Gaming My Way

29 Nov

Monster Hunter 3 Tri Review (Wii)

This game is almost everything I hate in a game. Grinding. Repetitive. Repeating this process for the sole purpose of getting stats high enough to do a part that’s a little bit harder. And some clunky, technical fighting. And I love this game.

See, this game does have one thing that other games of this type don’t have. Engaging, action packed gameplay. Varied gameplay too, though you wouldn’t think it at first.

The premise is simple. A fishing village has been attacked by a giant monster called the Lagiacrus. It’s up to you, as a hunter, to go kill monsters, gather materials, and create ever stronger equipment to allow you to take on harder challenges until you can do this beast in and save the village. That covers both the story and the gameplay in a nutshell.

To be more specific, the game has many quests, which are all accessed from a hub city. Offline this is Moga Village, and online it is Loc Lac City. You accept quests, complete them, and get rewards, along with what you can gather out in the wild. You then use what you gather to build new items, both consumable and gear, and use them to repeat the process. Most quests will also provide some consumable items to help you out and make sure you don’t start completely unprepared, and this is a great way to make sure you never end up completely stuck due to a lack of items.

The actual fighting is pretty hard to get the hang of though. It’s very clunky with most weapons, but this is actually a good design choice. These are big, ungainly weapons and they’re supposed to be hard to use properly. As you get a feel for each weapon (and they all play very differently), you’ll realize it’s not a clunky control scheme, but a necessary element of gameplay that each weapon has different strengths and different uses. I’m sure I’ll learn more about weaponry as time goes on, but for now, I think it’s safe to say the Sword and Shield is good for beginners who are used to swinging fast and blocking a lot, the lance is good once you learn to block reliably and are willing to step out a bit to slow but strong weapons, then the rest of the weapons really have a lot of nuance that take getting used to, but allow you to really bring the hurt quickly when you learn to use them well. Sometimes though, the lance or sword and shield is still the best choice for a battle, depending on your play style and what you go up against, so you really can’t write off the apparently simpler weapons either.

I found most of the gathering missions and quests to kill mindless minions kind of boring, I’ll admit. They’re a good primer to introduce you to the game, and necessary, but they don’t really scream action the way the rest of the game does. Fortunately, the way they’re presented, and when they come up, is done in a way that they aren’t especially onerous, as they mostly come up when you’re learning something new, or would like a way to gather materials other than redoing a boss battle over and over again. Variety is good, after all.

The battles with giant monsters, on the other hand, are excellent, and what this game is all about. Assuming you aren’t going back to an earlier battle with crazy overpowered gear, they can’t be brute forced. You have to have a pretty good idea of what you’re doing. Attacking, dodging, and guarding at appropriate times for your weapon are skills you will have to learn to be victorious. In addition to this, items can not be spammed. This is not Diablo, and when your health is low you can’t just hit potion to make it all better. Using items takes time, and in the time you can drink a potion, a boss monster can cause you to lose as much health as you gained, if not more. So, you have to either use the potion when the monster is distracted, recovering from a powerful attack, or on another screen. All of these have their own risks to weigh, such as the possibility of getting hit if you use it when the boss is distracted, or getting hit more as you attempt to retreat off screen. Knowing how the monster behaves allows you to mitigate these risks and choose the best option for the battle you’re currently involved in. The same is true for the use of stamina restoratives and items that provide buffs to you.

This is also a great looking and sounding game. Definitely one of the best looking games on the Wii. If you want to see the graphical muscle of the system, this is an excellent choice. This game has some of the best water effects I’ve seen, and probably some of the best fire effects you’ll see on this system (which are not comparable to fire effects I’ve seen elsewhere, sadly). Rendering of the terrain is also wonderful, in both an artistic sense and in the realism of much of the plant life. The character models themselves are a little flat, but they’re usually swathed in armor anyway. The monsters are rendered better than the characters, but not quite as well as the plant life, which is to be expected, but they all move very fluidly and believably.

The soundtrack is also good, with an appropriate score starting up as you begin to face off against a large, angry dragon or other such monster. Other music throughout the game is also entertaining, and at times whimsical, which is nice outside the seriousness of battle.

My only real complaint is the excessive load screens, though I suspect that’s a limitation of the Wii. Fortunately, once you’re in a hunting zone, the load screens between transitions are short and don’t really interrupt the flow of gameplay much.

A final note about offline gameplay is the use of the farm and fishing fleet. The farm can be used to generate extra materials used in making items such as potions, and the fishing fleets can finds materials used to keep the farm moving, build gear, and provide alternatives for some consumable items. Over time, you can upgrade the farm to produce more good stuff at once, and the fishing fleets can be upgraded to go further from the village to find better materials, and they both become quite helpful later on in the game. It does feel a little like book work, but it does actually add to the game and provides something nice and relaxed to do after an intense battle.

While I’ve played through the end of the offline game, I’ve only played a little bit online, and not with other players as I don’t have a USB keyboard or Wii Speak. Still, the online game is a nice change of pace, as you have different resources available to you, and it is also a bit more challenging. You lose the ability to produce materials using the farm and fishing fleet, but you gain the ability to purchase some of those directly from shops as well. You also are provided more resources at the start of each mission, ostensibly so everyone in the group gets some, but this also helps keep your item usage from your personal stash down if you play single player, which helps offset the lack of other resources you gain for item making. Aside from that, the game is harder online, and, though I haven’t made it there yet, once you hit hunter rank 31 you gain access to high rank missions, which are supposed to be much harder and also offer the opportunity to craft better gear. In addition, there are events open to all players to get special items, and two bosses that can only be battled online. It’s definitely worth your while to check out online even if you only play single player.

All in all, this game is a great package. Even if you aren’t usually into the whole deal of doing quest after quest to gain in power, this one might be worth checking out. And if that is your thing, you will definitely want to pick this one up.

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