Blind Review: Monster Hunter 3: NRA Approved!

Welcome to the latest in our long running series of Blind Reviews here at Today we will be looking at Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii. Having found great success on the PSP platform, this marks the triumphant return of the series to home consoles. Enjoy!

Mythic Beasts versus Big Game

Although Monster Hunter was born on the PlayStation 2, the series did not find runaway success until adapted for portable gaming on the PSP, raising the fortunes not only of Capcom’s charming brand of action RPG, but injecting new life into the foundering PSP platform. On the PSP the Monster Hunter games were extremely popular for the easy to pick up and play style and engaging local wireless multiplayer mode.

Multiplayer continues to be an emphasis in Monster Hunter 3, but much has changed as the series was brought back to a home console. In the game the player takes the role of one of three characters, a sasquatch named Quincy, a monster from Loch Ness called Barnaby and a Chupacabra named Javier, and takes them out in the wilds of North America to hunt big game.

Sasquatch zeros in on a Deer.

The gameplay itself bears more than a little resemblance to Cabela’s long running series of hunting simulators, that’s not an accident. Capcom collaborated with Cabela in the development of Monster Hunter 3 in an effort to give the game more appeal to Western gamers. But Monster Hunter 3 is far more ambitious than the budget hunting games you see on the shelf at Walmart.

Although much of hunting mirrors the gameplay of Big Game Hunter and its ilk, Monster Hunter 3 is actually structured more like an open world, sandbox game. Each character starts out in their native environment for the tutorial, but the bulk of the game takes place in a huge, well realized tract of the Alaskan wilderness. There is a small town with a gun shop and various stores that act like quest vendors. For example, the butcher will offer to pay you to harvest some venison, but you’ll also be able to sell the skins to the tanner. The local taxidermist will also pay good money for 12-point bucks to mount or whole grizzly bears to stuff.

Depending on the monster you chose as your character, you will have access to a variety of different, upgradable capabilities. For example, the chupacabra, Javier, is nocturnal and can see better in the dark; very useful for the game’s day-night cycle. Barnaby has a stealth bonus and Quincy can move very quickly through heavily wooded areas.

All three characters will have access to a wide variety of licensed rifles from manufacturers like Remington and Bushmaster. Guns can also be upgraded with improved optics, bipods or specialty ammunition. You’ll need the improved weapons to take on the larger game animals. You’ll also need a variety of animal calls and bottled urines to find and attract your pray. Thankfully the game’s economy is pretty generous without overwhelming you with options.

You have to be very careful around the moose during rutting season.

Most of the game you will spend out in the woods, orienting your maps with a compass and searching for good places to build a hide. The in game menus provide helpful information on how to recognize game trails, likely watering holes and where different animals have been sighted. You’ll need to be patient as you stalk your prey and set up your shots.

Multiplayer comes in the form of local and online co-op. No need for long codes of random digits, either. Capcom has created a user-friendly infrastructure complete with easy to enter usernames and friends lists. Co-op supports up to 3 players, each taking one of the monsters from the single player game and dropping them together in a special gameplay mode where together you have to take down increasingly tough prey. Between rounds you have a few seconds to spend any cash earned on upgraded equipment. The difficulty ramps up quickly and after not too long you and your friends will be facing dangerous boars, bears, and even extinct mega-fauna in the later rounds. Think of it as Monster Hunter 3’s spin on Horde mode.

Javier cleans a mountain goat.

Although the game comes bundled with the new Classic Controller Pro for the Wii, I actually found myself preferring the point and shoot interface with the motion controller. Monster Hunter 3 also supports Motion-Plus in the skinning and dressing mini-game. You have to be very careful not to nick the bladder of puncture the bowels when you clean you kill, otherwise the whole thing is ruined.

Sadly, the game is somewhat let down by the graphic capabilities of the Wii. It looks good for a Wii game, but one can’t help but think the foliage and the mountains could have looked so much better on a HD console. If you don’t mind the radical changes or the “NRA Approved” badge on the box, I can’t think of a better hunting game on the market.

Our Score: Bangarang