Monster Hunter is big business in Japan. Everyone's playing it there. In the West, it's not so popular, but there still exists a cult following that play all of the games and learn each and every weakness and trick in this beast-slaying MMO.
On the Wii, the action is taken online with up to four friends, Wii Speak support and the use of the Classic Controller Pro to make sure you're in the zone when you come to experience the new ecology system and other creature features.
Although there is an extensive Story mode that introduces new players to the game, the real meat in Monster Hunter is in its multiplayer. Teamwork is required to tackle all of the beasts in the expansive world, or you're going to fail, guaranteed.
You start your game by picking a noble warrior as your avatar, which is fully customisable right down to the hair colour and type of armour you can wear. Once you've made your character, you're plonked on this world map, with a base camp that you respawn at should you 'faint' (read: die mercilessly by mutant dragon teeth) and a nearby village where you meet up with people, create teams and accept quests.
The major addition to the game world is in the new Ecology system. Creatures will now exhibit various kinds of behaviour around other species, and it's all based on real world animal research. Rathions are prone to wandering into other creatures' territory – if they lumber by a pack of Velociraptor-esque Jaggies, then they will gang up on the Rathion regardless of whether you're nearby or not.
Monsters also have stamina, which can run out over time – they'll run away to the nearest watering hole or area which houses prey to regain strength. Your strategy here is to ensure the beasts wear themselves out without managing to get back lost energy.
All of your strategies can be planned in advance over voice chat though, and with no Friend Codes to worry about, you can approach this just like a 'regular' MMO.
50 minutes is all you have. With buddies online or solo, you have 50 minutes to find, track, defeat and skin some of the largest creatures imagined in video game history. This game is so awesome. Defeating that monster can take hours and hours of practice; you have to farm materials to make potions and equipment (like paintballs, pitfall traps, healing items), explore landscapes and oceans, and develop strategies that will keep you alive and ultimately defeat your enemy. The feeling of accomplishment is immense! The only way to get more powerful is to defeat bigger enemies and craft new weapons and armour, so you can't back away from the challenge! I highly recommend this game.
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