The Monster Hunter
series are hugely popular in Japan, but not so much internationally. I have no idea why, because this is an amazing game. The monsters themselves are huge and imposing; the moment a Rathian
spots you causes your heart to skip a beat while you fumble to get your weapon out. To actually kill it isn't an easy matter either, as no amount of grinding for equips will replace raw skill with your preferred weapon. Are you better with the crushing blows of a hammer
, or the versatile SnS
(Sword and Shield)? It's your choice, because there are 6 different weapon types not counting the Bowgun
, which has dozens of combinations in itself. Each of the weapons can be upgraded into different branching paths, all of them have different attack and elemental statistics. Again, which one you want is your own choice.
Each of the 10+ wyverns have their own unique attacks, skills, strengths and weaknesses, and each one has its own armour
set to go with it. To get these weapons you must kill (or capture) the beast, which never feels grindy. This is because the sets don't ask for that many parts (with luck you only need to kill about three for a whole set), and the monsters are challenging and interesting to fight. The graphics help aid this as well, as this is one of the most visually stunning games released on the Wii. After you smack around a Barroth
a bit, you might notice its head is missing a few parts. This is because the large beasts also have damage mapping, and breakable parts. One of the few Wii games to support this.
You don't have to do all this huntin' alone, either. There is an Arena Challenge mode that allows you to fight bosses with a friend's
help. The first 3 bosses are available right off the bat, and most of the ones you beat in single player can be unlocked. There's even an Online mode called the City
(offline is called the Village), which has support for up to four players around the world to kick some monster ass with. You'll need their help, too, as the City monsters are up to three times tougher, stronger and faster than the Villages ones, and even sport new attacks
. Most of the quests are just vastly more difficult clones of Villages ones, but the strategy difference of multiple hunters makes them feel completely new. You don't even need stupid friend codes to find your mates! Just go to the same server, gate, and city and you'll (hopefully) find them.
Even once you've done everything there is to do, and killed all the species there is to endanger, you can still play some more. The game is strangely hypnotic and satisfying to take turns with a friend, even in single player mode; as long as you don't hog the controller. You can try to compete for the fastest time, or hunt the extreme online versions solo. If you're the type of hunter who likes to plan things out and hoard (like me), you will basically never stop playing this game. There are an immense amount of item combos, armours, weapons, skillsets and upgrade paths to choose from, almost all of which you must craft from scratch. It's a pretty satisfying feeling using a fully custom bowgun and armour set you spent 5 hours on.
The armours actually (mostly
) look quite fashionable. You can even change the pigment colour of individual parts to create your own look, and impress your special monster. This is important because each monster actually has its own personality and preferred ecology. One giant raptor
might be violently aggressive and lunge at you with extreme ferocity, while another is relatively timid and runs away quickly. Great beasts may even get in a fight with each other. If, for example, while fighting a raptor, a dragon swoops in. Best case scenario they fight each other
and you can sneak out of there. Worst case they team up on you and make a hunter sandwich. There are also varied environments, ranging from the scorching desert
to the chilling tundra
. You can even fight underwater
Unfortunately as with every game, there are a few gameplay hiccups. The controls
are quite weird and take a bit of practice to get right. I spent my first few hours throwing my potions away instead of dodging, and standing dumbly in the jaws of a Raptor thinking about which button will do its head in. There are also multiple large loading
screens, each of which can take a whole 5-15 seconds. That doesn't sound like much, but you'll notice the jar when escaping from a dragon's hellfire
. The online mode is also a bit clunky to find new friends with, the City being unnecessarily large and very easy to get lost in not helping.