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Monster Hunter Tri: Is the Third Time the Charm?

Brad Gallaway's picture

Monster Hunter Tri Screenshot

Started playing Monster Hunter Tri the other today. I won a free copy in a contest via Twitter (Thanks GameZone!) so I had it on hand, otherwise I probably wouldn't have gotten around to it until summer, or even later.

Why not? Well, if You've been keeping an eye on retail shelves, you might have noticed that there are an absurd amount of games coming out lately. I'm not talking about off-season shovelware stuff, I'm talking big-name, big-recognition titles. With all of these things to play and review, the usual slow period enabling me to go through the backlog and catch up on older things just hasn't materialized. I really hope things cool off over the next few months, though. If this pace keeps up and my backlog keeps growing at its current rate, I'll be able to sustain my gameplay habits until sometime in 2024 without ever buying another game.

Anyway, Monster Hunter Tri.

Back when Monster Hunter first appeared on the PlayStation 2, I can remember seeing one of the first trailers for it a few months before the game hit. At the time, it was utterly mindblowing and promised potential that players had only dreamed of. Even today, the trailer still looks extremely exciting and full of action.

Unfortunately, the reality did not match up to the level of action in that trailer. Stiff controls, a very steep difficulty curve and heavy emphasis on grinding for resources flew in the face of the tone set in that trailer, and I quit the game in disappointment pretty quickly. That said, the trailer never left my mind and I would often wonder when developers would tackle something like it.

Many have come close, or at least skirted it. Shadow of the Colossus is one that shares the scale, although not quite the same level of balls-out-ish-ness that's implied. (And don't get me wrong, I loves me some Shadow of the Colossus. This isn't a criticism.) Closer to what I was craving was Lost Planet, oddly enough, also from Capcom. The scale was great, it added mecha to the mix, and in general I was pretty satisfied with it, although it did not have the same fantasy- medieval tone. Despite these titles and a few others that have similar themes, none quite scratched the itch that the idea of Monster Hunter instilled in me. It's kind of absurd when you think about it, since the game that inspired this desire didn't even live up to the promise itself.

Now we come to Tri, the most recent (third) game in the series.

Despite having a deep suspicion that it was going to be more of the same, I was thrilled when I won the Twitter contest. I immediately began hoping against hope that Capcom had revamped the formula enough to win me over and finally provide the monster hunting experience I've been after. After putting in a few hours today I can say that it definitely feels better than it was, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm headed towards disappointment again.

Putting all issues about the Wii's hardware aside, the game still relies heavily on menus and resource procurement/management. For something seemingly all about giant swords and enormous reptiles, there's an awful lot of emphasis put on collecting things and leveling up equipment. Don't get me wrong, I'm no stranger to this stuff, but this all strikes me as a bizarrely disparate relationship between the reality of the game and its image. My eyes are telling me that this should be a high-octane, intense and action-packed title, but my hands are telling me that I'm mining for iron ore, farming small monsters for their pelts, and searching for rare mushrooms.

I certainly haven't given up yet and I will say that it was an enormous relief to get past the extended tutorial phase and start doing quests proper… tackling groups of large lizards and finally getting knee-deep in some combat was extremely welcome even if the action still feels completely stilted and slow. However, I'm starting to wonder how long it'll be before I hit a wall and need to straight-up grind in order to progress. I desperately want to like this game and finally be able to enjoy the kind of adventure Monster Hunter eternally promises, but I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, I'm headed for another heartbreak again.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Wii  
Developer(s): Capcom  
Series: Monster Hunter  
Genre(s): Role-Playing   Online/Multiplayer  

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Well this certainly leaves a

Well this certainly leaves a huge and tremendous rift of deference between us, considering I could never (happily) play SotC on account of the stale gameplay, inhibiting sense of loneliness and hours of wandering between each fight, none of it crucial or imperative to your development. Having ace'd much of MH's more intricate and challenging aspects I can say that I've seen ridiculous things far beyond the scale of that trailer, and experienced times when organizing menus all day to prepare for any kind of thrill or horror I could possibly receive the bad end of was sometimes enough to satisfy me.

The reality isn't just hiding behind bushes or running from dragons. It's stealthily remaining out of their amphibious sight based on their living habits, luring them onto the land from the ocean when you and three other allies are on a slither of health so you can capture them before the breathe leaves your body. It's hunting a creature only to be interrupted by the most foul machination of nature, a dragon many HR ranks above your current quest as it charges at you spitting meteors of fire whilst you attempt distracting it from the area so your friends can kill the lesser, but still evil boss.

It's about riding the edge of your health metre making your friends almost go into a seizure of panic from the prospect of your death failing or reducing their quest, as you tech roll through swift, bountiful and agile tail swipes from a creature many times your size through pattern reading and sharp reflex. Then, only then do you drag the remains of the creature back to base to forge powerful weapons based on its weaknesses as a trophy.

If you do not like long text discussions with your allies about strategy, punishing but fair gameplay and boss battles which in direct conflict with SotC will involve hectic aggression from enemies which still retain their danger level even when you have them figured out, you... Really won't ever like this. It is full of action, repeated boss battles which start moments after you leave camp, and these boss fights all will last perhaps long enough in total to eclipse all the grinding you'll ever do should you get past the hour or two needed to be there. But it'll take a while, if you did. And you will die. And it will be the fault of your strategy, how your gear matches their weaknesses, your choice of weapon, your timing, and team synergy.

And then you'll come back and complain about it on an internet blog anyway because it has no voice acting. Christ.

From my perspective your post seems like an elaborate troll, or at least sets me into rage mode, particularly when you measure it against casually lauded, easy, and yet still horribly clunky and slow games like SotC.

You run faster in MH. You roll faster in MH. The framerate is faster than in SotC. Bosses appear two or three screens away from camp on their respective quests at most, and don't take two hours of running around on some clunky ass horse to find.

Nothing you do in MH feels arbitrary. You start with 100 health and 100 stamina. It can only go to 150 - through armour buffing! And no, there are a limited amount of slots and no one add on or armour piece gives you a skill. They each give you various points in each skill, and you have to measure up to 10 combined in a skill to get it working. There's shitloads of complicated strategy in armour synergy. Get a bad mix and no skills will activate as none mark up to 10. Planning your equipment is not a time investment thing! It is literally like trying to get as many sides as possible on a mixed up rubix cube. And that takes brain power.

"But it was about how you tackled the Colossi, not the clunkier than MH mechanics - oh wait my complaint is void!" You should know this is just you not putting in the effort to get to one of the bigger dragons right, because just like in SotC it's all about the method. And the fights are longer, more tenacious, difficult and off the hook than SotC's will ever be. Any video you look at of either game's boss battles do not do the reinforced feeling of being only human any justice.

Climbing around on the pubic hair of some horribly slow and stupid creature which takes five years to drop a sword and hardly displays a spatial affirmation of your presence until you find the sign is on the hairy flying Steelix' crotch, then stabbing it repeatedly while the PS2 chokes on the two colours it's using is not a test of strategy or timing!

You'd probably like Heavy Rain btw.

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