Every Journey Starts With A Single Step – One Newbie’s First Hour With Monster Hunter Tri

April 26, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Posted in Gaming Article | 2 Comments
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Yes…I’ve got the Monster Hunter bug too. But having never played any of the previous games before I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought I’d share my first hour in the company of this epic game, from opening the box to dying horribly in my first online battle. Enjoy!

I’ve been waiting for Monster Hunter Tri to hit the Wii for ages now. As soon as Capcom made the announcement the game would be migrating from the PS3 to the humble Wii it’s been pretty high on my (and many other gamers) most wanted list. Capcom enticed us with a steady stream of gorgeous screenshots and epic trailers. While those outside of Japan were teased by the possibility of this monumental release making its way to our shores.

But is Monster Hunter Tri really that big of a deal? You bet your arse it is!

To say the series is a phenomenon is a bit of an understatement – this is the biggest new franchise Japan has developed in the last ten years. In its homeland, Monster Hunter sales rival those of such big hitters as Final Fantasy, Pokemon and even Dragon Quest. It has almost single-handedly kept the PSP alive in Japan too (well, that and the rampant piracy on the format).

Being the collect-o-maniac I am, I plumped for the limited edition package, which housed the game, a classic controller pro, Wii speak and a miniature bust of the game’s main monster, Lagiacrus, in a fancy looking cardboard ‘treasure chest’. The box looks quite nice on my bookshelf alongside my DK bongos and special edition Red Steel 2 bullet. As limited editions go it’s a nice looking package, but a tad flimsy. As is the Lagiacrus bust, which is made from some squishy plastic and not, as I’d hoped, some kind of fancy stone work. Somewhat nicer, though, is the classic controller pro.

Nintendo took advice from Capcom when designing this remodelled pad, in order to give Monster Hunter players the best possible experience. It’s a smart looking piece of kit, sleek and jet-black with repositioned analogue sticks and shoulder buttons. It’s definitely more comfortable than the regular classic controller, but doesn’t fit my big non-Japanese hands quite as snugly as the wavebird or 360 pad does. It’ll be interesting to see if I can handle the long play sessions I’m expecting, without too many painful cramps.

So on to the game! My hands tremble with giddy excitement as I pop open the game case and slide the disc in the Wii. The game start screen flashes up and we’re off! I quickly flick my surround speakers on as the beautiful demo montage begins. I catch a glimpse of some the aquatic monsters before the scenery switches above sea level to reveal a herd of stampeding beasts and the (even bigger) monsters that prey on them. After a sweeping shot of a Rathalos (I think – it’s a big winged Dragon thing anyway) flying over a verdant green land, the title screen pops up and-

*BEEP*

My microwave fish pie is ready. Better hang on just a little longer; I’ve waited patiently for two years so another two minutes won’t hurt. I let the demo video loop a couple of times as I wolf down an improvised meal of fish pie, microwavable rice and lashings of ketchup – full of all the goodness and E numbers a hungry gamer needs. With my plate licked clean I pick up the controller again (I’ve decided to try out the classic controller pro first) and start up the game.

Before I start I will say that I am a Monster Hunter virgin so I apologise in advance for any embarrassing newbie mistakes that may pop up in this brief hands-on report. I should also add that there may well be spoilers, and, like a contestant on Catchphrase, I will ‘say what I see’. So you may not want to read any further, which I hope you will as the last six-hundred words have been nothing but waffle so far.

But I digress…

The ‘a’ button is firmly pressed and here goes nothing. Six save files are available to me, should I wish to replay under different guises, nice to have that option. I cunningly rename the first file ‘LEE’ and proceed. Before I start I better have a look at the options. The usual brightness, volume and screen ratio are all here, plus the option to change control style to attack via the right analogue stick rather than the face buttons.  I’m sure I’ll get around to reading the manual at some point and find out what else I can change but for now I’ll just start a new game.

Oooh I get to create my own character. I mess around for five minutes designing a hurried approximation of myself, albeit with green hair, tribal face paint and some rather tight fitting underwear. I can even choose how my avatar sounds – voice type number 14 sounds like someone being punched in the nether regions so I go for that one.  Loading up each feature type is a bit slow and cumbersome but on the whole there is quite a load of scope for customisation and it’s all really simple to do.

The introduction video starts – it shows some of the inhabitants of a seaside village going about their lives in peace and harmony until a sudden earthquake rocks the area. That’s where I come in. The local chief explains to me that there have been several quakes lately and welcomes me to Moga village. He tells a tale of a pernicious underwater beast called Lagiacrus (spotted in the demo reel) that has recently taken up roost in the vicinity, causing havoc for the local hunters and fishermen and generally being a pain in the arse. It seems I have arrived at just the right time, and defeating Lagiacrus appears to be my reason for being here.

I take 1500 gold coins off the chief as early payment and head off to explore the area. Moga village is pretty big and extremely nice looking; I can almost smell the sea air as I roam the floating buildings and coastal paths. I find a blacksmith’s shop and seeing as I’m only holding a blunt hunters knife decide to invest in something more befitting a vicious monster-slaying person. Everything seems a little pricey so I leave it for now. I quickly nip to the house the villagers have so kindly offered me and chat to a feline butler standing guard in my bedroom. He seems a nice fellow, bit on the small side though. I bid him good day and pop over to my bed to save my game. That’s half an hour gone already, blimey time flies when you’re having fun (and fish pie). I have to take a short break is while I pop to my local watering hole for a pub quiz…

Pub quiz finished and we ended up coming second, winning a grand total of £53 between the four of us – nice! Anyway, back to the game. Upon loading my save file I am given the choice between returning to Moga village and my single-player quest or try out the online multiplayer via a trip to ‘the city’. I decide upon the latter, as I might as well have a go at my first online console RPG experience since Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast many moons ago.

While loading I’m reminded not to give out any personal information and refrain from using obscenities. Bastards. Sift through a couple of user license agreements, and now I’m connecting to the server. Even though my router is in another room it takes less than a minute to connect to the server. This might be because it’s before the masses get hold of the game but with any luck it’ll still be this smooth in the coming months, when the servers are really tested by massive traffic. I’m asked to select an area and server to connect to and go straight for the rookie area. No use punching above my weight just yet. There are 155 people connected on my chosen server, so let’s see if I can find any hunter buddies.

There’s another nice little cut-scene showing off the desert city and the many hunters and traders that can be found within its walls. Most of the hunters are walking around with giant swords -I suddenly feel quite inadequate with my piddly little knife. But they say size isn’t everything, right?

I’m thrust into the city and I have to say it’s all very nice looking, this is definitely one of the better looking Wii games out there. The faint heat haze and lighting effects thrown off some nearby lit torches looks almost real. This first area is a hub of sorts, I can get some information from a helpful guide or enquire about arena fights. This is also the spot where I can join or create a party. The game refers to this as a ‘city’ with a maximum of four players at any one time by the looks of it, which is a bit disappointing. I pick a city with a vacant spot and am whisked off to the centre of the city, known as Loc Lam. I immediately head straight for the tavern, which sadly is not holding a pub quiz.

I register myself with the guild master behind the bar and get my hunting licence, then speak to the arena master to arrange a fight. First up is a battle with a Qurepco, whatever that is. I have 50 minutes to kill this thing and I could win 500 gold pieces. I get to choose my equipment before the fight, it’s all much nicer looking than what I came in with. I go for the bow gun style weapon; it’ll give me a chance to use the skills I learnt in Halo sniper school.

As I enter the huge ruins of the arena I see my quarry up ahead. The Qurepco doesn’t look too dissimilar to that hooded dinosaur in Jurassic Park – the name escapes me right now – but with large wings and a bright red chest. He’s flanked by two smaller purple raptor-like creatures who I quickly realise are just as dangerous as their larger friend. Well I say friend but as I’m running around like a headless chicken desperately trying to get a few cheap shots I notice they fight one another if I’m not nearby. I use this to my advantage and grab a few vital seconds to reload; the bow gun is a good range weapon but you definitely need a good window of opportunity to reload your paltry six shots.

The Qurepco doesn’t take long to force me into a corner and attack, I wave goodbye to half my energy bar, along with any faint glimmer of hope that I might survive this first, lowly encounter. I smarten up to his attack patterns pretty quickly though and last another  few minutes before a double-team attack from the raptor things and some projectile vomit from the Qurepco finish me off. I lose one try (i get three) and my prize money is docked. On the second attempt I learn to use the raptors to my advantage and find myself reacting quicker to the tell-tale signs that signal each attack. But alas I get too cocky picking off the raptors at close range and all too late realise the Qurepco is right behind me. My second life ends abruptly.

My third and final life starts off badly – I take another crunching hit from the Qurepco as he charges me down. I figure it’s all or nothing and go right up close till I can see the whites of his eyes, and fire off a couple  of quick shots. It doesn’t appear to be taking anything off his health. Then I realise he doesn’t have a health bar. Damn. I try and use a couple of potions but end up rolling around the arena instead (didn’t know I could roll out of the way of attacks, but hey, you live and learn). Again, the Qurepco and his raptor buddies gang up on me and I’m out for the count.

The clock chimes. It’s hit twelve o clock already. I better get off to bed! And so I return to the city gate, with my tail between my legs, feeling thoroughly admonished. I wonder if it’s even worth saving my progress, and if you could even call that fight progress in the first place. But to heck with it thinks I, every journey starts with a single step.

So my early impressions are good. I can see this is a title I’ll have to spend a bit of time right to acquaint myself with some of its finer points. But I do think I’ll be having a lot of fun along the way. Pop back for some regular updates on my monster hunting journey in the near future. Oh and please add a comment if you liked/hated this article!

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2 Comments »

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  1. […] Impressions here Permalink […]

  2. Did you see Dog the Bounty Hunter on Monday??? He was like “freeze, bro” and the baddy was like “er…no way dog, you aint gonna catch me. I will continue to commit small petty crimes hahahahaha”

    It was brilliant!


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