If you own a PlayStation Vita, you’re probably suffering from a lack of amazing, non-indie, Vita-exclusive games. Well, October has brought us the gift of Freedom Wars, an exceptional first-party game.
Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, Freedom Wars is a Hunter-style Vita title set in the dystopian future. Freedom Wars gameplay manages to take the old, traditional third-person hunting format and bring in new elements and refine some features found in other games. The world is also rich, beautiful, and intriguing with an anime-style storyline that provides plenty of motivation to continue playing. Both the gameplay and artistic elements come together to truly show the quality of games the Vita is capable of.
Freedom Wars takes place well into our own future. The world has been divided into various “Panopticons,” prison-like societies in which every human is born as a “sinner” and given a 1,000,000 year prison sentence for being a drain on the planet’s limited resources. By taking missions from the Panopticon’s leaders and donating supplies, you can reduce this prison sentence. There’s something about watching the sentence number above your head tick down to zero that keeps me wanting to play more and more.
This storyline follows your particular “sinner” after he gets taken down in a mission and comes back with a nasty case of amnesia. This is a capital offense in the Freedom Wars world, so your sentence is reset to 1,000,000 years. However, during your death you meet a mysterious girl that goes by “Aries” that tells you you’re about to find the key to a great change in the world. The series of events continues to roll through mysteries, inter-Panopticon espionage, and all-out war, unfolding much like the episodes of an anime. Your customized character is fully realized in all of the cutscenes.
The game also carries plenty of flavor in the “entitlements” system. In addition to earning years off your sentence, you can also purchase certain personal freedoms such as clothing, color palettes, or the right to talk to other prisoners. While this can be annoying in the beginning when you can’t take more than five steps in your cell, it does contribute to the immersion and sense of accomplishment when you buy that right back. But, the story and accomplishments would be nothing if they weren’t backed up by an amazing set of gameplay elements.
During missions, dragons and dinosaurs have been replaced with large, robotic opponents and other humans wielding their own weaponry. Instead of just being anchored to the ground and relying on a dodge roll, Freedom Wars mixes up the hunter-style formula by introducing the “Thorn,” a grappling hook device that’s capable of pulling down foes, sticking your character to walls, and attaching your character to the larger robots to sever specific parts. This creates an amazing sense of action as you cling to a robot and try to saw its arms off or launch yourself at a group of enemies.
Freedom Wars also does ranged weaponry correctly. Making full use of the Vita’s twin analog sticks, the game has a variety of weapons from assault rifles and shotguns to flamethrowers and rocket launchers. The guns are just as effective as the physical weapons, giving greater freedom to players who wish to tool around with different fighting styles.
Finally, the game introduces a swath of multiplayer options. Traditional co-op is still present and friends can team up to take down tougher bots, but Freedom Wars has added a layer of competitiveness to the format. Panopticons are based off of real-life locations that players affiliate with when they start the game. By donating resources or participating in certain co-op events, the Panopticons compete for spots on a leader board in a sort of national pride contest. Objective-based, direct PvP modes have also been added for those who wish to use the sharp controls in a bit of versus action.
However, while it does many things right, Freedom Wars takes a step back in the crafting department. While most games have instantaneous crafting, Freedom Wars employs the use of real-life timers when making weapons or items. This element reminds me a lot of free-to-play games, but there are no micro-transactions in the game and the timers can be reduced through the use of in-game resources. The time can be upwards of half an hour and just feels like a huge time sink in an otherwise fast, action-packed game.
Overall, though, Freedom Wars is a highly playable and extremely fun game that has revitalized my interest in the hunter-style. Refined combat, an interesting multiplayer element, and an entertaining world combine to make a wholly fun experience.
Freedom Wars is sentenced to an 8/10.
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