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Monster Hunter Tri Preview: Army of Four

Illustration for article titled Monster Hunter Tri Preview: Army of Four

Monster Hunter is all about the multiplayer, which is why I think it never really took off on PSP in the US the way that it did in Japan – American PSP owners are just too selfish for the buddy system.


Monster Hunter Tri, however, is going for a different audience with its exclusive Wii release. By streamlining the Wii friend code process and adding features other multiplayer games rely on – such as a chat window – Tri is trying to jump start the online ecosystem that's already built into the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

But how does that impact that actual monster hunting?

What Is It?
Monster Hunter Tri is a multiplayer adventure game where up to four players can team up to hunt down monsters. The game skips over friend codes, instead using a lobby system where you can easily find other players and send friend requests. Additionally, there's a chat window in-game that can be accessed with a USB keyboard if you don't feel like pointing and clicking. Currently, Wii Speak is not in the game – but Capcom is "looking into it."


There's also a singleplayer mode built into the game, but details on it are scarce.

What We Saw
I played three missions during the University event using both the Wii Remote/Nunchuck configuration and the Classic Controller Pro because they had one handy.

Note: It's unconfirmed if the Classic Controller Pro will be brought to the US along with Monster Hunter Tri.

How Far Along Is It?
The game is due out in Spring 2010. I didn't notice any major show-stopping bugs – but I was sad to see that the Wii was hooked up to computer monitors which have a nasty reputation of making even very good Wii graphics look fugly. So I can't speak to the graphics which are apparently supposed to be pretty.


What Needs Improvement?
There's No Lock On: Normally, this doesn't matter in Monster Hunter because you pan the camera toward a monster, press attack and bam! You've hit it. However, Tri introduces underwater combat where the monsters can change depth quickly during a fight. Panning the camera a la ground combat under water takes a little extra work and can be totally disorienting. So, yeah, a lock-on would be preferable.

At Tiddy Bit Fiddly: On the Classic Controller Pro, I had a lot of problems getting the Bowgun to aim right. Not only do you have to have the weapon out and cocked before you can attack – you also have to choose between shooting from the hip or going into sniper mode with a targeting reticule. Given that battles move very quickly and monsters can charge across a field right at you while you're reloading and re-cocking, it would be nice if the button controls for un-slinging, cocking and aiming your Bowgun were perhaps a little streamlined. Or if there were a Panicked Dodge button that would snap you out of sniper mode at the last second.


Constant Loads: Every time you leave an area of a map – which you will, because the monsters move around – you've got to endure a loading screen. It gets tedious.

What Should Stay The Same?
Wow, It's Multiplayer! I'm not used to more than two people in my multiplayer on the Wii, so I was excited to see four people in the same place, attacking the same thing with no lag – on the Wii! If Monster Hunter Tri can work things out such that people actually buy this game and play it, it's going to be a lot of fun team up with people and make new friends among strangers the way I would on other consoles.


Swimming Is Fun: Once you get the hang of the quick-swim button and the dive button, moving around underwater feels pretty pleasant. I kind of wonder how the lancer doesn't drown under the weight of her weapon, though…

Final Thoughts
Two things will probably make or break this game: Wii Speak and pay-to-play subscriptions. In Japan, they don't have the former, but they do have the latter – and a long history of loving Monster Hunter. Here, we're sad because there are only like two games that use Wii Speak and I really don't think we'd stand for a subscription Wii game no matter how awesome it might be. Also, we're not as fond of or familiar with Monster Hunter – but with any luck and a little attention to these two make-or-breaks, Capcom could be changing that.

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um Aj,

US MH owners have been playing adhoc on psn for a hot minute.

im not sure that comment about NA players has alot of weight. not as big as japan, sure. but now with adhoc being officially here that is gonna change im sure.

just sayin.