Monster Hunter PS2 Review

One of the drawbacks of online RPGS is the fact that you often must pay a small subscription fee. No such problem with Capcom’s Monster Hunter though, as once you’ve bought the game and possess a network adaptor, you’re ready to head off in to the wilderness with a posse of like minded individuals to hunt as the name implies: monsters.

After creating your hunter, you can either opt to head for the village (offline mode) or the town (online mode). Make no mistake though; Monster Hunter is obviously intended to be played as an online game, whilst the single player mode serves as nothing more than an extended tutorial where unless you have decent armour and weapons, things will become simply too hard at a relatively early stage. We do however still recommend the solo mode to pick up some of the basics of the game, but whatever you do, please do not purchase the game based on the strength of the single player mode, as things are a bit weak here, not to mention bloody frustrating.

The combat certainly doesn’t help matters. Melee combat is frustratingly cumbersome at times, flicking the analogue stick in different directions will produce different moves, whilst timed presses will create combos. The lack of a lock on function and the inability to change direction midway through a combo causes needless frustration especially for solo players. Ranged fighting on the other hand is slightly less frustrating, though still lacks any form of a lock on system and of course has limited ammunition.

Defeated monsters can be “carved up”, in doing so you’ll gain items such as claws, horns and skin which you are able to craft armour and weapons with at your local armoury. It has to be said, that there is some fantastic armour designs on offer as well as weapons that range from cool to almost bizarre designs. There is much choice here too, which means you’ll be hard pressed to find another hunter that looks completely identical to your own guy or girl, which is nice.

Online play is outstanding (and many of the single player mode’s faults are much less of a problem here) though it would have been even more so if it didn’t take what seems an eternity to connect to the server. Once we’re connected though, all is forgiven.

Much like Sega’s Phantasy star Online, teams of up to four can hunt together online. Quests include simple tasks such as finding a certain amount of items and more difficult missions, where teamwork is of the essence such as stealing monster eggs or slaying prodigious beasts. Capcom have even promised to keep offering additional quests to extend the lifespan of the game. The missions you can undertake are determined by your hunter ranking (better known as your HR). Reaching the games maximum level of 20 is a serious task, akin to climbing to the peak of Mount Everest. It’s a task that is sure to earn you massive respect and perhaps disgust at your lack of a life outside the game among your fellow hunters.

Similar games to this normally have under whelming graphics (though admittedly we do like Phantasy Star’s visuals from an artistic standpoint) but Monster Hunter is surprisingly beautiful. It has a look that is similar to Onimusha, which is quality in itself, but it’s the little touches that really impress such as the shadows of clouds rolling over mountains and the ghostly mist that shrouds some environments. All the monsters are impressively animated and look suitably vicious, especially the gargantuan wvererns, which are an awesome sight to behold. There’s not much music featured so instead the game relies on its strong atmosphere to draw players in to its incredible world. It almost had us believing that we really were tough as nails hunters, it’s true that. Ok it’s not but you get the picture.

Monster Hunter is not without its problems though even online. The game features an inventory system that is best described as god awful. You’ll find many items, but ludicrously limited space has been provided for storage, and this becomes even worse, when you discover that items can be combined to create new ones. Items can be stored in town, but this is needlessly time consuming and we’d rather be slicing up primal beasts ourselves. Being whacked by team mates swinging weapons is another annoyance, ok so you don’t take any damage, but infuriatingly it does knock you on the ground, delaying any of your actions. Bizarrely there is no free roaming on offer and a quest must first be set up before you can do anything, though quests usually have substantially generous time limits, meaning you can do other things besides your objective.

Despite these problems, Monster Hunter may very well be the best reason yet to purchase a network adaptor. We can only hope that the recently announced sequel will eradicate the games major faults and be yet another Capcom classic (has a nice ring to it, eh?) rather than the flawed masterpiece that has been turned out in their first attempt.