This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Capcom's Wii online multiplayer adventure title Monster Hunter Tri
, which reviews describe as being "slicker, smoother and more polished than any of its predecessors." Monster Hunter Tri
currently earns a score of 85 out of 100
IGN UK's Keza MacDonald rates Monster Hunter Tri
at 9.3 out of 10
. "Monster Hunter
has always been something of a guilty pleasure for its devotees – something you have to suffer for, defend, excuse or downplay when people start asking you why on earth you put up with its near-broken PSP controls and bother to learn its reams of arcane knowledge," he writes.
"Monster Hunter Tri
finally marks the point at which the rest of the world might be able to join in on the fun, not just because it's being aggressively marketed by Nintendo, and not just because it's on the Wii, but because it's suddenly much easier to get along with."
"Capcom has softened the difficulty curve, implemented a workable control system and created a much more believable, welcoming world to explore," MacDonald continues. "The result, for those with the time to devote to it, is the biggest and most involving game that the system has to offer."
MacDonald warns that the game's pacing may be a turnoff for some, however. "Tri
doesn't let you run out and partake in epic battles until you've put in a lot of time elsewhere, mining, bug-catching or hunting smaller monsters for the materials to make better equipment or sell for money," he explains. "All of this makes Monster Hunter slow-paced and potentially unsuited to Western tastes; generally, we like to be given our entertainment without having to invest a lot of effort."
"But it also makes it very personal," MacDonald assures. "Because there are no experience points and levels, your every success is the result of your own hard graft, be that collecting and crafting or tooth-and-nail fighting. This should surely be obvious, but you don't play Monster Hunter
for the grind. You play it for the thrill, for the rush of adrenaline that almost lifts you off the ground at the end of a forty-five minute battle with a dragon forty times your size."
GameTrailers scores Monster Hunter Tri
at 8.4 out of 10
. "Monster Hunter Tri
manages to deliver the best online experience on the Wii to date," the review notes, "and when you consider the numerous other refinements it makes to the formula, this the one hunt you don't want to miss."
"In Monster Hunter Tri
, you play as an adventurer who's been sent to protect a small coastal village from nasty wildlife," the review explains. "You start off by handling smaller tasks like slaying a few puny lizards or gathering mushrooms, but by game's end, you're a hardened warrior taking on behemoths that would make ordinary men tremble."
GameTrailers praises the game's unique approach to character advancement. "Progression isn't measured in levels or experience, but rather by the gear you don. Upgrading your weapons and armor is the only way you'll be able to take on tougher quests. While you can manage with the stock gear in the early goings, you'll eventually need to forge your own tools. This is accomplished by carving up felled monsters and gathering materials from each environment."
"It can be a bit of a grind to earn that new sword or chest plate," the review admits, "but it's certainly satisfying to flaunt your new getup."
As is traditional with the Monster Hunter
series, the online multiplayer component is an essential part of the experience. "The solo experience is only half the equation," GameTrailers notes. "Monster Hunter Tri
's online multiplayer support is unmatched on the platform, allowing players to go online into virtual lobbies and form teams of up to four to take on a multitude of quests. There's no friend code to be seen, but there is full voice chat support, and tons of options that offer an amazing degree of control. It's reminiscent of Phantasy Star Online
, and it's just as addictive and fun."
"If you're looking for a good single player adventure and the best online experience on the Wii bar none, then look no further than Monster Hunter Tri
," the review concludes. "Newcomers will find it very easy to get into the action, while the experience is deep enough to satisfy seasoned adventurers."
At Eurogamer, Dan Pearson gives Monster Hunter Tri
a score of 9 out of 10
. "Monster Hunter
is, fittingly, quite the behemoth - a massive game in terms of both content and, elsewhere, popularity," he explains. "To extend that analogy, it's also a game which has always tended to either consume people entirely, or frighten them off before they've really had a chance to engage with it."
Pearson finds that Tri
successfully appeals to both existing fans and a new audience on the Wii. "To some extent, ameliorating the concerns of the haters would mean alienating an incredibly dedicated and loyal fanbase," he says. Happily, Tri
has done an excellent job of juggling these concerns, shaving the thin edge of the wedge enough to bring new players into the fold without trivialising the satisfaction and sense of incredible achievement which the tougher challenges in the endgame provide."
Gameplay tweaks make Monster Hunter
's deliberate pacing seem less slow than in previous titles. "It's still about eight hours before players will find themselves involved in the real meat of the game - whittling down the towering bastards who stalk the various environments and making them into weapons and armour - but everything leading up to that has been streamlined and explained in a far more enjoyable way," Pearson explains.
"What really stymied Freedom
and Freedom Unite
for many people was the difficulty of arranging online meetings, even with the PS3's Ad Hoc party system," Pearson says. "Rest assured that, whilst Tri
's online lobbies are a little antiquated, the system works extremely well. Players can warp to each other once they have the requisite IDs, names or friend codes, and four-player instances within the larger online areas mean that groups are easy to form and maintain."
"If you've played any of the games before, and enjoyed them, then you'll find very little to fault here," Pearson notes in conclusion. "Many of the frustrations and much of the willful obfuscation are gone. Tri
is noticeably slicker, smoother and more polished than any of its predecessors."