Monster Hunter Tri review
A franchise that has been huge in Japan but hasn’t really hit its stride with North American audiences, Monster Hunter gives gamers the opportunity to hunt a variety of creatures, harvesting their carrion for resources and cash in order to get bigger and better weapons and armor, as well as other items and boosts. While the game has sold like gangbusters in the Land of the Rising Sun, its impact stateside has been low key at best. However, Capcom is looking to shift that with the latest title in the Monster Hunter series, Monster Hunter Tri for the Nintendo Wii.
A noted effort by the publisher to make the game more appealing to western audiences, Monster Hunter Tri is the best entry to the series yet, boasting fun gameplay, deep mechanics, and a great online component that lets you team up with friends to take down the game’s assorted cadre of beasties. While there are some interface issues and the controls aren’t as fluid as you’d hope, there’s still a lot to love in this entry to the Wii’s third-party library.
Monster Hunter Tri’s controls bank heavily on the Classic Controller (considering that some copies are bundled with the new Classic Controller Pro for only 10 bucks more), and it definitely shows. This is the preferred way to experience the game, as the Wii-mote/Nunchuck combo comes across as gimmicky and cumbersome by comparison. Using the Classic Controller is a perfect fit for the game, though inexplicably the game does opt to use the Wii-mote’s pointing functions for a few odd gameplay elements. For example, in order to add a new monster to your monster list, you must open your list, point to a monster on the screen and drag them to the corner of the screen to add them to your roster. Surely, the game’s developers could’ve found a workaround that would allow you to use the Classic Controller to perform the same activity, but unfortunately you are saddled into this cumbersome mechanic.
This brings up the overall issues with the game’s controls. Granted, while the Classic Controller configuration feels comfortable for the most part, there are still some issues to be had here even using the ideal settings. Combat feels generally slow and lacks the speed and fluidity present in similar action games, and some attacks and moves take a while to respond. Combos can leave you open to attacks upon completion. Additionally, taking potions will require your character to stay stationary for a period of time. This might be all well and good for the multiplayer element, where you’ll have other players to take attacks while you heal yourself, it can be very frustrating when playing alone. Though this might be a way to get the player to react more strategically to monsters when attacking and only move in for the kill when the moment is perfect, it can still feel clunky.
The interface is another sore spot for Monster Hunter Tri. In order to access your inventory and journals, you’ll have to pull up and weed through several screens to get to what you are looking for. Considering that the game is still active when you are doing this, it can be an easy way to get killed when in the heat of battle.
However, those quibbles aside, there is still a lot to love in Monster Hunter Tri - and I mean a lot. The game is extremely deep, giving you ample quests and enemies to destroy and cultivate. You’re able to not only harvest resources from beasts in order to better your seaside community, but you can also harvest items that you find along your journey that will allow you to farm, create potions and other items, mine minerals to create new weapons and armor or even get trophies to adorn your weaponry and house.
The game boasts a pretty engaging multiplayer component as well. You’re able to partake in some arena missions with friends should you both be playing on the same console (your character data can be transferred to a Wii-mote in order to move it easily to your buddy’s system), and by going online you can team up with three other hunters in order to take down some of the more serious beasties. The game supports Wii Speak, allowing you to chat with friends and coordinate the combat, and the result feels very solid online.
Graphically, the game is one of the best looking titles on the Wii. The character models boast some fine details, and the diverse environments look great. However, the real winners here are the monsters, with each species featuring their own movement and personality. The animations look great, and the whole game unfolds at a very smooth clip.
Monster Hunter Tri is a great effort from the team at Capcom, and boasts some excellent features for any Wii owner. Newcomers and hardcore fans alike will find some great adventuring here, even if the experience isn’t a perfect one.