News Article

First Impressions: Monster Hunter Tri

Posted by Luke Westaway

Nintendo let us get to grips with Capcom's monster offering

Yesterday we were cordially invited to a guest lecture at the Science Museum in London. The subject? Monster Hunter of course; in fact, it was the very first session of 'Monster Hunter University'. In a lecture led by long-time series producer Ryozo Tsujimoto, the assembled masses were educated on topics ranging from monster ecology to hunter motivation, with the odd revelation thrown in for good measure.

What did we learn? Well, for starters we learned a good deal about the art of monster hunting. We were shown some demonstrations of monster behaviour - each species will react differently to a hunter's presence. Expect the beasts to work together to defend themselves, and for monsters to fight with each other if one should make the mistake of straying into another's territory.

Your hunter will be absurdly customisable, with a vast array of weapons and armour sets to choose from to make sure your avatar is unique. Moga village will be your main hub - from here you can collect quests, gain rewards and enhance your existing gear.

Also new to the series is 'Cha-Cha' - an assistant character who will follow you around and help you on quests. Although we've been promised that he will be genuinely useful, and will grow and become stronger alongside you, we're really hoping he doesn't fall into the 'annoying sidekick' trap.

The game will be available as one of three bundles - the game by itself, the game plus the Classic Controller Pro, and the game, Classic Controller Pro and Wii Speak. After all this information, it was finally time to get to grips with the game itself!

Without a doubt our first impression was that this is the best looking game the Wii has seen so far. Visually arresting, the draw distance lets you view entire island vistas populated with monsters, all beautifully rendered with no slowdown. The monsters themselves are the stars of the show - lovingly designed with some mind-boggling animation, from the tiny placid herbivores to the screen-filling dragons, they're simply a joy to behold.

In terms of control, not much has changed from previous instalments, which is either a good or a bad thing depending on your point of view. On the one hand, experienced players will be able to pick up the Classic Controller Pro and get right into the action, on the other hand there are some control niggles from previous versions that the developers have failed to address. Combat can feel clunky, and the glaring omission of a lock-on feature means that unless you're a pro hunter, you're going to spend a lot of time spinning the camera around manually, and your attacks will hit empty air instead of delicious monster underbelly.

Switching over to the Wii Remote/Nunchuk control option is comfortable enough, and although the same control quirks carry over, the translation is largely successful. Unless you think you'll desperately miss having the camera tied to an analogue stick you should cope fine with this alternative control setup. One bit of good news is that moving about in the all-new underwater environments is highly intuitive.

There's a split-screen multiplayer option in which two players can team up to kill monsters in a coliseum-style setting. Although it's fun in short bursts, it lacks the breadth and scale of the online mode.

Once you're online, your hunter will be able to hop in a party of four and go fight some monsters. The battles can be truly epic, and to succeed teamwork is an absolute must. We got the chance to team up with three other players and do battle with the massive underwater beast Lagiacrus. After what seemed like an age of dodging attacks and wearing down his health he fled to the beach. Duly following, we continued the battle on dry land. The fight was dynamic and never felt scripted, and there were enough close calls and surprising moments to keep everyone on their toes. Watching players celebrate a hard-won victory was enough to convince us that the online mode has massive potential, and will be an essential part of the Monster Hunter experience.

One final thing that deserves to be mentioned is that Monster Hunter Tri is hardcore in every sense of the word. Anticipate a harsh learning curve and don't expect any quick battles. Although tutorials will be present to ease new players into the series gently, picking up the finer points of combat will take some time. Sometimes this will be an entertaining process - for example learning the behavioural cues that indicate which attack a monster is about to unleash, or getting to understand the complex inventory-management system - but sometimes it'll mean wrestling to learn the ins-and-outs of a quirky control scheme.

Whether Monster Hunter Tri has the potential to be truly massive in the West is up for debate. On the one hand the Wii is crying out for some really deep games that make the most of its online and graphical capabilities. On the other hand, despite massive success in Japan, (where this instalment is the best selling third-party Wii game ever) it's by-and-large an unknown quantity over here, and whether a game this challenging and this deep will sell to a mass market remains to be seen. All eyes are currently on Nintendo, who have not yet announced whether they will be charging for the online gameplay, issuing only an ominous "discussions are ongoing" when pressed at yesterday's event.

This game is guaranteed to please the existing fanbase, and rightly so. However, if the free online gameplay is confirmed, a cunning marketing strategy and just a pinch of good luck, there's a chance - a chance - that this game could be as massive as the monsters it features.

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User Comments (43)



JebbyDeringer said:

Other than the control issues it sounds almost too good to be true. I imagine that some monsters are too difficult to take down in the early stages of the game. Can you play alone and still progress decently?



Sounds interesting. I may give it a look who knows ^^



Majora said:

How about constant and long load times? Any change from japanese version?



pixelman said:

I'm stoked for this. I'll probably pick up the Classic Controller Pro bundle. Can't wait for April!



Tails said:

Okay i have made up my Mind Forget Pokemon for now I HAVE TO GET THIS! Pokemon HeartGold and Soul Silver will be around a while i'll eventually pick them up. Unless i start getting more hours i'm done for this year on getting alot of new titles.



HipsterDashie said:

When the first whispers of this game started to arrive on our shores, I couldn't care less. Now, I'm thoroughly excited for this game. This has happened to me in the past, namely with the Professor Layton series. Hopefully, my intuition wll serve me well again.

I was wondering though, according to the article, it's not yet confirmed whether the online will be free or not. I thought that Capcom had already decided to drop membership fees in Europe in the hopes of garnering more sales?




The visuals sound outstanding. But the hardcoreness is a little bit of a turn off. However, I'm willing to give the experience a go, finances willing.

This may be one of the most engrossing games ever it worls.



nintendo87 said:

I can't wait I'm going to pre order it with the pro controller thank god for tax return



motang said:

ahhhh...I can't wait for this to come out, I am so glad it will be coming out a few months!



Varoennauraa said:

Its like Wiis Diablo...only better looking! I might even buy 4 copies of these, so I can get my friends online. Birthday presents sorted then!



Kid_A said:

The massive world and online play looks like it might be able to trump the shortcomings of the control scheme. If I have to pay for online, however, this is a no go for me.



Agent717 said:

This game is definitely on my radar. I hope they work out the "bugs" before it's released. If so, this will surely be one of the best games on the Wii.



pixelman said:

Yeah, I'm in Kid_A's boat. Probably won't buy it if you have to pay an online fee.



Sockapal said:

I'm not familiar with the monster hunter series. Do you collect them like Pokemon, or just kill them and get rewards or something? Does it log the ones you have killed? Seems intriguing, but I don't know much about it.



CanisWolfred said:

Hm...they haven't addressed the control issues? That's not good. That's not good at all. The controls were the reason why I could never get into the series in the first place. Hopefully having a second analogue stick will makes things a little easier.



Outrunner said:

It looks great but if I have to pay to play it properly I don't think I'll bother.



Kirk said:

It looks nice and all but the clunky controls and camera, and the slightly annoying constant loading between sections, means I probably just won't enjoy the game.

Controls and camera matter so much to me and I just wish someone who actually understood these things was able to tell the dev team that they really need to be fixed/improved.

Without fixing these obvious and imo very important issues with the controls and camera, the most important fundamentals of interactive videogames as far as I'm concerned, they are never going to get a gamer like me to buy their game.



Raylax said:

@Kirk: They probably really don't care whether or not a gamer like you buys their game.

Looks cool, I'll probably get it when it's out.



Chatham said:

This game will be epic... I got so sick of trying to learn Kanji to play the Japanese version... Never got to play online either...



NSBlueLighing said:

PLZ PLZ PLZ NO PAY TO PLAY!!!!!! That would turn thousands of ppl planning to but this game to not buy it! READ THIS NINTENDO U MONEY GRABBERS!!!



AVahne said:

i really see no problem at all with this game's controls and camera, for me they're perfect for this type of game



Yosher said:

I'm seriously doubting whether I'll be getting this one or not. I do need another classic controller since I only have 1, so the one that comes with this would be a great deal for me. I've never played any MH games before though, so I'm not sure if I'll like it, but.. I guess that can be said for many games. I'll wait for the reviews to roll in and maybe see if I can try it out before I buy it myself. The game does look promising though, something not many original Wii third party games seem to achieve sadly...



JebbyDeringer said:

I wish I could find a video of the first 20 minutes of gameplay or something like that because I still have no clue how the game works even the fan sites don't really explain anything. Is it an open world? Are you confined to specific missions with objectives to kill a certain monster? Can you deviate from it and kill other monsters on your way to find your target? Is you goal to kill as many monster types as possible?



Snoopy said:

i am with you jebby. there is not alot of info out there for this game. in theory it sounds amazing but i guess time will tell. the wii needs more online games.



XCWarrior said:

Great impressions of the game. Makes me want it even more. I better get some other games down soon so my backlog isn't so bad going into this.



Vinsanity said:

This article actually got me excited to play the game, though Lost Planet 2 seems to me like it makes Monster Hunter outdated. I mean, both games are about co-op Giant Monster hunting, but LP2 looks better, is for consoles with better online, and features GUNPLAY. Which is smoother than Monster Hunter's chunky, clunky combat.

Still, I feel like I gotta support Capcom, and I WAS a huge fan of Phantasy Star Online (Gamecube version, no less!), which was famous for it's chunky combat as well. I'm pretty sure I should start paying more attention to Monster Hunter 3 now...



Raylax said:

@Kirk: Because spending more money in order to please and /possibly/ pick up an extremely small fraction of extra sales (if I said people like you were 1% of their market, I'd be massively exaggerating) from nitpicky individuals is real good business strategy, am I right?



Gameday said:

Cant wait , @vinsanity i loved phantasy star online as well , now something finally out for the wii with wii speak , its all over capcom is handling there business



Discipledoctor said:

Game's looks cool. Here's hoping to some gameplay videos soon, though. Oh, and the Saints hired wizards to curse the Colts so they would play badly.



lex0plex said:

Yea DLC for sure! Also please keep online free and woldwide, no the lame friends only online that so many good wii games suffer from!

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