Developer: SCE Japan Studio
Release Date: 10/28/2014
Available Exclusively On
The Good: Great visuals, interesting post-apocalyptic premise, combat is fast paced and exciting, using the prison sentence system for everything in the game is fun, deep customization
The Bad: Combat is clunky and frustrating, same 4 maps and objectives are repeated ad nauseum, overly complex upgrade and creation system
The Vita is a strange system as several developers tried to make various genres a stable on the system. With Monster Hunter clone Soul Sacrifice not exactly bringing about that feat, Freedom Wars is the next game to make the Vita a blockbuster hit for co-op monster slaying fun. Freedom Wars starts out a little strange just like Soul Sacrifice. I didn’t understand the game for a while and it seemed just like there was something missing through the whole adventure.
Freedom Wars tries to bring about an interesting anime style post-apocalyptic adventure in which people are all prisoners and sentenced to fight monsters that will destroy settlements unless they have some sort of trait that the government can benefit from. Everyone starts about with a lifetime sentence, but it can get reduced based off of various accomplishments such as donating loot from battle to “the cause”, fighting monsters, taking part in more missions, and behaving. This is ingrained into the players head from the start as you are sentenced to 1,000 years by walking for too long. Yeah, it’s crazy and I loved it. If you run for too long you get your sentenced lengthened so you have to buy an upgrade that allows you to run, talk to other people, and do various other things which are actually quite cool.
One you read your sentence you put your thumb print on it and off you go. Now, the game is very slow to start and this is a huge downfall for these types of games as Soul Sacrifice suffered the same problem. There’s a bunch of dialog and back story to get through, a lengthy tutorial — not just for combat — and then getting used to controls and getting through missions. It takes over 5 hours just to get into the swing of things and start chipping away missions which are not a good thing. These anime type games always do this from monster slaying to JRPGs and it drives me crazy.
Once you do get into the field you can switch between melee and ranged weapons. The goal is to lock on to enemies and hack away at a weak point, but your special weapon is your grapple which can heal or do damage among various other things. Once you grapple to a weak point you can hack away at it and then the monster falls allowing all bots and yourself to go to town. It only gets fun when you find a momentum and your AI teammates are all getting along and doing their job. You also have an assistant bot that always look out for you that you can customize and assign certain weapons to. Once you fall you can be revived, but if it takes too long you lose a life. If you lose all your lives your sentence is lengthened and your reward for the next turn is reduced making this a tough game towards the end. I was able to whittle away to 4-5 star missions and it started getting ridiculously difficult and repetitive.
Without human teammates, the game becomes frustrating because you can fall in battle and 3 bots are right next to you and won’t revive you. There are also issues with the same 3 or 4 maps recycling over and over again and the same missions goals. Save these VIPs, destroy all these monsters etc. It gets really boring towards the 10th hour and I just stopped playing after awhile because I had no reason to go back.
Let’s talk about upgrading and creating weapons. This is so complicated and irritating as most of the time you can only upgrade or create something with components you have and it takes quite a few missions to build up a little variety. See, you have to create and build workshops to assign the civilians you save in missions to reduce build time and create things like healing items, weapons, ammo, etc. You can upgrade these buildings sometimes, but in the end, it’s all just a bunch of filler and nonsense. Give me a workshop to upgrade and create and leave me alone. It’s always so complex and unintuitive with these Japanese games. From JRPGs to action games, all the way to free-to-play mobile games. There’s layers upon layers of unnecessary upgrade menus and fusing and defusing etc. It hurts the game quite a bit so I just rely on buying more powerful weapons and upgrading them; I completely skip creating new weapons entirely.
Customizing your character is quite deep as you can buy new color packs, armor, and accessories in the game with points you earn in missions. I enjoyed it quite a bit and it there’s a lot of things to customize here so players won’t be disappointed. Overall, the game the looks quite good with great lighting effects and textures, probably one of the better looking Vita games out there. There’s a lot of detail here and game, it’s just a mess and is completely unorganized and unpolished. I feel the developers were trying several different things and couldn’t decide on just one. The gameplay is clunky with repetitive missions, recycled maps, and annoying AI bots. The story is nearly non-existent as it takes forever to unfold as you slog through missions after missions just to get a text cut scene. I would love to see a sequel, but seeing as the Vita is slowing dying I doubt that will happen.
Freedom Wars is only for the people who love Soul Sacrifice, Monster Hunter or are really patient and don’t mind repetitive combat to get to an ultimate goal. Playing with friends helps, but it doesn’t hide the mess and unpolish in this game.