Hidden Gems: Monster Hunter Tri

By Brian Arnold on March 10, 2011, 8:10PM EDT

Now at first glance, you may be wondering why I would consider Monster Hunter as a hidden gem. It's certainly a title that most gamers have heard of before. However, despite its big name, Monster Hunter continually gets passed over by the Western market even though the Japanese eat it up like candy! This is something that I've never truly understood; I know that it's not a game for everyone, but with the outcry from gamers who want more strategy and challenge to their games, it would seem that MH would be right up their alley. What is it about MH Tri that makes it so much fun?

I will be the first to say that the Monster Hunter franchise has never been one for an incredibly deep or engaging story. Each game has always been the same: you act as the monster hunter for a small town and it's your job to handle the threat of the monsters in the area. Tri is no different. A water wyvern has threatened to destroy a small costal village and you have to train to take him down.

However, what the story lacks, the strategy and gameplay more than make up for. Tri is not your typical hack-n-slash game. In fact, running balls first into a fight against a dragon 5 times your size will only accomplish getting you killed. Die three times in a mission and you're done. Go into a fight without the proper potions, medicines, traps, bombs, etc. and there is a high probability that you won't succeed. Strategy is such an important part of this game and it makes it truly fun. Once you get past the initial learning curve, the game opens up. You start to learn the patterns of the wyverns you fight. You remember where you can find the most resources in each level. There may be car simulators and sport simulators, but this is as close to a monster hunting simulator as we may ever have!

The combat is EXTREMELY fun, especially when you play online with 3 other people. Toppling a giant dragon that could kill you in just a couple hits is truly satisfying. Teamwork goes into this game like no other that I've seen. You share resources, attack at different times, play defensively so your teammates can deal out the damage, set traps to capture your enemies, all while having a blast! There are certain online games that are plagued with what I like to call the "Halo syndrome" which means that almost every match you play is filled with noobs who run around and potentially mess up the game with their inexperience. However, because of the learning curve, Tri doesn't really have that problem; every player knows what's at stake and one death means a lot. In fact, if you die, you feel guilty and stupid for letting it happen. The game calls for us to be better gamers, a goal that I find quite admirable in such a title!

The presentation of the MH games has always been strong and Tri is no exception. The sound design is absolutely amazing; the sounds coming from the wyverns is so realistic it's scary. Let's not forget the great musical score created by Masato Kouda; the main theme still runs strong in my veins! Even though I am still very disappointed that this installment wasn't done in HD on the 360 or the PS3, the graphics and visuals still look phenomenal on the Wii.

For a game with such a seemingly simple concept, I have not put this many hours into any other game other than an MMO. Our Japanese counterparts are creating an amazing hunting experience! We need to get in while the gettin' is good! Give Monster Hunter Tri a shot and join up with the world in hunting these wyverns; I'm sure you will enjoy it!

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