April and May this year is a two month streak of Capcom dominance. We have Lost Planet 2 in May to look forward to. For April, we’ve had Final Fight Double Impact and Super Street Fighter 4. Discussions on the last two are surely coming to the site and the podcast. For now, let’s dive right in to our Monster Hunter Tri review.
It would appear that Capcom is gaining a steady foothold in the west for their Monster Hunter series, a series that has one of the highest fan followings in Japan. Since the release of the original Monster Hunter on the Playstation 2, the series has had somewhat of a cult following. With any luck, Monster Hunter Tri will bring some new blood into the world of Monster Hunter and keep them there for any future installments.
Upon starting a new character, you can choose gender, face type, voice type, add some cool scars or a beard, give yourself a name and jump right into some major monster ass-kicking… sort of. Since Monster Hunter is a new thing to Nintendo consoles, it would seem that Capcom has deemed it necessary to have a tutorial phase at the beginning. While this will greatly help those new to the series, veterans looking to sink their teeth into their beloved franchise may be a little bit bored with the game’s method of holding your hand all through the beginning.
Compared to the last Monster Hunter release, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on the PSP, Monster Hunter Tri is very slow to get into. With Freedom Unite, the option to jump right into multiplayer questing, single player questing, and just doing whatever the heck you want, was available right from the beginning. Tri features a new mode of offline grinding for materials and money in an area called the Moga Forest. Previously in Monster Hunter games, you spent your time between quests in a village to rest, buy items, create weapons and armor, and meet up with questing partners. The only way to leave the village was to initiate a quest which would take you to fight the monster of your choosing in a predetermined zone. Moga Forest is available without initiating a quest and the monsters available in it vary from day to day (in game time). The free-roaming hunts of Moga Forest taking on the big monsters is slow coming, though. Because Moga Forest is one of the reasons for the game’s tutorial. It teaches you how to hunt and gather resources in the forest. Moga Forest hunting supplies you with Resource Points which allow a hunter to utilize the services of the village, such as the farm.
Eventually, you will unlock the ability to take on the iconic Monster Hunter quests. These quests have a specific monster to kill, and as you complete the quests you are given at the beginning, you unlock more to try, each with new monsters and new areas to explore. From this, you get into the real meat and potatoes of this game. Moga Forest can have some tough monsters in it eventually, sure, but some monsters are still found only in their respective quests. In addition to killing the monster and carving materials from its body, quests also offer rewards, which are usually more monster materials that you can use to create new weapons and armor for yourself. Don’t expect to get everything you need to build a new great sword or bowgun from one successful hunt, however. You’re encouraged to fight the same monster multiple times, it is very rare, if not completely impossible to find every piece of the required materials to create a full set of armor in one quest reward screen.
The biggest treat in Tri is the online mulitplayer mode. Yes, that’s correct. A Wii game with a bearable online system. There are no friend codes, your friends list is handled within the game, and the connection is reliable and stable. Once given the opportunity, you can hop online and bring your character that you created for single player with you. Your character and its equipment from the single player mode carries over to the online mode and vice versa. So, if you’re ever having trouble in single player with a monster, perhaps you can take on the same quest online and get help with it. The game hosts several servers, broken down into Open servers for any hunter rank, and rookie and elite servers for low and high rank hunters, respectively. You can join a lobby with other players, or host your own. Lobbies hold a maximum of 4 hunters, and you can even attempt these online quests by yourself. If anything, Monster Hunter Tri is a must-see for this revolutionary Wii online service.
One cautionary note, however. Monster Hunter is notorious for its difficulty. There are no selectable difficulty modes. The monsters and the quests start out easy and get more difficult as you advance in rank. The monsters in this game don’t pull any punches. If they have an opportunity to beat you senseless and make it look incredibly unfair, they will do it, and do it often. Throw in the fact that while fighting, you must keep your weapon sharp, your stamina high, your HP high, and yourself out of trouble with constant blocking and/or evading, and you can have some very stressful uphill battles. Don’t get discouraged though, once you do bring down that troublesome beastie, it feels oh, so sweet to wear its skin as a suit of armor. Bonus points to wear that armor against the same monster you used to make it and say something fucked up like “I’m wearing your mother, asshole. Time to die!”
One of the game’s shortcomings is the limitations of the Wii. Even with the Wii component cables that allow the game to be played in 480p, it looks like a PS2 game at best. Regardless, Capcom has created some fierce-looking baddies and beautiful landscapes with what they were given. However, compared to Freedom Unite again, Tri has a drastically smaller roster of monsters to fight and a very slim catalogue of weapons and armor. Even with how great Tri is, fans of the series might find that this not anywhere close to a replacement of Freedom Unite.
Monster Hunter Tri comes in two purchasing options. One of them is just the game itself for $49.99. The other is $59.99 and comes bundled with a Wii Classic Controller Pro, which is highly recommended if you don’t have one. The shape and feel of this controller is the only way to play; don’t fall for that “you can play with a Wii remote and a nunchuck” bullshit.