My good friend Martin has a saying whenever we talk about upcoming movies: "Trailers lie." Rarely will what we see in a trailer accurately encapsulate what the actual finished movie or game will be like. A trailer is designed specifically to garner interest, and not necessarily to truthfully describe what it's selling. And yet, even knowing this, very often we find ourselves passing judgment on something based solely on the few minutes of less-than-one percent of a completed product.
When I saw the trailer for Freedom Wars last week, I was sadly, woefully, pathetically underwhelmed. Everything about it screamed "cliché futuristic JRPG" to me.
Not that a cliché JRPG is necessarily a bad thing. But in this case, with the stack of unfinished, time-consuming JRPGs I already have, I pretty much figured I could predict the entirety of Freedom Wars and that time spent actually playing the game would be better spent playing something else.
Here's what I thought the game would be about, based on what I saw: A dystopic fantasy world where some technology allows you to see how much time a person has left to live. Some governing organization maintains control by draining the life energy out of undesirable members of society and using the energy for some purpose (most likely to protect cities from monsters).
The main character is a member of a resistance group composed of members who have the ability to harness their own life energy and fight for the oppressed to overthrow the totalitarian government.
Somewhere along the way the main character meets/captures an android girl/heroine and through their journey together, tragedy and drama ensues. Blah blah blah, boss fight, massive conspiracy/plot for dominance and/or godhood, grand finale, been there, done that.
Turns out I could not have been more wrong.
Freedom Wars is in actuality a multiplayer action game for up to 8 players. The game takes place in a dark future where, after years of environmental destruction, people now live in giant prisons called "Panopticons." From the moment of birth, people are given a sentence of one million years. Prisoners can volunteer for dangerous missions to rescue kidnapped civilians from giant monsters called "Abducters," in order to have this million year sentence reduced and hopefully one day gain actual citizenship.
Prisoners are accompanied on their missions by customizable monitoring androids called "Accessories" that can act as partners in battle.
I am actually genuinely interested in Freedom Wars now. It's like how if you start with a good impression but fall out of favor, it's very hard to win someone back over, but if you start with a bad impression and get on their good graces, they're more likely to stick with you even after subsequent negative news.
My initial assessment of Freedom Wars was that it would be a bland, by-the-numbers JRPG (I was even going to put money down on that fact, which means I probably owe Brian a drink), but now, being shown that my presumptions were irresponsibly erroneous, I feel far more willing to give the game a chance. Basically, Freedom Wars made me call myself on my own bullshit.
At its core level, the game does have the faint odor of another "answer to Monster Hunter that isn't Monster Hunter": You have mission-based gameplay and heavily emphasized multiplayer action with players battling large beasts... But the overall game layout is different enough that I actually didn't notice the similarities until going over the game description a second time.
The game will also apparently feature competitive multiplayer between different major areas utilizing the Vita's network and location functions, which seems like an interesting component, but also all but ensures that the game will be Japan exclusive.
Freedom Wars is scheduled for release on the PS Vita in Japan in 2014. No word on an international release, but unless they have global territory battles planned, it seems unlikely.
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