Monster Hunter Tri hands-on report: too hardcore for Wii gamers?

Hands-on with Monster Hunter Tri at Cockatoo Island, Sydney

Monster Hunter Tri is an important game for Nintendo – an exclusive and hardcore action RPG with a massive Japanese following, but after trialling it at a recent Nintendo event, I’m not convinced that it will be an altogether popular game here.

In short – it’s just not accessible enough. Nintendo is claiming it’d take around 100 hours to accumulate enough loot to be able to defeat the more difficult monsters, and I’m just not sure many people will be able to achieve that landmark.

When it takes some 50 minutes to kill the harder creatures, your patience and commitment to a game will be sorely tested. Challenging games are good, but Monster Hunter Tri doesn’t really let up – it’s relentless from start to finish, and I imagine a lot of people will simply give up long before everything in the game is completed.

Monster Hunter Tri

The game controls are a little clunky, too. The heavier weapons take an age to swing, and while they might pack a greater punch than the lighter weapons, they’re just frustrating to use.

Monster Hunter Tri also introduces swimming and water-based monsters for the first time in the series. I wish they didn’t. The monsters are difficult enough already that struggling with the swimming controls just adds another unnecessary layer of difficulty to the game that pushes it over the “entertaining” category.

The good news is the game really is gorgeous – it’s by far the most visually impressive Wii game to date. The world really seems to breathe, and although there’s a fair loading time between each area you visit, there’s also a real sense that the world you’re in is alive – the consistency across the game is compelling.

The various monsters you’ll be fighting are rendered equally well. For the most part based on dinosaurs, the creatures are suitably epic in size, and when they do finally fall down, you’ll have a heck of a feeling of accomplishment.

Monster Hunter Tri

There’s also a wealth of customisation options. No two characters will be the same, with a wide variety of weapon and armour choices to choose between, and if you don’t like what you’ve got, you can always craft something different.

It’s easy to see why this series is so successful – anyone with the patience to sink their teeth into it are set for a rewarding and immersive experience. Online play helps, bringing a decidedly MMO-flavour to the experience that, as an added bonus, won’t cost a cent to use (unlike in Japan), and there is a definite thrill in taking on the bigger beasts as a team.

Nintendo is also pricing the game fairly, and bundling it with the new (and ultra-comfortable) Classic Controller Pro for under $100. With Nintendo’s weight behind the game, Monster Hunter Tri should find itself a faithful community in Australia. It’s just that the casual Wii players are going to be put right off with this one.

Monster Hunter Tri

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Matthew Sainsbury

GamePro Australia

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