DPrime Preview: Monster Hunter Tri

Originally posted on Defaultprime.

Online games don’t fare well on the Wii. Friend Codes and a lack of a real online community really hurt the system’s online potential. But Capcom plans on giving Wii owners a title with a real online component with Monster Hunter Tri, a hack and slash title. While you may not have heard of the Monster Hunter series, it has been very successful in Japan. Most of the titles have made it to Europe and North America, but the sales of the series has been less than stellar in these regions. Monster Hunter Tri, the third major installment in the series, will be hitting North America and Europe next month. The demo is available now at Gamestop for free, but many locations are requiring a pre-order to get the demo. Of course, if they are giving you a hard time, you can always just preorder it and then come back at a later date and cancel it.

The demo of Monster Hunter Tri includes eight different types of weapons. As expected, each weapon controls differently, but your strategy with each weapon changes significantly. There are some differences that are noticeable right off the bat, for instance the sword and shield combo has a weak damage output, but gives the player lots of mobility while the heavier weapons, like the Great Sword and Hammer, are slow and cumbersome but deal a hefty amount of damage. Despite many of these weapons being the slow and heavy type, each one has its own unique strategy for both attacking and defending that may not be apparent immediately. Because of the differences between each weapon, there is a steep learning curve for each one. But with enough given time, it is easy to start seeing the strengths and weaknesses of each weapon.

Monster Hunter Tri offers a good amount of choices in terms of controls, but they all seem to have their problems. There are three different control types: Free style which uses the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, Classic Style 1 which uses the Classic Controller, and Classic Style 2 which also uses the Classic Controller. The Wii Remote and Nunchuck is probably the least effective control type. Each weapon has around four or five different attacks, so when using the Wii Remote and Nuchuck you have to do a variety of tilts and motions in order to pull off moves due to the limited number of available buttons. Using these motion controllers and button combinations can get very confusing and isn’t exactly ideal when in the heat of battle. Classic Style 1 feels a bit better then Free Style, but it is just as confusing requiring you to use a variety of button combinations to pull off attacks and combos. Monster Hunter Tri is playable with both of these control schemes, but the best control scheme by far is the Classic Style 2 which maps almost all of the attacks to the right analog stick. With Classic Style 2 you completely avoid the complicated button combinations and motion controls but at the price of losing the convenient camera control found in Classic Style 1 where you control the camera with the right analog stick. There are a few other actions that are a bit clunky no matter which set up you use, but they seem like they will be easy to adapt to.

There are a variety of smaller enemies that will come across your path in Monster Hunter Tri, but the real meat of the game are hunting down the larger monsters. The demo copy has two large monsters to hunt. And while they’re fairly large in size, the two monsters in the demo are fairly small compared to some of the fights that will be in the final game. Just because these monsters are relatively small doesn’t mean they’re walk in the park though. The monsters are very aggressive and give little breathing room. Every millisecond counts in Monster Hunter Tri and, if you aren’t at the top of your game, enemies will make mince meat out of you. One problem noticeable in the demo though is with how long it takes to take down one of these beasts. They have tons of health and the fact that they will retreat to other parts of the map after some time doesn’t exactly help this issue. Fighting them at length can become a bit tedious, but there is still a nice sense of reward after you take one down. This could be resolved in the final game with the ability to team up with three other people online.

The best looking Wii games are usually ones that go for a stylistic approach. While Monster Hunter Tri doesn’t have a unique visual style, it still looks very nice despite launching in Japan six months ago. Both the character models and environments look brilliant for the Wii and during the demo there was no sign of frame rate drops despite having a good amount action on screen at once. When it comes down to it though, Monster Hunter Tri is still a Wii game.

Overall Monster Hunter Tri is looking to be a promising title for the Wii. Not only are the visuals top notch for the system, but there is quite a bit of depth in the combat thanks to the variety of weapon types available. The enemy HP seems a bit too high and the controls can be a bit clumsy, but it seems like once we get to sit down with the full game these issues are likely to pass. You can grab a demo disc of Monster Hunter Tri yourself at Gamestop, at least for what should be, free. And if you are into series like Phantasy Star Online and Diablo,  I’d highly recommend you give this demo, and Monster Hunter series, a shot.

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