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Game Review

Monster Hunter Tri wants you to imagine living in a world filled with … monsters. These dinosaurs/dragons come in all shapes and sizes—some almost petite and cute, others lumbering in at the 30-foot range, with fire-breathing, ragged-toothed maws or blow-out-all-your-circuits electrical shock tails. And a tribe of friendly fishermen and merchants are looking to you as their monster-whooping savior. Gulp!

Common sense will tell you that just picking up a big stick and running out to thump the nasties isn't the best course of action. So you'll need to build up your slashing and smashing skills or, with a little foraging and experimentation, concoct some heavy-duty weaponry and fire-proof armor. A little hard work on the front end could very well help you avoid becoming a lump of overly eager toe jam on the back end.

A Beastly Beauty
Reading this review could easily be the very first time you've heard of this 100-plus hour role-playing game. But the Monster Hunter series has actually been around for a while. It's a big, multimillion-selling franchise in Japan that's now hoping to gain a clawhold here in the U.S., too.

Aiding that pursuit is the fact that this is one of the more visually interesting games that's been released for the Wii console. The primitive paradise that gamers run around in is varied and beautiful—ranging from shadowed forests to lava-encrusted volcanoes to dank caverns to mountainous crags to underwater chasms.

To explore it, you pick up your wireless remote (or the optional Classic Controller Pro) and create a young hunter who's called on to help the residents of the Moga fishing village. You slowly sharpen your tracking and monster-mashing skills by taking on village missions and then larger guild quests that send you into the surrounding wilds to kill bigger and bigger beasties.

During the course of things, hunters harvest meat and other valuable materials from the fallen critters, plant and gather special herbs and mushrooms, dig up rocks, bones and ore for armor and weapon building. When you're ready (or at least the game thinks you're ready), it's on to the big headliners. Unlike a lot of video game creatures, these raging beasts have a nature-documentary realism about them. And you're never quite sure how the sometimes screeching, sometimes wheezing, sometimes thundering, sometimes deceptively quick behemoths will react. Will they battle alone or unexpectedly bellow and call other snarlers into the fray? Will your scaly opponent stare you down with fiery eyes and flaring nostrils or just go berserk and become a whirling, 30-ton buzz saw? Whatever the outcome, the monsters' organic AI reactions are always a challenge to second-guess.

The Temperature of the Tar Pits
There is a lot of close-combat colossus-killing going on in Monster Hunter. An arsenal of blades, hammers, axes, lances and blowguns generate dark splashes when players wallop sea dragons, giant insects and dino-like adversaries. Dying creatures sometimes spasm. (Flesh is never visually rent and the fallen quickly disappear.) If you end up on the short end of a claw, you give off your own dark splash—and the game reboots at the nearby camp.

Conversations are filled with witticisms and stories of the village—not innuendo or cursing. When your big strong monster hunter visits a female merchant, he might receive an "oh, you're so brave and handsome" wink, but nothing more. But players can link up with friends for an online monster hunt—complemented by teammates sitting down together and getting drunk.

Still, this game's biggest drawback may well be its many long hours spent wandering through virtual woods plucking special mushrooms or snipping obscure herbs. And it's a price you must pay for the chance to puff up your digital chest and carry the really big stone hammer in this neck of the jungle.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

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