Monster Hunter Tri Review

Go get your bowgun – the game’s afoot. VGD takes a swing at the most in-depth and uncompromising Wii release yet.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, April 23, 2010


Friday night ‘little known fact’ time! The average U.S. Ranger carries up to 50 pounds of combat gear, which translates to about 22 of our homely British kilograms, or roughly the same weight as these. Roman legionnaires had it even tougher: some historians put their kit in the region of a spine-warping 93 pounds. Keep these sobering statistics in mind next time that recruitment guy tries to wow you with talk of exotic climes, paid accommodation and generous pensions.

Keep them in mind, too, next time you look at a Monster Hunter Tri screenshot and feel inclined to say something like ‘there’s no way he could lift a lance that big’. Capcom’s renowned fauna-bashing epics do veer a little on the exaggerated side when it comes to so-called ‘handheld’ weapons, but ask yourselves this: what’s more faithful to military reality, hearing the sinews creak in a warrior’s forearms as she hefts half a ton of hide-bound thighbone? Or being able to skip across miles of broken rock in scorching heat with sixty billion rifle bullets and a Predator in your pocket, arriving at the frontline fresh enough to nail split-second reloads and hold a scope level?

Some may curl their lips at those fridge-sized shields and chitinous folding siege bows, but I’ve always found the franchise’s preposterous chunkiness to be its strongest attraction. Faster paced action offerings like Devil May Cry 4 or God of War 3 go heavy on the particle effects and slow-mo, but look close and you’ll find there’s never all that much physicality involved: impacts sheer seamlessly through enemies, arrows are shrugged off like so many raindrops and poundings from titanic elemental beings elicit only a dutiful stagger and a geyser of rather over-compensatory gore.

Monster Hunter Tri, by contrast, at least attempts to recreate what it might actually feel like to smack something with a hammer the width of a manhole cover, and not simply for shits and giggles either. Fail to take your malachite sword’s weight into account when lunging at a grumpy dinosaur, and you’ll probably miss; miss, and you’ll probably be too busy recovering your balance to avoid getting T-Rexed in the face.

It’s important to underline such punishing nuances because surprisingly few dabblers associate this series with tactical thought, confusing its high entry threshold with a lack of finesse. Many first-time Hunters muscle their way through to a fight, struggle with the notoriously unresponsive manual camera, get the stuffing knocked out of them and conclude, savagely, that the game is a ponderous, superficial button-masher with a high element of dumb luck. In fact, it’s one of the best assembled third-person combat experiences out there, set in its ways and very heavy on its feet, but calculating (and thus rewarding) to a degree Kratos and chums can only dream of.



It’s also a game that shies refreshingly away from the over-stimulatory, movie-ish thirty-seconds-of-fun formulas of other, more populist action titles, despite the urgency with which Nintendo’s marketeers are shoving it into mainstream headspace. Partly that’s because you can’t, as noted, simply get in close and hold the attack button till the world explodes, but mainly it’s because Monster Hunter’s conception owes as much to Harvest Moon and Phantasy Star Online as prior Capcom sabre-rattlers like Onimusha.

Play time – and rest assured, there’s plenty of that – is split once again between the deserts, forests and caves that supply not only hunt targets but also a vast assortment of raw materials (of course, one generally equals the other), and a hub village where you temper the weapons, shape the armour and concoct the many, many items that (might) enable you to come off best in an encounter with a crocodile made of magma.

19 Responses to “Monster Hunter Tri Review”

  1. Setanga says:

    More proper game descriptions, less assumptions about the platform’s owners, fracker. The difficulty thing can be said about all current platforms going by what’s popular these days anyway. Also, the game’s worth at least 9/10. Learn how to play.

    • And which other Western-released Wii game would you call remotely in the same league as Monster Hunter Tri, difficulty-wise? :)

      Not that my comments on the difficulty threshold were directed exclusively at Wii owners, anyway. Try re-reading the first page.

  2. Xela says:

    Lol @ the graphics remarks. Oh no, Wii haz no gewd gamez. Oh no, Wii got a gewd game, why isn’t on teh 360 to have teh high rez, those sell outs wanted teh Wii install base damn them, damn! What are you, 12?

    Maybe you should buy yourself a decent PC then, because it shames both of the so called HD systems. That or stfu and go back to playing your Modern Warfare 2 at 600p sub-HD resolutions, bozo.

  3. Boobie says:

    I just find it suspect when reviews of such heavily involved, unique games, are thrown out so quickly after release, with no custom screenshots of videos to speak of, at least from professional outlets like Kikizo that should have capture equipment for all systems. It makes me think they barely played it and just base the review on little playtime and some google-based research of what fans think, with a dose of sarcastic remarks about the platform chosen in this case. The text of the review doesn’t make me feel that the reviewer actually played it for any length of time, at least to defeat the lagiacrus which is really the end of the tutorial phase and the first true challenge as it’s where the main storyline ends.

    • I’ve played this for about 20-odd hours, have got the little goblin bloke with me but have not, as yet, managed to kill old Laggy, though I have beaten higher ranked monsters online (with the help of more experienced acquaintances, of course!). The brute wyverns are bastards, especially the one with the big chin, but then I was trying to take it down from the front with a pretty pathetic bowgun so you reap what you sow, I guess.

      Doubtless some will have played this for longer – it’s been out for almost a year in Japan already – but I’m quite comfortable with my conclusions, thanks.

  4. Badumtish says:

    The controls with the remote + nunchuck are excellent, I have a CCPro but only use it for Tatsunoko vs CAPCOM. The inventory isn’t used on the fly so that it’s on 2 doesn’t matter at all, and you don’t tend to use items in the heat of action, you first get safe, so being on 1 is again more than workable. You don’t both use items and do another action at the same time with that hand in any case. The rest controls make up for such minor set backs with intuitive shortcuts, like tilting the remote left or right and then pressing the minus button to do the longsword’s slash-then-dodge-to-that-direction move. Or tilting right then pressing A for the sword & shield’s shield bashing moves, as the shield is on the hunter’s right hand. Anyway, this is the best MH yet with beautiful visuals, great controls, FINALLY new monsters and armors and locations, and many control improvements for ALL the weapons and the monster AI and behaviour and hitboxes and balance. 10/10!

    • I find the combinations much easier to perform and more precise on a button, but yes, the remote and nunchuk solution is adequate. Fair point re. the inventory not being an on-the-fly thing, but again, it’s just so much less awkward with the classic controller or Pro.

  5. Four different comments, one IP.

    Pick which one you want to keep, Badumtish/Setanga/Boobie/Xela, and I’ll delete the rest. Feedback is always welcome, but a basic level of courtesy is expected.

  6. Xela says:

    We’re friends and connect from the same university connection, bozo.

  7. Badumtish says:

    Badumtish! With what we’re gone and you can carry on fooling your viewership, we don’t visit the site regularly, just checked it out via metacritic since it was a new review added and MH reviews from clueless authors are always entertaining. Thanks for the entertainment, as little as it lasted :)

  8. *clap clap*

    Fantastic work chap(s). Surely the most thorough hatchet job ever recorded. My eyebrows are scorched.

    I’ll leave your comments – and your IP – active for posterity. Have a nice night now.

    EDIT. Actually, I’ll retract the rancor a little. Spamming an IP is dickish behaviour (as you may have guessed, I’m not the slightest bit convinced you’re separate people), but you clearly know the game well and have made informative comments. So please carry on :)

  9. LowEnergyCycle says:

    Some people are just snotty pricks.

    I thought this review was informative and well-written, and I very much enjoyed reading it. After comparing with a few other reviews, it’s certainly convinced me to buy my first Monster Hunter game.

    So there. Bloody students… ;)

    • Kind of you to say so, mate, thanks :) Hope you enjoy the game. There’s a pretty reasonably priced official bundle which includes a PRO controller, I believe.

      It’s always a shame when people take the mickey with IPs, but at least Xela/Badumtish/whoever actually had some points to make (unlike some of the posters in our God of War 3 review thread, for instance).

  10. Kihto says:

    Nice review, I already have the game and hope many others will get it. hoping your review will encourage them to buy it, personally i think this game should get a 9-10 though but this was a good read.

    For any American players who want someone to add, my IGN is right where my name is. i’m not that good since i am still learning switch axe on CCPro(it was easier on wiimote-nunchuck) but i’m getting better

  11. Brush says:

    May well pick it up, with the controller.

    There’s also a bundle with Wiispeak – i’m wondering if this is any good? (my Wii is a bit neglected of late so Wiispeak has passed me by).

    …Can you save little text phrases to bring up like you could in PSO on dreamcast? if so…bringing up text saying ‘leg it!’ might suffice.

  12. beranmee says:

    I bought MHT before reading this review. There are things that i agree with and things that I don’t, but you’ll find that in most reviews you read.
    With regards to the graphics i found that once my wii was connected using an AV Component cable things improved.
    For Wii owners who are on the fence i’d recommend taking the plunge, if you put the effort in you’ll find that Monster Hunter is a very rewarding game.
    For those who are upset that it didn’t hit the 360/PS3, you’ll have to wait for Monster Hunter Frontier.

  13. sarah says:

    Nice review!

  14. Jailen says:

    HHIS I shdoul have thought of that!


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