Some Wii gamers feel that they don’t have a lot to play. Sure, they have “____ Party” games and Mario games, but there’s a contingent that feels that they don’t have any hardcore games that make lesser men weep and Wii-mote flailing minigame collectors stare blankly in confusion.
Monster Hunter Tri attempts to step into this void. The series is hugely popular in Japan, but has only been scantily supported here in the States until now. Armed with the new Classic Controller Pro, Nintendo and Capcom made a major push toward the core gamer with this release. Is it a worthy enterprise, or is it not worth it?
First of all, it’s rare to see a Wii game that looks this good. It’s not up to the graphics on a 360 or a PS3, obviously, but it looks excellent. You’re able to pick out every object when you need to pick them out. People and monsters animate well. Your attacks and weapons are suitably threatening, and when standing on a cliff overlooking the world you’re wandering in, you can’t help but pause for a moment to admire the view. Great job all around.
Also, the audio is top-shelf. Monsters have their own unique calls and noises they make which provide vital clues to their attacks and movements. It’s pretty neat because you start understanding what that critter offscreen is screaming about naturally without having to see it making certain moves. You’re able to anticipate attacks and make your moves accordingly. The music also swells dramatically when it needs to be dramatic and stays out of the way at other times. Great work.
The controls, however, could use a little love. Oh, sure, movement is easy, and aside from accidentally bumping a button or two here and there and wasting valuable items, I didn’t have complaints with the majority of the controls. However, in this game, a lock-on feature is vital. More than vital. It’s outrageous that it’s not there.
Not being able to focus on your enemy becomes a huge problem in big mobs. I’ve been in situations with 6 or 7 Jaggis (the cannon fodder carnivores of Monster Hunter Tri) and 2 Great Jaggis (a much, much tougher breed), and not being able to pick out your attackers means that you end up flailing at the air quite a bit and desperately trying to swing around the right analog stick to move the camera in a way that will enable you to face the right direction. It’s needlessly frustrating, and something that I hope they put in the next game.
Aside from that complaint, though, I had very little to whine about. Killing monsters and harvesting their organs to make better things is a lot of fun, and going on ore runs where you go into dangerous caves all for some valuable raw weapons materials is also extremely enjoyable.
In fact, I would compare the whole experience to Diablo in the very best way possible. You’re not inundated with numbers unless you want to be. You’re constantly seeing new things that you want. You’re always finding fun new items to try out. Your environment keeps on changing so there’s always something new to see. There are so many different ways to play that I’ve only scratched the surface of all the cool stuff you can do.
I was concerned that I was going to find the world of Monster Hunter intimidating. There are 10 games available in the series by now, and I thought I would have difficulty jumping in without reading reams of text. You know how it is: Sometimes sequels make you feel like an outsider. “What, you didn’t already KNOW that the Great Baddening destroyed most of Arthdalien and the Knight of Legend destroyed the great Jewel of Ira’diel but later succumbed to its power during the Fifth Cylidon Age? What are you, ignorant?”
I didn’t get that feeling in Monster Hunter Tri. I felt like I was just stepping off the boat into a new world that was already established to some degree, but everything is explained to you quickly and neatly. There’s no ginormous backstory to all this, and you’re not spoon-fed piles of information either. Everything they give you is in tasty little chunks with lots of character. Veterans may not enjoy having everything explained to them, but fortunately, the tutorials are few and are easily read through without wasting too much time.
There’s also a formidable online portion of the game, a rarity for a title on a Nintendo console. For the purposes of this review, I didn’t have an opportunity to try the online parts, but most everyone who talks about it speaks favorably of it. It seems well-supported, with Capcom always adding new quests and new information.