Monster Hunter Tri – a Great Game Nearly Missed
As gaming has evolved over the past 30 years or so, it’s moved from being a hobby for programmers, to a time passer for children, into a multi- billion pound industry with massive companies backing development, and professionals found in every facet of the market. Be they full time game reviewers, artists, developers, programmers, testers and more.
In this way it mirrors other industries like movie and music, where originally it was just one dude with a camera snapping fast moving pictures of a horse, and another speaking into the large horn of his mechanical phonograph. Now though all these industries have grown up, including the people who work in them and like these other giant mediums, gaming has managed to gain a similarly respected image. While this is fantastic for us gamers in some senses, it does lead to one thing that could be considered a shame; stereotyping.
I say this because I’m not a big MMO gamer, or a big RPG player. I can’t be bothered with the time that is required performing mundane tasks, levelling up, gathering materials, buying health potions; in short, I’m not the kind of person that enjoys a grind session. It was with this attitude that I began my play with monster Hunter Tri, a game and franchise that has had fantastic reviews since it’s inception, but it’s become famous for the amount of things you must do outside of hunting big monsters; and for the sheer scale of preparation each hunt requires.
After a couple of hours of gameplay, I completely understood what the skeptics were on about. You have a farm which can produce materials, and ships that you can send to fish for you; these industries must be maintained and upgraded with “resources” gathered from hunting monsters while not on quests. You have to gather herbs tomake potions but only after you’ve combined them with blue mushrooms. These however arn’t very powerful without combining them with honey to make them “mega.” Later on you need Might seeds and armorskin potions, dash extracts and chilled meat. You have to cook your food to keep your stamina up, make cold drinks to have on a hot day, traps and tranquiliser bombs; the list goes on.
After about three hours of killing smaller creatures, and hunting for materials, gathering, fishing and more I really didn’t understand what the fuss was about. Sure it was a pretty well constucted RPG – without levelling I might add – with a versatile weapon and armour construction system; but I just didn’t think it was for me.At this point, I almost never picked up my Wiimote controlled sword and shield again.
That was until I had my first taste of online action. Turns out my brother had also rented this game and we met up online – after muddling our way through the myriad of online menus and connection screens – and did a few basic quests together. Still nothing particularly mind blowing, until we hit upon our first confrontation with a “big” monster. I quote that word, because by this game’s standards, a Great Jaggi is the smallest of the boss monsters, but it was big to us at the time. For 30 minutes we battle this beast, dieing a couple of times in the process but it was during this battle that it all started to click into place.
We had to duck and roll, block and weave. The combat was exciting as we were glued to the monsters actions, judging its next attacks and waiting for an opening to strike. There was no health bar above its head to let us know we were winning, only the occasional stumble or cry from the creatures jaws gave us any indication we were hurting it. All of a sudden, after one tremendous hit from my sword the raptor like monster flew backwards, landing on its back; he was going down. As it stood again it began to limp away. We followed it to its lair and being wary of its multiple smaller bodyguard versions of itself, we crept in and the final battle began.
After several more minutes my brother delivered the killing blow. We were jubilant, triumphant beyond anything I’d felt in a game for a long time. We’d beaten this creature that had taken almost everything we had. It was a fair fight with no clear winner until the very end. And then I felt something I’ve never felt in a game before, I felt respect for my fallen foe. It wasn’t just some AI that had obviously repeatable patterns of attack. It didn’t have a health bar that I’d destroyed, and we hadn’t won because our equipment or level was high enough; we’d beaten it because we were better.