor fights), as well as tackling main story missions if you need help.
Q7: How’s the presentation?
The game has a very unique style that is immediately recognizable. The character designs are particularly interesting, but what really takes the cake is the design of the giant enemy abductors. They all manage to look menacing and sleek at the same time.
All dialogues are in Japanese, although subtitles are available in English. The music is very fitting to the setting and the action, and for fights that last up to 45 minutes, the tracks don’t get old. A particular highlight is the track that plays before jumping into battle, which really gets you pumped.
Q8: What are similar games / alternatives you’d recommend?
- Monster Hunter definitely comes to mind first
- Due to the online component allowing you to team up with other players to take on missions, games like World of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls Online could be good alternatives
- If you like massive boss fights, the God of War games on PS Vita are good options, and if you have access to it, God of War 3 is the best of the lot
Q9: Anything you wish you knew before going in?
Well, having had the list I made on Q3 available at the beginning would have saved a lot of hassle and confusion at the beginning, but it definitely wasn’t a deal breaker.
I also wish I had figured out which vine would be best to have before committing fully to one. There are three types: Binding (helps with bringing down enemies), Healing (heals you and team mates) and Shielding (improves defenses, and helps revive team mates remotely). I ended up going for Shielding, since I had leveled up Binding and Healing allies, and I liked the ability to revive team mates. The only problem was that I had already focused on Binding when I made up my mind.
During the first few battles, it wasn’t apparent to me that you’re able to drag abductors down and sever specific parts of their armor, which is an integral part of the combat, and would have made the early stages of the game a lot easier.
Q10: Should I buy it?
Freedom Wars is definitely a great game to add to your Vita collection. It has great battles, fully customizable characters, weapons and teams, and you get good mileage for your money, due to the duration of the game, with the addition of the online component.
What makes it a bit of a hard sell is the amount of things that you need to wrap your head around early on in the game, which can be a bit overwhelming. Yes, it is probably down to me not putting in the effort, but to be honest, I prefer playing portable games that are easy to jump into and have fun with, and don’t expect you to almost take notes and absorb everything the first time you read it. Call it a personal preference, if you will.
I have to admit that once I managed to absorb the initial wave of information, I did end up having a lot of fun building my own guns and trying out new ammo types and enhancements. However, if you don’t actively change things up between battles, things can’t start feeling a bit repetitive half-way through, so playing in short bursts is definitely recommended.
7 out of 10 entitlement points
I've been a gamer since the SNES days and Donkey Kong Country was the first game I ever owned.
I currently work as a management consultant, and my console of choice is the Nintendo Switch, which I carry with me during my travels.