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Written by  :  CrankyStorming (3003)
Written on  :  Jul 14, 2011
Rating  :  1.17 Stars1.17 Stars1.17 Stars1.17 Stars1.17 Stars

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Nothing happening on a grand scale is still nothing happening

The Good

To the indifferent person looking at a trailer in a game shop, Monster Hunter Tri certainly does not give the impression of having low production value. The imagery of one-man struggle against massive dinosaur-like creatures with a heavy orchestral score certainly suggest that a lot of effort was put into this.

The Bad

And then one starts playing the game and realises that it's all just a glorified insect-stomping simulation.

You show up in a village so remote that the colonial settlers are yet to introduce to the natives the concept of giving people names, where they tell you that a big sea monster is causing some grief and they need you to cut off its food chain. Already there's a gaping plothole as to why there are never any sea-based missions, since you'd think sea monsters would get their food from the same place they spend the evening. And you know what the first thing you're asked to do is? Slaughter an innocent creature, who did you no harm, in order to carve it up and give it's meat to one of the nameless villagers as food while he does something that actually matters, ie: setting up an outpost for your missions, leaving you wondering why there needs to be one so close to the village.

You eventually settle into the monotonous cycle of start quest, complete quest, collect loot, use loot to upgrade self, move on to slightly less trivial quest. Apparently the guys who sent you to defend the village are short staffed and are taking anyone on without experience, so you can't do anything even remotely important-sounding after you've gotten past the slightly less trivial quest. And the word 'slightly' is an exaggeration. The creatures just wait in their standard set of compartmentalised locations for you to come over and mindlessly kill them, never giving the impression that they might be causing anyone a problem. And going back to the aforementioned plothole, how would a sea monster get to a desert or a volcano for food?

And really, why is one even doing all this? There's no sense of urgency surrounding the missions you're sent on, making the already uninspiring creatures you're supposed to care about culling even less memorable than they aren't. Perhaps if the villagers made an effort to make you care about them you wouldn't mind so much, but none of them have a name or personality and they won't even turn around to look at you if you talk to them from behind.

That whole turning around thing is just one of the many basic design principles that Capcom failed to grasp in putting this together. An apparent sacrifice for production value was to break up the environments with loading screen corridors every few paces, giving no sense that any of the environments are connected within each locale, and the loading isn't even smooth, just cutting out without so much as a fade to black. Though this effect is somewhat balanced out by having to hold a button to run, because apparently Capcom still haven't learnt how to use an analogue thumbstick like everyone else has.

And when you stop running and have to actually get to the mindless killing, you'll find the innocent animals have always moved out of the way before you can complete an attack because there's no targeting mechanic, meaning you have to sit and wait for the attack to follow it's course before turning around. And then once you finally manage to pointlessly murder something, you'll only be able to extract non-specific body parts if you put your weapon away, and the muted colour palate combined with the cluttered art design means it's not always clear whether or not you've put your weapon away, leaving you mindlessly whaling at thin air until the animals slowly fade out of existence ready to be respawned on the other side of the map.

And you'll need to use items too. But actually trying to use them is a pain in itself. The icon on the screen implies that you use items by pressing the left shoulder pad, but you actually use one of the home buttons, it's like they were mapping to a completely different controller. The left shoulder pad is actually used to cycle through your inventory, but doing so means holding the button down and cycling through the items by pressing the face buttons, disabling two crucial attack functions for a few precious seconds. There is no reason why this function couldn't be assigned to the D-pad, whose only purpose is to make the right stick camera controls stiff and unworkable. And on top of all that, there's no built-in pause function.

That's assuming you've sorted everything out. You'll need to do a lot of reading menus, and they're all written in such a small typeface that you'll need to disable widescreen to even consider trying to tell the difference between two identical weapons. And frankly, if I need to spend as long as I have talking about the mechanics, going over every little niggle, rather than spending more time on the actual game content , then something has gone seriously wrong somewhere down the line.

The Bottom Line

But perhaps the real problem with Monster Hunter Tri is just how proud of itself it is. It's trying to sell itself with an online multiplayer element, which is basically the single player mode with even less of a commitment needed on your part since someone else can go do that job. There isn't even any humour to be had, disappointing for a Capcom game, besides for just pointing at the game and laughing. But after being forced to sit down and play it, you won't be in the mood for laughter.