The Nintendo Wii is a terrific console. I love it, and I love how it has brought so many people to gaming. But there is also something to be said for games built on the tradition of video gaming, the kind of games you can spend all night playing because you get so involved in the gameplay. Monster Hunter Tri is one of those games. Gamers should be thankful that Capcom has created such a deep, satisfying game for Nintendo’s console.
Monster Hunter Tri is best described as an action game with heavy role playing elements. As the title implies, the game centers around hunting huge “monsters” (they look far more like dinosaurs, however) which roam around large, outdoor maps. The fighting is quite simple: players only have a few attacks and maybe a block (if the weapon they are using allows this, as not all do). The levels contain numerous small enemies and even bugs, but when a large monster is found, the game is quite simple: attack the monster until it dies, and you win the quest.
Players that enjoy third person action games will probably enjoy the combat, but be warned: Monster Hunter Tri eschews a key feature of today’s third person action games: you don’t “lock on.” You have to manually move the player character to the desired location, and if a smaller monster moves away from the spot you’re standing on before your sword or axe hits the spot, well, tough luck! This can frustrate some players.
However, the reason that the game doesn’t use any auto targeting is that there are some interesting rewards for attacking large monsters in particular locations. Attack a large monster’s tail enough times, for example, and you’ll cut it off. This can have a positive affect on the battle (a monster who uses his tail for an attack may not be able to fight as effectively), while providing you with a chance to “carve,” another major part of the Monster Hunter experience.
Carving is the process of extracting parts and materials from the monsters you slay. You can “carve” from the smallest monsters to the largest behemoths, and every monster gives unique and special items that lead to the game’s better armor and weapons. You’ll need those weapons, too, because in Monster Hunter, you don’t “level up” like a traditional RPG. There are no experience points. Instead, you’ll make better and better equipment from the monsters you slay.
The game’s single player mode is fun, but Monster Hunter Tri comes alive online, with up to three other human players joining you on quests. This is where the game really shines, with as much content as some MMOs… but with no monthly fee. The value that Capcom has given gamers with the online mode is tremendous, to say the least. It supports Nintendo’s Wiispeak microphone as well as USB keyboards for communication.
As for difficulty, Monster Hunter is a game that will present a robust challenge for most players. The bigger fights require some knowledge of the monster’s attack patterns and weaknesses, and sometimes players will need to “grind” a quest many times to complete it, or even to get the best combination of rewards from the quest. Item management can get tedious, and the game doesn’t provide enough options to organize the massive assortment of junk players will collect over a few play sessions. Yet, players who manage this will be rewarded with memorable and exciting fights with massive monsters. Its a real thrill to finally take one of those boss characters down!
I would recommend Monster Hunter Tri to any experienced gamer, not just as “a game you can play on your Wii,” but as a great game to buy, period. Let’s hope that Capcom continues making Monster Hunter games on Nintendo consoles.