Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monster Hunter Tri Impression

Crazy addictive and popular over in Japan, but not getting that same solid foothold and love here in the States. The Monster Hunter franchise one could say was ahead of its time on the PlayStation 2 with limited online capabilities and footprint while the PSP just never took off enough. This known Japanese gem is now looking to remedy these issues with a solid, very solid US release with one major issue. What is the issue facing Monster Hunter Tri for Nintendo Wii, let’s take a look.

Gameplay – An action RPG that puts gamers in the role of (wait for it) a monster hunter. Hunt monsters, harvest them and build new, more powerful equipment to take on the next big ol’ bad monster. There is a main beastie in the game to drive the story but the star is just monster hunting solo or with friends (4) via Wi-Fi. One central town puts all the shops and upgrade centers front and center so it’s all about third person hacking and slashing but with strategy needed as the monsters get stronger, bigger and smarter. There are patterns to learn but these wild beasts feel real in their movement and random patterns. Gamers can pattern their hunters to suit a certain style from ranged to up close melee, there is no one way to play. The multi-player is a stand alone, non-friend code based system that makes getting online and gaming with buddies all the easier.

Graphics – Solid looking for a Wii title. The overall look feels a bit soft with great color usage and very detailed weapons and armor, all customized and looking good. The different settings from volcanic to under water look unique and there are some impressive settings to carry the great action. This is a very good looking game from customized characters to towns, NPC’s, settings and of course the monsters.

Sound – Monsters are scary sounding, sometimes. Sounds in distance help build the anticipation of a hunt while each custom weapon is fairly unique sounding. The musical score moves along the action and there are a few noteworthy tunes but in the heat of battle music can wait. A quality sounding game.

Design – Unique monsters with different weak points and movements, patterns. Environmental settings suited for the monsters including underwater hunting. A weapons/equipment based creation system that’s deep and engaging. All of these are expected in Monster Hunter and each executed beautifully but it’s the learning curve design that makes this a game worth savoring. Designing challenge that frustrates in a good way is hard and taking down strong monsters, solo or with a team, with the right equipment and planning is just plain awesome. This is why Monster Hunter rocks and is so addictive. The challenge is there and very, very rewarding.

Miscellaneous – The sleek, included, controller rocks and gives gamers looking for a more classic gaming touch options that extend beyond just Monster Hunter. The design of the controller blows away the basic Wii classic controller (or maybe it’s the sleek black coloring?).

Overall, Monster Hunter Tri is for gamers, not casual Wii gamers, but real gamer gamers who have been asking for more traditional challenge for their Wii. The level of commitment is old-school in the hours needed to take on the steeper learning curve while equipping your hunter in the proper manner. There is a ton to do as a single player but the true brilliance of Monster Hunter comes out when playing online with friends in the best online Wii experience yet. Expect to fail, expect to ready tons of menus and expect to feel a deep, deep satisfaction that the monster of choice finally falls.

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