I’d never dipped my hand into the Monster Hunter universe before this game, but to my understanding, it’s a HD port of the Wii’s Monster Hunter Tri, with a refined structure and a large amount of new content. However, for a first time player, it was…well, it was actually pretty overwhelming.
I have a lot of things to say about what’s wrong with the start of the game, and since this is the start of the review, doesn’t it make sense to start here as well? It throws you in the deep end with little to no explanation about a lot of things, and you’re left to guess/Google a ridiculous amount of things until you can figure out just what you’re meant to be doing. However, get through the first three or four hours and you’ve gotten something which is actually pretty special on the inside.
You slowly sneak up on a large dragon, until you notice that it’s got it’s back turned to you for a reason – it’s feasting itself on the indigenous wildlife. Taking your time, you jump at it and cut straight through its tail. You roll safely to the side, and the tail flies above you and comes to a satisfying thump on the floor. The dragon screams in pain as you run to the tail to carve it up, hoping to find something rare inside. These slightly story-book battle scenes are amazingly commonplace in this game, with the beautiful animation making it easier than ever to see these legendary dragons and leviathans come to life. Granted, it’s not as graphically pleasing as it could be, but there’s no doubt that it looks good.
Swords aren’t your weapon of choice for fighting mystical beasts? How about a hammer, a bow, or even a musical instrument? The weapon customization is incredibly deep, and when they all pack these complicated figures and words like Elemental and Affinity, this compulsive desire to collect them all comes out from underneath you. Mastering one weapon is nice, but you want another and another…and so on. Weapons aren’t the only system to work like this, with armor doing the same, but with the looks and the skills being the important part of armor. It’s all incredibly detailed, and for those who love it detailed, there are very in-depth damage calculations you can do on your monsters.
However, to collect them, you have to fight them, and there are a ridiculous amount of fights to do. Then you’ll be doing them again and again to farm them for rare things to make these weapons and armors crafted from their skin and bones, and then you’ll probably fight them again to test it. It’s amazingly everlasting, and although I hate farming with a passion, I can confess to doing it on occasion to find that rare item or two. It really is a bad trend in gaming, but it works regardless.
Then there’s the fact that you can do it together. The game gives you a pair of AI controlled…things, but it’s much more satisfying to do it with friends. One of you slashes at it, one of you shoots it, and the other plays music to heal the combatants. It’s the perfect co-operative gameplay style, and it’s just annoying that you need to be able to get into the game before you can really appreciate this. However, the 200-ish hours that I’ve spent with two of my friends with this should serve as a testament to how good the co-op gameplay is.
The game isn’t perfect. There are a large amount of flaws; with the way it repeats itself to the way that it has a huge difficulty curve. However, there are more than enough epic moments and tense, story-like battles to satisfy the bloodthirsty and the tense, and the deep, overly complicated mechanics that are actually pretty damn hard to figure out and understand satisfying those who love that kind of thing. However, it’s undeniable that running from a fireball from an angry dragon or watching a wild leviathan’s natural behavior, and using that against it is epic. And I think that this is the key part of Monster Hunter.