Like many who live outside of Japan, my first experience with Capcom’s Monster Hunter series was with Monster Hunter Tri on the Nintendo Wii. The remastering of Monster Hunter Portable 3rd on the PlayStation 3 appealed to me - as I have only played one game in the series before - even though the game is entirely in Japanese.
You play as a monster hunter and through your experiences you find a local village which serves as your hub. From here, you can embark on various quests. Additionally, the locals will sell you items, and forge weapons and armour, from the carves of the monsters you hunt.
Early quests establish the basics, mainly killing small monsters and collecting various items from your environment. The game offers a tutorial for swordplay, but if you want to fully understand how to effectively use a weapon, I would suggest looking towards the Internet.
A word of warning to inexperienced players, there is a large difficulty spike here, and unless you’re prepared it will hit you like running into a brick wall. Later monsters are brutal with their attacks, with some capable of knocking you out in one hit if you fail to wear sufficient armour. In every quest you get three lives within a fifty minute period. If you get knocked out three times, or fail to complete your objective when time is up, you fail your mission.
Alongside yourself, you can have up to two companions that can help you on your quest. Known as Felynes, these cats can equip weapons and support you in your endeavors to slay the monster(s) you’re fighting. Along with the fighting, they can be used as support, to give you buffs and heal you, as well as debuffing your target.
There are no ‘classes’ in Monster Hunter, as the game doesn’t hold you down with your first weapon choice. You’re able to at any time change to a Bow or a Hunting Horn. Your character doesn’t level up, but you level up your weapons and armour. As you become a more experienced player, your skills will grow as well.
All of the games locations that were present in the popular Wii game, Monster Hunter Tri are found in Portable 3rd, with the addition of the new Mountain Stream. What I found to be a great edition in Tri, was the underwater combat. Portable 3rd lacks any underwater combat, leaving the watered areas now flattened. It’s understandable though, as this was originally a PSP game, which only used the D-pad to control the camera. But with the right stick used for controlling the camera, it would have been great to see underwater sections found in the Wii game present. The game fails to add upon the existing framework of the PSP release, aside from the updated graphics. And although the graphics are updated, the menus are not. This results in some very ugly looking menus on the big screen, and it looks out of place when compared against the updated in-game graphics.
The online infrastructure for Monster Hunter is centered around AdHoc. The same system is in place here, quite poorly too. After setting up a room in the Monster Hunter lobbies, players can join with others to fight against monsters together. Once you join a room however, you are unable to leave, unless you quit the game. This is the same if you disconnect from your group. You don’t disconnect from the game, but rather you continue playing by yourself, forcing to quit if you wish to re-join your previous group. It’s not as bad if you’re with a group of friends, as you can decide together to hold on before leaving on a quest, but the fact that it’s there is just problematic.
The monsters online are designed with four hunters in mind, so an inexperienced party of two will have some trouble taking down a mighty foe. To accommodate this, you can bring along a Felyne to help out. If you’re taking on an online quest solo, you can bring two, and when taking it on as a duo, you both get one Felyne
|The cute version of the Monster Hunter cats. Airou|
Playing online isn’t a requirement to complete the game, as you are able to complete the online quests with your two Felyne companions (though you’d have to have a death wish on some of the latter quests.)
Honestly though, I really enjoyed this game, and I still do. It’s worth mentioning that I’m about 150 hours into my file, and although I’m quite deep into both online and offline quests, I still feel like I have a lot to do. Though, at the same time, with only updated graphics, the real reason to purchase this over the PSP version in my eyes is if you want the game to look prettier. Yet, I can’t fault the gameplay. What it does, it does well. I wish that there was a stronger following outside of Japan, because the Monster Hunter series is just a blast of fun every time I pick it up, but, at the same time, the lack of innovation and a lackluster graphic update lowers the final score for me.
- Sam M
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