July 26, 2016

Monster Hunter Generations - Review

Fans of Monster Hunter will feel right at home here, even with the changes, but for newcomers, does this latest entry in the popular monster fighting juggernaut leave room to join in?

As with most games, well the ones I have played, you will start be designing your character, but the biggest change here is also the biggest addition to the series in sometime, character classes, which are known as Hunting Styles. During character creation, you can choose from one of four class types, each plays close to the same for the most part, but they all have a special trait that gives them a boost over the others. The Guild Style is the one that will align to how you will have played any Monster Hunter game in the past, but for those looking to challenge themselves, the Adept Style will reward you, if you can master its last second dodge, which will then grant you a more powerful attack.

Taking time to choose your style is important, but once you have that down, you can then work on acquiring and using your Hunter Arts, which are attacks that you can use. The first one is given to you, Absolute Evasion and allows you to evade, pretty straight forward, but then there are arts that are tied to weapons, of which those are tied to your style, so there is a real balance that you have to find, because once you have selected your style, that can’t be changed. From the previous games though, this is really the only thing new, excluding weapon and creature designs, playing the game is a breeze as the controls have not changed and while that might be good news for some, it also highlights the game’s biggest issue, accessibility.

Playing the game is pretty straight forward, you can attack enemies with one of two buttons, dash with another and so on, but when you get back to the village to rest and equip yourself for the next fight, things get woefully complex, even for someone who is used to the games challenges. Players will start out at Bherna village and even before you get the chance to move, you will be greeted by the village chief, he will instruct you to speak to the next person and so on, but what this means is that by the time you can really get out and enjoy hunter for yourself, you will have met a number of people, each with long winded explanations for the things they do. On top of that, you still have the trader, weapon smith and more, all of whom give you lots of information about what they do and how it can help you.

As far as introductions to games go, it is quite a long one, with more information delivered than anything else, but thankfully, you will get the chance to go out on a quest. The first quest I selected was to locate some ore and mushrooms, pretty straight forward, so I ran out into the world and started to explore, but as with all Monster Hunter games, you won’t know where things are, unless you take the map from the chest at the start, which I did take, but I failed to take the pickaxe, which was needed for the ore. So I spent time running around, trying to locate mushrooms, before I tackled the ore, only to realise that I was missing equipment, which meant I had to go back to the start and get the right tools, which cut down on my time bonus. The game did not tell me, being the first quest I accepted, that I needed to take the pickaxe, which highlights the games issues of accessibility. Being able to understand the many systems that are in place is something that the game does not really explain and until you learn, things can be frustrating.

One area that does shine is the games art direction, the game looks stunning across the board, from each of the locations you can explore, to the villages and even the creature design. The first time you get a chance to stop and look at Bherna village, with the snowy mountains in the background, you will be impressed, it just looks great. Walking into a zone for the first time and being awed at the vista, not to mention the creatures that call the location home is pretty spectacular, even more so when the creatures stand head and shoulders above yourself. The cave based locations are a little bland by comparison, but they still offer a visual style that is hard to beat, thanks to some pretty cool lighting choices.

Of course, the real fun for any Monster Hunter game is taking down the biggest and baldest monsters that you can find, be in on your own, or online with friends and this time the game delivers four incredible creatures that you will need a game plan to defeat. Each time you go to tackle any monster hunting quest, you will need to be prepared, potions, meals and such, but when you go to tackle one of the Fated Four, you need to be even more on guard, thanks in part to the size of the creature, but even more, the impressive look. Gammoth is the one that took me by surprise, because it is the largest beast created, it is beyond massive, until you see it for yourself, if you get to that point of course, it will be hard for you to understand. But even as its gargantuan sized pummelled me into the ground and killed me, I was still impressed at how the beast was designed. On an audio front, I really did not feel impressed by things, the villages sound just like they did in the past, with more going on in the audio sense than in a visual one, the games score was wonderfully orchestrated, matching the locations very well, but never felt like it was anything new. The creatures all sound mildly exotic, with hints of the expected thrown in and of course, the Felines are just as cat like as ever, both in how they speak and sound.

Monster Hunter Generations is a game that has expanded its scope, past what the series could have been and delivered a wonderful experience. The addition of the Hunter Styles and Arts gives you more reason to care about your character, but the bulk of the gameplay is too similar to past games. For anyone coming into the series for the first time, the number of things you have to learn, will cause some hesitation, but as always perseverance will win out.

Thanks to Nintendo Australia for supplying the game for review

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