Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Freedom Wars Review (PS Vita)

'Freedom Wars' is a million-year fight for fleeting liberty
Written by Drei Medina

The world is currently embroiled in chaos with the eruption of an all out war between Panopticons – global territories – that battle to vie for extremely limited resources to further their survival.
Unfortunately, you've just committed a grave crime against society and for this you'll be demoted to sinner status and be sentenced to a million years within your Panopticon.
As a sinner, you'll be locked up in a tiny cell with a plain bed, an interactive monitor system called “The window of liberty” and your personal accessory.
Contrary to what it's called, “your personal accessory” is actually a Panopticon programmed humanoid tasked to constantly monitor your correctional status and worth to society.
All your rights were also stripped including basic things such as walking beyond five steps and laying down on bed which you have the chance to regain through participating in the war of Panopticons.

Story
Freedom Wars is an Action-RPG game that has heavy monster hunting elements mixed with both hack n' slash and FPS action and focuses on a unique combat grappling system.
Its story revolves around you, a sinner who lost his memories and was slapped with a million-year sentence as punishment for being a detriment to the growth of your Panopticon.
With the help of some veteran sinners, you attempt to rise through the ranks by participating in operations to bolster your Panopticon's economic status but then discover something more crucial than just winning the war.
The setting of Freedom Wars' story is interesting and has a lot of potential but the way the plot was delivered ingame feels a bit clunky and rushed.
The plot leaves more questions than answers and scenarios including character conversations are dry and rarely engaging.
There are also abrupt dream sequences that attempt to immerse the player into the “Great Transformation” topic yet these scenes almost always have the same predictable dialogue which waters down its eventfulness.
In addition, any interesting story progression is usually interrupted by a dull mission especially in the early part of the game. The latter part holds up much better but leaves more to be desired when taken as a whole.

The story also ends in a steep and confusing cliffhanger so I wouldn't be surprised if there will be a sequel in the near future where the truth to Freedom Wars will be revealed.

Visuals
Graphics-wise, there's nothing more I can say about Freedom Wars other than it's the topnotch eye candy game in the current Vita roster.
Everything is sharp and stunning from its characters, to the backdrop, the terrain and even the interface.
The level of detail in character models is extremely high while vibrant ingame colors make the game enjoyable even when playing the most tedious of missions.
Hands down this game simply boasts the best all around graphics I have seen for a Vita title so far.
The game's excellent graphics are also seen during awesome cut scenes which are smooth and filled with action.
Another great thing about the game's visuals is its impressive aesthetics particularly the fashion sense of the characters.
Most characters are shown wearing military inspired casual wear that you can tailor for your own character through the image change option.
Alot of styles can also be achieved in trying various clothing combinations. Cosplay or dressing up as characters from popular books, movies and video games is common among the community and fun to do.

Gameplay
There are a lot of things that makes the gameplay of Freedom Wars special even among other monster hunting games. One of which would be how the game fleshes out its world for the player to dive into.
With an organized correctional military facility setting, the game makes you feel opressed right off the bat with dialogue that puts you down and a corresponding punishment that lingers for every misstep.
As a sinner, you are treated like dirt and will have to take some social lashing from higher tier citizens. This is equally reflected in both story and non-story conversations.
But as the story progresses you will slowly work your way to buy the little liberties in life while earning respect from your peers.
Another factor that makes Freedom Wars stand out is the thrilling combat. You can choose from a wide array of combat styles when using the game's assortment of thirty-one melee and ranged weapons.
Whichever weapon you wield you will have to deal with the three primary types of missions namely: Liquidation (combat; eliminating all targets), Citizen reclamation (combat; retrieving resources) and Stealth (non-combat; infiltration).
In these missions, the 'thorn' feature gives a fresh take to monster hunting gameplay as it adds functions including immobilizing enemies and using it as a sort of grappling mechanism to get around faster.
You will be using your thorn mostly when battling against giant biomechanical enemies categorized as abductors that are equipped with various weaponry ranging from machine guns to lasers.
But one of the best parts of Freedom Wars' combat is how you can sever the limbs off of abductors and depending on the part this will affect the types of attacks they can use.
Upon destroying a specific abductor body part, you can get items that can be later used in upgrading or modifying weapons.
However, the game's weapon modification feature, although addictive is complicated and has an inadequate tutorial that fails to teach players how to properly strengthen weapons.
Finally, Freedom Wars scores well in the soundtrack department with its pretty cool and solid beats that go generally well with its gameplay. The battle music also helps engage players during missions.

Going online
Before I tackle Freedom Wars' online mode, I would like to point out that the game is meant to be played offline until you reach the final boss of code 7.
This is because going online earlier makes missions too easy which in turn will drastically reduce the fun in gameplay.
So it's probably best to go online and get some help from other sinners after reaching the said stage since there will be a sudden spike in difficulty and soloing the final boss might prove to be too difficult and frustrating for the average player with just AI partners.
The game's online mode is divided into the cooperative and versus mode. The cooperative mode is where you can team up with other sinners from the world and do missions together.
Cooperative mode is highly enjoyable with only some minor technical hiccups such as lag particularly when connection types do not match.
Versus mode on the other hand is where sinners can test their mettle against their counterparts from other Panopticons.
Sadly, Freedom Wars' versus mode is plagued with multiple issues ranging from long queueing times, unfair matchmaking and leavers.
The main problem is probably the queueing time which can sometimes reach up to an hour just for a single match to start. If you're lucky then you might just wait just in between ten to thirty minutes.
To make things worse, if you do get into a match then there's a high probability that your team composed of you and three AI sinners will be pitted against a team of three to four human sinners.
And if you do get into a fair match chances are that your opponent is farming rank points and will quit the game just before you get the win which results in the match being terminated due to an “error”.
It would have been better if there was just a free for all versus mode which would resolve most of these problems.

The verdict: 8/10 [good game]

Freedom Wars is a monster hunting Action-RPG game that packs a punch with both hack n' slash and FPS elements while boasting gorgeous graphics and exceptional gameplay.
Sadly, the game suffers from a staggered storyline that seems to hint a sequel. Its online play divided into cooperative and versus mode is both fun and unbearable respectively.

Pros:
+ Gorgeous graphics
+ Fresh gameplay
+ Fun coop mode
Cons:
- Staggered story
- Botched versus mode