Thursday, March 18, 2010

Monster Hunter Tri - Demo Impressions

The Monster Hunter series has always been a very niche action RPG game title that hasn’t had much mass appeal in western territories. Capcom hopes to change all that with Monster Hunter Tri exclusively for the Nintendo Wii. Hoping to jumpstart western interest, Capcom has released demo discs at GameStop on March 8th all over the US.

The game’s premise is simple: You’re a hunter that goes around hunting monsters with other hunters. The hunters use pieces of the monsters they’ve hunted so they can make better weapons, armor, and equipment to hunt bigger monsters. That’s it. There’s no ridiculous story and almost no plot. It’s just you, some fellow hunters, some oversized weapons, and a world full of monsters waiting to be hunted.
I’ve been a very avid fan of the MH series ever since the series started back on the PS2, and have recently dove back into series with Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on the Playstation Portable, so I was very excited to try out the demo. The demo included only one area to visit and two quests to complete (Great Jaggi hunt and Quropeco hunt.) The demo, however, lets you try out all of the available weapons types including Sword & Shields, Great Swords, Long Swords, Hammers, Lances, Light/Medium/Heavy Bowguns, and the new Switch Axe. Four particular weapon types from previous MH titles, however, are not available which are Dual Swords, Gunlances, Hunting Horns, and Bows.
The previous MH titles in the series have been known by most for being notoriously hard and unforgiving, especially towards new players, but the game’s difficulty curve in the past was mostly due to faulty game mechanics such as monsters having poorly designed hitboxes, a poor camera system, and ridiculous monster AI. Thankfully, Monster Hunter Tri seems to fix most of these issues. During my playthroughs, I quickly got a grasp for the game’s control scheme using the classic controller. Attacking, gathering, running, and dodging were all a breeze, although I pretty much had to wrap my fingers around the entire controller during combat to keep up with the enemies. 

Monsters no longer have poorly designed hitboxes, so there are no mysteries when getting attacked. The monster’s AI has been completely redone and monsters now attack and react in a more realistic manner. During my battles with Great Jaggi, small Gaggis would attack with total caution. That is, until the Great Jaggi started calling the smaller Jaggis to move in and attempts to surround me before attacking. The game definitely feels more forgiving to newcomers; however the camera controls are still a bit of an issue.

After my short run through of the demo, I thoroughly enjoyed what it had to offer. Some of the more popular weapon types may be gone, but the new slew of moves for the existing weapon types and the new Switch Axe more than makes up for it. The demo didn’t have any multiplayer support which is a big part of the series, but it was to be expected.

Be on the lookout for a full review of Monster Hunter Tri when it’s released April 20th, 2010.


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