Sunday, May 31, 2015

Game Diary - Freedom Wars.

New header wooo!

I really appreciate that the degree of character variation in Freedom Wars makes my petite platinum's features really stand out.  She's a full foot shorter than her towering Accessory, her best friend and worst enemy.

Freedom Wars is a Monster Hunter clone, and there've been a few of them in recent years.  Toukiden, God Eater, Soul Sacrifice - they all stick to the same basic palette - but I was never able to get in to them.  Never tried a Monster Hunter game, the demo for Toukiden didn't sell me and I actually own a physical copy of Soul Sacrifice, but its world never captured me and its tiny little arenas, so disconnected from each other, never coalesced into a meaningful whole.

I think some part of my brain was aware of Freedom Wars' genre when I snagged it on sale last week, but it has done so much to overcome my defenses, I find myself really captured by this little portable action-RPG.

Its world, for example, is terribly imaginative and interesting.


You wake in a cell - a tiny, concrete room with nothing but a bed, a screen on one wall and your Accessory standing between you and the door.  Your Accessory informs you, in its expressionless artificial voice, that you are a Sinner, guilty of the unforgivable crime of losing your memory.  Your collected experience and skills, it advises, were considered very important resources of your Panopticon - a post-apocalyptic city-state - and you have thus been stripped of all your freedoms and sentenced to one million years of service

One.  Million.

The number floats above your head.  You pace back and forth in your cell - what the hell is going on?  The screen flashes red.  You are guilty of pacing in your cell.  You have not been granted that freedom.  Twenty years have been added to your sentence, your Accessory explains.

Goddamnit.

Your Accessory notices that you seem pretty exhausted, and says you won't be able to meaningfully contribute to your Panopticon in such a state.  It suggests you get some sleep.  You lay down, stretch out, and red flashes across the screen.

Oh for...

You have not been given the right to recline in your cell.  Thirty years have been added to your sentence.

Fucking Accessory.


You acquire the right to pace in your cell, to recline on your bed, to exit your cell, by purchasing Entitlement Certificates from your Panopticon.  Entitlement points are earned by meaningfully contributing to your chosen city-state, both through assigned or elected combat operations and by donating the materials you're permitted to keep from the field.

When you begin, all the best stuff will be immediately seized by your 'Con, because you haven't earned the right to keep level-2 rarity weapons, you waste-of-skin Sinner.  In Freedom Wars, simply being born carries a million-year sentence, because your very existence is considered and unforgivable drain on your 'Con's resources.

Now... you can withhold choice items... if you're okay with a few more years getting slapped on your sentence.  I nabbed myself a fucking sweet level-4 rarity rocket pod, for the low-low price of just eighty years.  Worth it.

I've moved my way up to a Code 3 Sinner, with a few more freedoms.  I can actually run for more than ten straight seconds without getting more time added to my sentence!  I've bought - that is to say, I've earned - the right to not only speak to other Sinners, but to speak to other Sinners of the opposite sex.

It's kind of a big deal.

Mattias is such a dumbass.
There's very little to do in the 'Con except hang out with other Sinners, go on missions and visit the Cell Garden and the Warren.  The Warren is the lowest level of the Panopticon, home to the only restaurant I've ever seen and a store that sells mediocre goods for terribly high prices.  I think the guy who runs the shop may be the leader of all organized crime, but he seems chill enough.

As you wander from your cell, through colossal nondescript concrete canyons in which football fields could comfortably stretch out, you meet some very experienced Sinners.  Old, combat-hardened war dogs who've survived long enough in combat operations to shave one or two hundred thousand years off their sentences.

You'll meet the 'Con's criminal element - folks who've accepted their lot, under the boot of this awful future, and have taken it upon themselves to get as comfortable as possible while skirting as many rules as they can.  "1,503,785" hovers above their head, as they grift you for supplies before parting with a shred of precious, subversive information.

You eat ice cream.



The world around the game's combat is rich and curious and I want to know more.  Its details and rules are threaded in to actual RPG-esque game mechanics, as you level up your character by purchasing the right to wear a jaunty beret, or oversee a tier-3 production facility, which may turn out a cutting weapon that will outdo your current arsenal.

And then, of course, there's the combat.


What separates Freedom Wars from every other Monster Hunter clone is the thorn, which permits you mobility across the vertical axis.  There are three types of thorns - ones that are good for dragging enemies to their knees and ensnaring them, ones that permit you to heal your teammates, and ones that provide defensive benefits - but all of them allow you to zip around the environment sort-of-but-not-really like Spider-Man.

You can fire your thorn into a wall and launch yourself to it, hanging above the fray below, spraying machinegun fire into a crowd of enemy Sinners.  You can use it to zip across the landscape faster than you can run, smacking into a wall, leaping atop it and flying off the other side as a colossal Abductor thrashes about behind you, and you can use it to climb right up on to the thing's head, point your machinegun at its face and unleash a clip's worth of pain.


Each Abductor type comes equipped with various armaments - be that shield generators which render gunplay ineffective or rocket launchers or lazer cannons or just great, grotesque limbs for punchin' - and you can cut them all off.

Smaller melee weapons are all designed for cutting, and when you latch on to an Abductor you can land on its lazer cannon, tap triangle and start sawing the thing off.  Once you cut all the way through, there's this nice explosion and you leap away as the pieces go flying.  The shards of the cannon crash into the field below and you dash up to them to snag the precious resources.

With these, I may be able to build a bigger sword.

There are chainsaws and greatswords, clubs and chainguns, net launchers, flame throwers, giant Uchigatanas and nine-barreled machineguns to discover.  You can equip two weapons at any given time - a little one-hander machinegun for using while grappling, for example, and a rocket pod for more generalized DPS - and the weapons you choose have a major impact on what role you can play, when it comes down to a scrap with the hulking Abductors.

They're your spec, basically.


You and your merry band of Sinners are constantly accompanied by your Accessories - who you can also kit out with awesome weapons.  You choose your three bestest buds, pick a mission, and throw down with colossal weirdo creatures for the good of your society.

The degree of tactical choice in the combat, the pretty-goddamned-excellent production values, the rich world, the speed and freedom of movement, and the game's very-Japanesey sense of style have all let Freedom Wars get under my skin, and denied The Witcher III any more of my time.

Really quite unexpected.

I've got my sentence down to nine hundred and eighty thousand years, so far.



 

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