The Monster Hunter franchise has been one of Capcom's more successful, recent titles in Japan. The series has made its way to the States in the form of numerous incarnations, with the first hitting in 2004 for the PlayStation 2. Since then there have been about ten installments in Japan, with only three of the sequels coming to America on the PlayStation Portable. Knowing all this it's kind of strange that Monster Hunter 3 has hit the Nintendo Wii, but frankly this one has the capability to endear itself to American gamers.
In case you haven't played a Monster Hunter title (they wouldn't be alone) all you really need to know is that the game is all about hunting monsters, if you couldn't figure that out. Through online and offline modes the franchise offers players the chance to track down big prey, kill it, and manufacture a nice hat, piece of armor, or weapon. There are quests involved and generally speaking the world is often robust and expansive. All these qualities live on in Tri.
Let's just say that the story in Tri isn't going to win any awards or turn any heads. Players basically step into the shoes of warriors that find themselves in a seaside village in need of some monster cleanup. From here on out it's basically a questing ye shall go. Luckily there is a faction of The Guild here that doles out quests like candy on Halloween. There are different levels of quests that can be assigned and many aren't available until much later in the game. There's not much story involved in these quests, however, and they essentially boil down to hunt this, trap that, or kill the target. The only quests that do pertain to progression of the game are main ones which are unavoidable.
The meat and potatoes of Monster Hunter Tri is the gameplay. While previous iterations of the franchise more or less dropped players in the middle of nowhere with little more than a weapon and confounding pieces of information, Tri really changes that. As players head out and explore the game's various regions, it's worth noting that the game eases newcomers into things. The strategies necessary to hunting start out small and get more complex as prey progresses. There are even underwater monsters, beasts that like hotter environments, and flying things to take into consideration.
One thing worth noting in Tri is the fact that players really have to take in their environment, study the monster in question, and take care in how to approach each situation. Running in blindly and swinging one's sword is the quickest way to wind up dead in this game, and if that happens three times it means the failure of a quest. This creates a fine balance between strategy and action that really separates this title from others on the Wii (or other consoles for that matter). Players need to use their brains in order to be successful in the campaign.
There's no gaining of levels in this game per say. Instead, Tri utilizes a system that rewards gamers for killing monsters and collecting various bits and pieces from the animal. Forging powerful equipment is essential to success in this title and upgrading that equipment is even more necessary. Doing so allows the better quests to open up and expands upon the game immensely.
The single player campaign isn't exactly the most compelling thing in the world, but it's finely executed and rewarding enough to keep you strung along. Clocking in at around 25 hours, the game really offers a lot of content with varied monsters and a solid feeling or progression. There's enough gameplay variety to keep things from getting too stale, and the inclusion of an assistant AI character is definitely a plus. The true experience of this game, however, comes when players take it online.
Monster Hunter Tri includes one of the greatest online components available for any Wii title. Up to four players can team up and go out on the hunt. This system is set up via a lobby, instead of friend code, so it's much more welcoming to meeting random people. Once the party is assembled and the hunt begins, the challenge is scaled to match the inclusion of so many players, rarer items drop, and the world expands to offer even more customization. There are more quests to take part in online as well, and it's really where the most entertaining part of Tri resides.
As far as the graphics are concerned Monster Hunter Tri is an impressive title for the Wii that really utilizes the system's strengths. The designs in this game truly stand out with some impressive monster renderings and animation. The beasts get huge in later parts of the game and they are scaled nicely against the main character. As the player unlocks more armaments the design changes quite a bit, and nothing skips a beat. The environments are attractive as well and there's a great deal of variety. The only real downside to this game is the fact that some annoyingly long load times pause the action, but even that is easy to overlook. The soundtrack is almost as impressive with great musical scores that help keep the atmosphere going strong. Decent sound effects abound as well and some of the monster effects truly stand out.
Monster Hunter Tri is an impressive title for the Wii that doesn't disappoint. The game grabs hold of players from the start and immerses them in an expansive world. The collect-a-thon mentality is addicting and players will be compelled to quest just for better equipment and items. Online is the real star of Tri though and there's so much to do it's not even funny. This should be considered an essential Wii title for fans of the series, newcomers looking for action, or anyone endeared to games such as Phantasy Star Online.
Monster Hunter Tri is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Use of Alcohol, and Violence.