Monster Hunter first graced PlayStation 2 back in 2004. The name says it all. Players take the role of a hunter who sets out on a quest to slay monsters. That game was memorable for its easy-to-maneuver gameplay and awe-inspiring monsters. The huge hit has spawned several more titles. The latest release is Monster Hunter 3 for the Wii.
In single-player mode, the player takes the role of a hunter in the Moga village which has just been ravaged by a Lagiacrus, a leviathan of the sea. The player must pursue quests to repair the village and respond to the needs of the guild and occasional requests from villagers. I suggest you skip the storyline: It’s not terribly engaging.
The graphics department gets a few gold stars. Technically it looks a tad better than previous Resident Evil games by Capcom on Wii but it does not quite carry off the next-gen quality. There’s plenty of appeal, though: eye-catching armor, weapons, and well styled monsters. The large creatures are all we could hope for and daunting. The sight of their mass in open terrain compared to the player’s persona makes you feel insignificant – at least until you have a good set of armor and weapons.
The gameplay is where the magic happens. Basic controls are intuitive using Wiimote with Nunchuk or a Classic Controller Pro, although the motion sensor on the former can get in the way at times.
Monster Hunter 3 differs from conventional role-playing games as it lacks leveling or developing skill-tree systems. Instead, both are incorporated into the armor and weapon sets through upgrading.
Another deviation is there are no classes to speak of. The player’s “class” is defined by the type of weapon in use. Seven types of weapons can come to hand and the player is allowed to wield any one of them. However, equipped items cannot be changed once a quest is initiated.
Quests are available in both offline and online modes and are categorized by difficulty. Two areas are accessible only from offline mode, but the bulk of the game takes place online. More quests – also occasional unique event quests –kick in, a few additional monsters pop up and all the higher level equipment become accessible in online mode.
In online mode, the game connects to its US server. There players can choose the Server, Gate and City to play in. Each city can hold up to four players at a time who can form hunting parties together. Quests tackled with more people will face tougher enemies but yield more rewards.
Another feature available only in online mode is hunter rank. You get points by completing online quests. Gain enough and you step up a rank.
There are numerous weapons and armor available. Each requires abundant amounts of items dropped or collected from monsters – especially from large monsters. Strictly offline mode is restricted to equipment completion and two-player split-screen mode replay interest.
Overall, Monster Hunter 3 is a solid play for online mode, a-OK for offline mode. No matter which play mode you choose, seeing the scene where you finally take down that difficult large monster is an awesome and satisfying moment every time.
So grab some friends, arrange a hunt, and let the fun begin!
Note: The game supports USB keyboard and WiiSpeak for voice chat.