SYSTEM: Nintendo Wii
PRICE: $59.99 (includes Classic Controller Pro)
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 4 stars (out of 5)
For years, promising huntsman have donned their virtual armor, sharpened their mighty cyber-blade and ventured out into the wild to slay enormous creatures while playing “Monster Hunter.” Unfortunately, these brave warriors have been limited by the outdated power of the PS2 and PSP, until now. With “Monster Hunter Tri,” players can look forward to a great looking action RPG with expansive environments, awesome weapons and great online play.
Continuous earthquakes threaten Moga village, so the Village Chief tasks the mighty hunter with investigating the threat. This adventure starts out slowly with players acquiring their basic armor and weapons and then setting out to slay small creatures. As quests are completed, players can use quest items to help repair Moga village, which in turn raises the villagers’ spirits. Eventually, players gain access to weaponry that is more fearsome than most of the monsters they encounter!
Speaking of which, many fearsome monsters tower above the strong hunter, but they seem less intimidating when his weapon is larger than his entire body. Finding or creating giant weapons and awesome armor from slain enemies is one of the major draws of this title. I especially enjoy how differently each weapon handles, meaning the massive Switch Axe performs very differently than the Long Sword and Bow Gun.
It has taken a few years, but the Wii finally has an excellent online title. Yes, solo hunters can form two- to four-player teams and hunt big game together! Players can use their existing hunter and tackle specific quests with others online, and this mode even supports voice chat. Thankfully, there are no annoying friend codes to be found.
All is not perfect in “Monster Hunter Tri,” as sketchy collision detection and a confusing inventory system plague the journey, but that doesn’t stop it from emerging as one of the best games the Wii has to offer.
Delve into the Japanese Underworld in ‘Yakuza 3’
SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 3
ESRB RATING: Mature
REVIEW RATING: 4 stars (out of 5)
While American and European gamers have eagerly explored the seedy underbelly of life portrayed in the GTA series, Japanese gamers prefer sandbox games that closely represent their culture. That’s why the Yakuza series is such a hit in the East, and now the rest of the world can join in the fight against the Japanese Mafia while playing “Yakuza 3.”
After becoming the leader of his clan, Kazuma wants to return to a normal life. Once known as the dreaded Dragon of Dojima, he now runs an orphanage by the sea. But that orphanage is threatened by the Yakuza, and Kazuma will stop at nothing to protect his surrogate family. Now he has to solve simple child problems, such as stealing money, while also tackling the deadly Yakuza.
Unlike “GTA,” the cities in “Yakuza 3” are smaller and more intimate. Sure the visuals are a bit outdated, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a massive amount of detail. Since there is no driving, players experience each area at a slower pace, which is much more realistic. This also allows the developers to create several fun side games that include: fishing, golfing, karaoke, arcade games and card games.
A deep hand-to-hand combat system replaces the standard shooter mechanics found in most sandbox games. With no guns available, players must learn and employ brutal melee combat that incorporates weapons like knives and katanas as well as environmental objects. Shooting people in games is fun, but not nearly as satisfying as smashing street signs over their head!
Gamers looking for a streamlined title should look elsewhere as “Yakuza 3” doesn’t have a user-friendly focus. It does, however, offer an authentic Japanese adventure, complete with long-winded conversations and characters obsessed with American pop culture. For me, this experience is more enjoyable than in-your-face titles that are obsessed with morally corrupt characters.
REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don’t Bother
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
E10-plus: (Everyone 10 and older)
T: Teen (13 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)
To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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