Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Game Review: Monster Hunter Tri (Wii)

The Monster Hunter series has found it very difficult to establish a presence in Europe and the UK. In Japan, the games have a massive fan base and generally the series is considered to be one of the best of the current generation. This new instalment, Monster Hunter Tri, has finally come into its own and reached the series’ highest potential yet. You will be engrossed in an engaging and action packed world, full of beautiful and deadly monsters that will need teamwork and skill to take down. Tri offers fantastic weapon and armour customisation, a really well grafted single player campaign, but it is the cooperative monster hunting adventures that steal the show. You will find yourself partnered with friends and strangers alike in parties of up to 4 players, traversing beautiful landscapes and taking down incredible beasts, which in itself, is an incredibly rewarding and fun experience. This is without a doubt the best way to enjoy Monster Hunter Tri.

Although the single player campaign is not the main focus point of Monster Hunter, it is an important asset in terms of getting you accustomed to the world and game-play. For newcomers to the series, this is an excellent example of differentiation between games that are catered for the Eastern Market, as opposed to the West. Many casual gamers will have probably never played a game like this and the best way to describe it is somewhat resembling World of Warcraft, except without all the difficulties and time consumption that comes with an online-only title. The first few hours of the campaign mode start you off with small bounty missions to get to grips with the games fighting mechanics, while also emphasizing the importance of farming for items and minerals to upgrade armour, create potions and traps, all of which will be needed as the game progresses and enemies become tougher and harder to handle.

Of course the real thrill in Monster Hunter Tri comes from the simply incredible creatures that you will encounter on your adventure. Size really must be emphasized, as you will be staring down the gullet of titans, giant dinosaurs and numerous other terrifying creatures. All of the different monsters including your standard small enemies are designed really well; they all feel different, move and act in their own specific ways. This offers a lot of versatility into the combat in Monster Hunter as for the most part you will become used to predicting patterns for monster’s attacks but there is a certain level of unpredictability as they will act like wild animals fighting for survival and if this means rampaging across landscapes to avoid losing to you, this is exactly what will occur. For anyone who has seen Clash of the Titans, think of that style of action, as you group together to engage mammoth beasts and the thrill that occurs when you finally take down the monster, is really satisfying. What makes the game more so engaging, is the time limits you are put under to finish off your targets, this makes action tense, especially when it goes right down to the last moments.

I feel it is important to note that while most of us have not experienced another Monster Hunter game, those who have really make an effort to state how well this instalment improves on previous titles. Another great addition to the Monster Hunter series, are the underwater battles. A lot of the beasts you come across in Tri are part amphibious, resulting in you having to get your boots wet to get the rare items you are looking for. This offers even more versatility into combat as enemies’ move-pools change dramatically in the water, meaning new game plans need to be thought out to continue engaging an enemy that now has the home field advantage.

Technically, Monster Hunter Tri is a very good game. A special bundle is available for purchase that offers the game, the Wii Speak and most importantly, a classic controller to play with. It is possible to play with the Wiimote and Nun-chuck controllers, but it is a lot more preferable to opt for a classic controller as fiddling with camera angles is such a nuisance on the Wiimote. The game looks very good as well, the Wii has come a long way in terms of graphics and Monster Hunter Tri certainly does not disappoint with its beautiful landscapes, textures and as I have stated before, incredible monster designs. The sound is also worth mentioning as the creatures all have menacing howls and cries, all of which adds to the realism and experience. The foreboding music that alerts you to the presence of boss style enemies is also thrilling and adds to the atmosphere.

Catering for the Western market, Monster Hunter Tri is naturally a quite challenging game. The difficulty curve picks up fast once the tutorial hours are over and without careful planning, correct items, weaponry and armour, you will struggle. However, if you take your time and keep up with all the upgrades and spend some time farming, your character will soon turn into a professional hunter that is worthy of the kills you make.

Continuing with the similarities to World of Warcraft and other mass RPGs, you will find yourself doing a lot of collecting. Fortunately the pace of item customisation and weapon forgery is excellent in Monster Hunter Tri, so you will not be spending needless time hunting for that particular item you need to create a new sword of hammer. In fact and you may find this hard to believe, but the adventure of gathering in Monster Hunter Tri is actually very enjoyable and is a welcome tangent to the constant battling of giant beasts. You will find yourself spending time creating new potions as well as weapons; these can help in combat or even uncover secret locations on the world map. This kind of intertwined action and moments of peace are very well spread out here, meaning there is always something to do.

Lets now talk about the cooperative game-play in Monster Hunter Tri, truly the best thing about the game. The online matchmaking system is a little bit complicated, so it takes a bit of time to get into the online world and find your friends, but once that is all done and the admin is complete, prepare for a whole load of fun to unfold. Having four players in a party offers many different ways of tackling the games tough opponents. You can work together to set up traps and lure beasts in, or some players can distract the beasts allowing other players to sneak up from behind and unleash powerful attacks from the games larger and slower weapons like the giant hammers. Unfortunately, the development team seemed to miss out one big flaw that is present in the online game, the lack of synchronisation when tackling smaller enemies. You will notice your friends attacking thin air, a lot as for them; the smaller enemies are in different locations as opposed to what you can see in your game. This is a nuisance that can be overlooked, but it just makes you think that after all the hard work that has gone into Monster Hunter Tri, why not go that little bit further and eliminate such a ridiculous administrational error that is annoying more than anything. Fortunately all the big main enemies are synchronised fine and they are the main thrill of the online game, so it can be simply ignored.

Once again taking pages out of an MMORPG, Monster Hunter offers both voice chat recognition, and the ability to plug in a USB keyboard. You will have at your disposal a stock of phrases pre-set into the game but there is no problem in having a chat with your friends through the speak, it is just difficult to find at times, other players who are using them.

Ultimately Monster Hunter is a great game to add to our ever-growing collection of top quality Nintendo Wii titles. It offers a thrilling adventure that the likes of is yet to be shown off on the Wii, meaning for the most part, gamers probably have not experienced anything like this. Fortunately your experience will be nothing but fun, engaging and intense, exactly what you’re looking for when you engage in battle against the game’s beautiful and devastating monsters. Monster Hunter Tri is a gripping adventure, one that should not be missed.

CeX (UK) Contributor


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