Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is one of, if not the most ambitious iOS game yet. Can Capcom deliver? I spend $15 to find out.
Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way first. I tested the game on two different devices: an iPad mini and an iPhone 5S. Both devices were running iOS 7.1.2, and both devices were listed as compatible on the App Store’s page. The game looks great, especially on my Retina-capable devices. Capcom did a good job converting the assets to a larger screen. The game seems brighter as well, although that can possibly be chalked up to advances in screen technology since the PSP.
Let’s not kid ourselves, though. No one cares about the technical aspects of the game. It’s all about how the game plays. Or more accurately, how the game controls. Capcom came up with a fairly clever control scheme that works fairly well on a touch screen. The camera is controlled by swiping the screen, and you can quickly reorient the camera behind your character by tapping the screen. Each weapon has a primary action button; touching the button activates a basic attack, while sliding the button in a particular direction activates secondary attacks or functions. A secondary action button activates other features of the weapon. For example, blocking weapons use the secondary button to guard, while the bowguns use the secondary button to activate the scope. A third button is dedicated to rolling, or crouching if the player is standing still. Finally, the fourth button is used to sheath the weapon if it’s out, or to perform various context-sensitive actions such as gathering, mining, climbing up ledges, or using the supply boxes.
How well does this scheme work? Surprisingly well, although purists may gripe about the automatic camera focus that was partially borrowed from Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. It’ll definitely feel awkward at first, but after slogging through the required tutorial missions, it almost becomes second nature. You will want to take the training mission(s) for your chosen weapons, though, if for no reason other than to get the weapon-specific controls under your fingers.
So, the burning question. Should you buy this game? If you’re a Monster Hunter vet who has an iPad, the answer is a slightly enthusiastic yes. This is the authentic Monster Hunter Freedom Unite experience, down to the ridiculously slow text speed, and if you can come to grips with the controls, the game will definitely deliver.