Sunday, May 2, 2010

Monster Hunter Tri - Review

After months of planning and heavy advertising, Capcom US has finally released Monster Hunter Tri out in the states. As an MH fan myself, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this. Fans of the series will know that Monster Hunter is a multiplayer based action RPG were you (get this…) fight monsters. The series has always been known for its notorious difficulty which appeals to the more hardcore gaming crowd. But now the series has moved onto the more casual gamer friendly Nintendo Wii. The main question is: Will the game satisfy both veterans and newcomers? Well I say it most certainly does.

Now the series has never been known for its single player experience which has always been seen as more of a gloried tutorial. Playing the single player mode, however this time around, is much nicer and a great way to ease new players into what Monster Hunter is all about. There’s a huge sea beast called a Lagiacrus that has been disturbing a small water logged village and you have been brought in to learn about the situation and eventually go toe-to-toe with the huge water monster. You’ll learn how to hunt mine, gather, fish, and gain resources for the village. Later on, you’ll gain the help of a little companion called a “Cha-Cha” which will help you with your quests similar to Felyne Comrades in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite.

Battling monsters in MH has always been a test of timing and patience. MH Tri is no different. You’ll have to target weak points on boss monsters, eat food to keep your stamina up, and make use of traps to take down your foes. Later monsters like Barioth and Diablos will require lots of quick in-and-out hits. Some newcomers will think the level of difficulty in MH Tri is absurd, but once they realize that their hunter isn’t some kind of super powered warrior like in a typical hack n’ slash game and is more of a squishy human that needs to train and prepare themselves for these encounters, the game will become much easier for them.

The single player experience is fairly short, but of course, the online multiplayer is where the game truly begins. Up to four players can join up and hunt down monsters together. Whenever you’re not out hunting with friends, you can buy and build weapons, armors, and items as you would in the village. The best part about playing online is that there is absolutely NO FRIEND CODES, NO RESTRICTED CHATTING, and NO TYPICAL WII ONLINE BULLCRAP. Communicating with your teammates during hunts is important, so you can make use of USB keyboards and voice chat via WiiSpeak. There’s also an on-screen keyboard you can use, but it sucks. Joining up with friends to tackle quests will bring newcomers and veterans hours of fun, even though the amount of content in MH Tri is considerably less than MH Freedom Unite.

The game has several difference control schemes, like the wiimote & nunchuck combo which utilizes simple gestures to attack and gather items. While this scheme works well, the classic controller schemes work the best. If you ever played the PS2 or PSP versions of MH, there’s a play style made just for each. The PS2 style controls feel unchanged and just as clunky for controlling the camera which forces you to make use of the dreaded “claw” method of arching your index finger to move the camera around with the D-pad. The camera control on the PSP style control scheme is a lot better since it lets you use the right analog stick to move the camera instead, although you’ll still have both your hands wrapped around the controller while using both styles.

The big feature they’ve introduced into MH Tri is the new underwater exploration and combat. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice change of pace, but I absolutely can’t stand it. The combat underwater works just about the same as it would on land, but the camera underwater also controls the direction your hunter is facing when you want to swim up or down. This makes battles underwater completely frustrating when you’re trying to level yourself when fighting monsters and since you’re fighting underwater, everything just feels extra sluggish. Again, it’s a nice change of pace being able to battle monsters under the sea, but it should be nixed whenever the next console version of MH comes.

Overall, MH Tri doesn’t feel like a total step forward in the series. Instead, the game is more of a reboot to make both veterans and newcomers to feel like they’re playing the series for the very first time. While it’s still not a game for everyone, Veterans and newcomers alike will fall in love with the most engaging action RPG the Wii has to offer. Despite some of its issue, MH Tri is the best multiplayer experience you’ll find on the Wii.


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