All this has one purpose: to help you bring down the foul beasts that wander the expansive environments. Tri introduces 18 new monsters to the series, many of which lurk underwater. Where previous iterations have restricted the hunt to land, Tri allows players to take on nautical nasties for the first time. Here, players have to worry about their depth in the environment as well as their usual position on a 2D plane – adding an extra level of tactical consideration to combat.
The beasts are as well designed as ever, ranging from small pack animals like the Jaggi, to screen-filling bosses such as Diablos. Many of these ‘monsters’ are actually herbivores, and are completely harmless right up until the point you plunge a blade into their back. The world in which these creatures inhabit is equally as impressive, with grand, sweeping landscapes that teem with life at every turn. That said, the environment is divided up into several chunks, separated by loading screens that interrupt the action with a complete disregard for immersion. Each environment is beautifully realised, but the frequent breaks give the game a horribly disjointed feel, ruining the authenticity of an otherwise convincing world.
Monster Hunter Tri might be the most accessible entry in the series to date, but it’s certainly no walk in the park. A few hours into the game, once you’re finally feeling comfortable with the mechanics, the difficulty sky rockets. Boss encounters are particularly troublesome, requiring patience, repetition and a keen eye for attack patterns. Skill in combat will only take you so far, and often the only way to overcome such difficulties is to return to the grind. For those lucky enough to have a few like-minded friends, however, Monster Hunter Tri can be tackled with a hunting party of up to four players.
A huge part of Monster Hunter’s appeal is in its integration of co-op and online features, and Tri is no different. In fact, Capcom has gone to great lengths to ensure that the online experience here is one of the best yet to grace the series. Once the ever-frustrating friend-code malarkey has been sorted out, a simple lobby system ensures that setting up a hunting party is as painless as possible. Wii Speak features are a particularly welcome addition, allowing players to discuss strategies (or talk about last night’s episode of Lost) as they play. If you don’t own it already, there are versions of the game launching with Wii Speak – a solid investment for anybody planning to take the game online.
In keeping this review to a sensible length, I’ve been forced to choice pick certain points to talk about, but this barely scratches the surface of the Tri’s wealth of features. Mining, bug collection, catching monsters as opposed to killing them, cooking, weapon degradation and item blending have all gone un-discussed. So too has the amiable AI-controlled sidekick Cha-Cha, who improves the single-player experience tenfold. Like its predecessors, Monster Hunter Tri is a tremendously deep offering, and one review cannot hope to bring to light everything the game has to offer.
To use a journalistic crutch I generally try to avoid; if you like Monster Hunter, you’re going to love Tri. It brings the tried and tested formula to the Wii without as much as a hiccup, offering the most user-friendly experience yet. The game still requires patience and a solid investment of time, however, meaning that Tri is still very much reserved for the core gamer. For those that have been deliberating whether to jump on the Monster Hunter bandwagon, Tri is the perfect starting point - the most refined, accessible, and visually impressive title in the series.