Saturday, November 25, 2017

Monster Hunter X

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used for review purposes only.)

Monster Hunter X, Capcom, 2015, Grade: D
X, or Cross, (known in the U.S. as "Generations") was the fifth game in the MH franchise. I've never played any of the other Hunter games, and from what little I'd seen from the ads, it just looked like a monster bashing game with no real story, which is why I didn't bother with it. But, the used book and games chain, Book Off, had Cross on its shelves for between 100 and 400 yen (90 cents to $3.60 USD), and at that price I figured I didn't have much to lose. Unfortunately, Cross expects players to already be familiar with how to capture certain monsters, or get past specific puzzles in the game, and I got stuck at one point pretty early on in stage 1, and no amount of digging in the walkthroughs, FAQs and forums in either English or Japanese gave me any indication on how to continue, so I gave up.

(In the first village, where you can get equipment, quests, and buffs.)

If you have played the Monster Hunter games before, then you know what they are and how they work. If not, this is what I've been able to figure out. In a nutshell, the game is set on a planet that's divided into "zones," where each zone has a specific set of monsters. Each stage consists of a map of connected zones, and you're given quests to find a monster or a plant, and bring parts of it to a drop box at the start of the stage. Unless you fulfill the requirements of the quest, you can't get out of that stage, and if the clock runs out first then you lose the game. You play a novice hunter that you design and name yourself, and you start out in a village that gives you access to weapons and armor shops, people that can answer some questions and give you the quests, and acts as the entrance to the first stage. After that, it's just a matter of exploring the village, all connected areas, and the stage map, and then taking on quests. One quest might be to bring back one of each kind of plant in the stage, another could be to defeat a certain kind of beast and collect 5 leg bones. Otherwise, there's no story.

(In zone 1 of the first stage, with some of the monsters in the background. The zone map is on the lower screen.)

I have to admit that the game is huge (what I've seen of it), the monsters are highly detailed and varied, and the artwork is great. There are many kinds of weapons and armor, and the designs for what you're carrying change as you equip different things. Visually, it's a great game. Gameplay-wise, it's all hack and slash. Your attacks change based on the equipped weapon, and battles can drag on for several minutes. When you enter the stage to start a quest, there's a supply box that can give you the stage map, some stat buffing items, and tools like a butterfly net or a pick axe. You're limited on how much you can carry at one time, so you can't just grab everything in the box, but often it does act like a hint as to how to fulfill the quest (e.g. - if you need to get some minerals, the box will offer the pick axe). Everything else in the game is just support for going after bigger, more dangerous targets. And this is an important point - you don't get experience by killing stuff. Increases in attack and defense stats are strictly from the weapons and armor you equip. The game rewards you for finishing the quests quickly, not for how much fighting you do. This means that if you don't understand the point of a specific quest after the timer has reached half way, you're better off resetting the game and starting over (you can only save when you're in the village).

(The problem zone, zone 8, with a giant dragon fly, and no way to get down the cliff in the back.)

My problem is that there's one quest that requires that I reach zones 9, 10 or 11, which are at the far back of the map. Generally, the zones are connected by walking paths; you just walk to an exit point from that zone and you're taken to the next neighboring zone. However, some of the zones have cliff faces, and act as one-way streets (you can go down the cliff from zone 5 to zone 8, but not the other way around). But, for this particular zone group, there's no apparent way to progress further along the map. I guess there's some kind of trick, like getting to zone 8, luring a big winged insect and riding it down the cliff or something, but I just can't figure out what it is, and there's nothing I can find online that will help me. This is a key quest, too, and I can't get to the next stage without finishing this one. Yes, the artwork and monsters and everything are very impressive, but I like RPGs that have stories and tricks I can figure out. To me, Monster Hunter is just a way of killing time, and I've got better games I can play for that (like Bravely Default).

In summary, I don't care for the "kill a monster, then kill another one" genre, and I'm still not a Monster Hunter fan. I'm giving this one a pass, and I'm just thankful that it was so cheap to begin with (which, of course, is a clue as to how popular the game is in Japan now...)

No comments: