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April 10, 2005
Monster Hunter - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
27/5/2005CapcomCapcom Production Studio 11, 4 $99.95

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The Japanese game online.
If you haven't heard of Monster Hunter get prepared. You're about to hear a whole lot more, not just from me, but from almost every media outlet in PAL territories. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly the developers are Capcom with Tsuyoshi Tanaka as producer. His other credits include Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening and the two Resident Evil Outbreak titles. He certainly has a talent for developing exciting titles. The second reason you'll hear more about this game is the premise. Essentially you are a hunter, but rather then hunting Deers, or people as in other game you will be hunting monsters - many of which are heavily influenced from the dinosaurs. But that's still not the big ticket item. The big seller here is the opportunity to play this game online in PAL territories with three friends to used your combined efforts to hunt animals. This is going to be one hell of a game.

It was different then, in our distant homeland. The beasts roamed freely. Some had teeth the size of a man. Some were bigger still. Our only defence were the hunters. And there was one, the most ferocious, the most intelligent, who stood above them all... You are the Monster Hunter, a warrior hunting the biggest of big game ever... when you're not being hunted yourself.

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Nice ermm.. monster.
So essentially this is a hunting game but Monster Hunter promised quite a few unique elements which should keep interest high. You are a warrior/hunter who accepts quests from basic tasks such as gathering plants and minerals to stalking and defeating the huge and ferocious beasts that roam the world. Players can undertake quests alone or join forces with up to three other players online and carry out the specific multiplayer quests. What promises to be a pretty cool feature will be the ability to use claws and skin from monsters you defeat as weapons and armour. Together with your customisable appearance, they make your Monster Hunter unique.

At the start players create their in-game character customising features such as face, hair and voice and are then ready to set out on their first quest. Monster Hunter’s quests fall into three categories – Gathering, Hunting and Capturing. Gathering quests require hunters to search areas for certain items; Hunting quests require hunters to seek out and slay a set number of certain monsters and Capturing quests involve wounding a specific monster, trapping it and then tranquilising it. Capturing quests only become available once the player has unlocked the higher levels of the game. Successful completion of quests results in both financial and material rewards plus an increase in Hunter ranking.

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Surrounded on both sides.
There are two basic types of weapon – short and long range. Short range weapons consist of numerous swords, hammers and lances. Crossbow guns are the game’s long range weapons. Players can upgrade or purchase new weapons in the town and if they have the right materials create them. (By using specific materials collected in the field such as horns, skins and pelts create a near limitless number of bespoke weapons and armour that cannot be purchased from merchants).

When drawn, short range weapons are wielded using the right analog stick and careful timing will result in powerful combo attacks. Short range weapons become blunt with use and will need to be sharpened to remain effective. So, players must remember to include a few whetstones in their inventory before they set off on a quest. Crossbow guns have a limited amount of ammunition so players must use it wisely.

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Ohhh that has to hurt.
During the course of the game players will also be able to use items such as barrel bombs, smoke bombs, flash bombs and a number of traps all of which can be used to defeat even the biggest of opponents.

The quests themselves and the tactics used to complete them are different between online and offline modes. Firstly the monsters will be significantly tougher in the online mode. Single player quests naturally allow the player to build up their character and Hunter Ranking before they go online. Co-operation is the key in multiplayer quests with players performing specific tasks to achieve a common goal. For instance, in order to steal a huge monster’s egg three of the party may want to distract the beast while the final member carries it away unnoticed. As in Resident Evil Outbreak players can exchange certain items with other members of their party. Communication between party members is possible via the PlayStation 2 controller or a USB keyboard.

Monster Hunter is a quite superb looking title and at this stage is one of my most wanted titles. Expect a release around mid-2005.