Ben Franchi ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Freedom Wars for the PS Vita is a fantastic time waster. With gameplay reminiscent of that in the acclaimed Monster Hunter series, Freedom Wars mixes a rich and deep management system with fast-paced and frantic combat.
The game takes place in a dystopia known as a “Panopticon,” where you play as a “Sinner” with a million year jail sentence. While the story is typical anime fare, the setting is undeniably oppressive. Getting fined in jail time for the slightest of offences (including talking to people, at first) drills the paranoia home, and only by buying the requisite forms can you expand your potential in actually playing the game. In order to advance your rank and shave off your massive jailtime, you need to buy your rights as a citizen, the kind that would come as second nature to an average U.S. citizen. It’s a great way to make one feel like they are really oppressed by an omnipotent, Orwellian force, and it’s a shame that the story doesn’t roll with it better. It’s not a bad one, per se, merely a predictable one, albeit with flavorful characters and a good English translation.
What the story lacks, the gameplay shines through in with depth of customizability and intense gameplay. You can customize your character to an incredible degree (after purchasing the right to certain color palettes, of course) and there’s a rich variety of upgradable guns and melee weapons that will keep you experimenting your entire way through. A lack of the traditional equipment system you see in action RPGs, but this is supplemented by the “Thorn” system. Very early on, you get access to three different types of whip-like tethers that can be used to stun enemies, heal allies, or boost your defense depending on the type. It’s an imaginative system, and helps with finding certain gameplay niche styles. Adding in a Peace Walker-esque weapons and items construction system, and the capacity to donate supplies to your chosen Panopticon online in order to boost its power and ranking, and you have a very solid game on and off the battlefield
The chief objectives of your assigned missions, asides from item collection, involve rescuing citizens, trapped inside monstrous and well-varied “Abductors”, which are the meat of your enemies. It’s up to you to beat the stuffing out of these giants, rip the Citizens from their bodies, and book it back to special pods to get them out of there, all while the Abductor chases you down in a last-ditch effort to get back what you stole. Having an Abductor bearing down on you while your allies fight it off is an adrenaline-soaked affair, and your heart will be pounding for sure. Thankfully, the controls are slick and as fast as your reflexes, the third-person shooting system is easy and fun, and your Thorn lets you zip about the battlefield like Batman. You can also use Thorns to drag Abductors to the ground, or to grapple up onto them and try to saw their limbs off, which cripples them and nets you extra materials to upgrade weapons and synthesize items. Needless to say, this is a great game for fans of Attack on Titan.
Freedom Wars is a fun game and a big win for the Vita. While the single-player is fun, it’s best played with friends for the maximum experience. If the unique, dystopian take on the genre doesn’t hook you, the fast-paced, action-packed missions and in-depth weapons customization will. Have fun fighting the system.
Final Score: 8.5/10