Story- Freedom Wars is the newest action RPG game from SCE Japan Studio and it is set in the year 102013 where the human race is imprisoned in areas known as Panopticons (47 total to match the 47 Japanese Prefectures) which are in constant war against one another. Panopticon is an area that provides security for its citizens in exchange for time off the million year sentence that all newborns are given. In addition to the million year sentence, all citizens must obey the strictest of laws and if they are broken (by the way, you are automatically guilty), you are given additional years for every offense. This goes for resting, running, talking, etc. By performing various tasks, you can buy certain freedoms and this is essential for advancing the story and game.
Gameplay- Freedom Wars is the standard team action RPG that that many Monster Hunter and God Eater fans will recognize. All offer online and offline play that take place in different areas of the game world fighting huge monsters and defeating them before the set time expires. In Freedom Wars, the player is fighting huge weapons named Abductors because, you guessed it, and they abduct civilians. And it’s up to you and your merry band of misfits named Accessories which provide you with support and attack abilities during the fight. For the most part, they are helpful, but usually you’ll be let down by their subpar AI and the inability to get out of the fire. Many times I’ve seen my whole crew get demolish because they will not get out of the way of attacks while the enemy AI is spot on and will kill you with authority while your team is picking daisies on the other side of the map.
When the AI cooperates with you, the game shines. With various guns and sharp weapons, you can play the way you like. Whether you like hand to hand combat or sniping from a rooftop, Freedom Wars has what you need. Sharp skills in both areas will guarantee that you will succeed in this game. In addition to the melee and ranged weapon attacks, you are introduced to the “Thorn”. The thorn is a type of whip that the player can use to scale building, enemies and abductors. Using the thorn effectively on an abductor can yield positive results like tripping over the weapon to get free melee hits as well as scaling the abductor to try and rescue the abductees.
Once you perform the rescue, it’s a mad chase to the rescue pod. When this happens, the Abductor will go and chase you down preventing you from performing a successful rescue. Rescuing is a part of the game that’s essential in ending a battle early but it’s also the most frustrating as once you hold down X to sprint, there’s no way to control your character. If you are being chased down and run into a wall, you will be knocked down and drop the person you are carrying. So you must slow down and speed up when appropriate and you should be successful. If not, you’ll probably be one or two shotted and will have to either get revived or respawn at a checkpoint.
Graphics/Sound- Freedom Wars is one beautiful game. While most of it is dark and brown, there is still plenty of detail that makes the game shine. From the abductors to the accessories, you can tell that plenty of time was spent on the looks of the game and it shows. The game looks to be running at native resolution but it suffers from massive frame rate dips as it struggles with maintaining 30FPS when the action gets busy. It’s not game breaking but it is noticeable especially when trying to time your attacks and/or getting the hell out of the way. But once you look past those flaws, there’s a pretty game that looks great on both the OLED and the LCD vita.
The game is fully voiced and it sounds fantastic. From the accessories to the robot PA system, the voice acting was really well done. Good news is that the localized release will keep the Japanese voices with English texts. I was a little disappointed with the gun sounds as they sounded a bit muffled and not as loud as I hoped they would be. Other than that, the sound effects sound great and helps with the immersion.
Ease of Import- This isn’t as straight forward as most Japanese hunting genre games go. There are certain events that must be triggered before moving on. While the majority will give you an indication of where to, but most times it won’t be there because you need to gather materials or buy certain freedoms before moving on. There’s a certain point in chapter 2 where many non Japanese speaking players will hit a major wall and would give up. Luckily, GameFAQs has a large Freedom Wars audience where you can be helped when stuck. Most of the time, you’ll be buying various freedoms with the credit you’ve earned and eventually you will unlock what you need. Also, taking a screenshot and comparing with what you are missing will help tremendously. Other than that, the game doesn’t need a lot of Japanese knowledge, just a lot of patience and time. But once you get through that hurdle, the game will flow and will have hardly any problems language wise. If you don’t know any Japanese and are eager to play it early, it’s a fun time. Other than that, I suggest to wait for the localization coming this fall to enjoy it as it was meant to be played.