SONY PSP REVIEW: MONSTER HUNTER PORTABLE (IMPORT)
Monster Hunter Portable
Similar to PS2 version
Great graphics
Wireless multiplayer (ad hoc)
No online
Excessive load times

This is one monster worth hunting for. by Colin Thames

December 20, 2005 - Capcom has brought the fantastical world of PS2's Monster Hunter to the PSP. It's been redesigned and streamlined, and the results are a more flexible and structured game that doesn't require you to quit your job to find the time to play it. There is a four-player wireless component but no online play which means no online monthly fees.

Create your character and prepare to live the wild life - while killing the wildlife. As a hunter you will be faced with several challenges that require you to interact with monstrous creatures including dinosaurs, dragons and huge insects. Accepting various mission from the village where you live, your character will gain experience and increase his skills while earning enough Zenny currency to purchase better weapons, armor and ammunition. Combining RPG and action elements the gameplay has a nice balance of combat and strategy.

Whether you're an old fan of Monster Hunter or not, you are bound to be impressed with the graphics. From the environments to the creatures there is an impressive display of realism. The tall grass, caves, woods, deserts, fog and water are rendered almost perfectly. The backgrounds contain animation that bring the environments to life and the creatures ripple and writhe with such authenticity that even Speilberg would be proud. Not only do the monsters look good but they are programmed with an intelligence that make them worthy adversaries. You won't be able to sit atop a hill and pick them off, you have to fight them on their own turf and that can spell danger.

Warriors come in two flavors: Blade and Gunner. The Blade employs the use of swords, axes and lances and is more resistance-based. The Gunner is more defensive and uses guns to make his kills. There are different items and accessories that you can purchase for you character, although some are class-based or will require a certain number of skill points to use. Generic items include binoculars, flash bangs, pit traps, poisoned meat, paint balls and stink bombs.

Slain monsters can be scavenged for food and other items as the bones can be used for weapons and the skins can be exchanged for other things that you desperately need. You hunting skills will increase throughout the game but keep in mind that these creatures don't always go down easy. It's best not to attack a herd of them. Lure one away from the pack and put all your skills into just killing it rather than trying to defend yourself from the attacks of other creatures. You'll find that the Blade-specific weapons are cumbersome to maneuver. They are effective when aimed at the monsters' vulnerable areas but it takes some practice to get used to this rather sluggish system.

Back from the hunt players can return to their villages where they can beg, borrow, steal and purchase new weapons and armor from various shops and NPCs. Or you can retire to your home and rest up, an activity that will save your progress. In your home you will have a chest where you can store your inventory items for use in your next mission which you'll also find in the village.

Cat cooks are available for hire. They will prepare food for you from either suggested recipes of meat and vegetable or ones they create. Regular meals will increase your health and stamina while the special meals they concoct will result in other skill increases such as increasing your resistance to attacks or increasing the effectiveness of your traps or the damage of your bombs. Keep in the mind that the cats will sneak into town and steal things from you. I've found that if I buy and plant the yellow Felvine plants, they will takes these instead of more expensive items.

Another great feature is the farm which allows you to grow, explore and mine resources for use in upcoming missions. This keeps you from having to harvest in the wild. The farm is part of your personal inventory, as it's located on your land. It's another way the game had been streamlined from its online predecessor. The farm can only be used once after each mission. Items harvested can be used to upgrades weapons and armor or combined to create new hybrid items. With points earned from the missions you can purchase seeds and tools that will improve the quality and overall production of items that you gain from the farm.

It's obvious that the developers spent a long time adapting the single-player mode to compensate for the lack of the online mode. The four-player co-op mode is played via the ad-hock wireless system. Having players equipped with different weapons, both Blade and Gunner style, you will be able to hunt effectively as a team by ambushing the creatures, flanking them or forcing them down paths loaded with traps. The only problem with this mode is that not all of the creatures show up on all of the players' screens. Sometimes you'll see your friend attacking the air when in fact he's actually taking on a raptor. It's hard to come to his rescue if you can't see what it is he's fighting.

The excellent graphics are disrupted at times by the continuing load times which take place at some very inappropriate places. Another inconvenience is the Japanese menus and text. This is an import game after all so it helps to have some knowledge of the previous PS2 version. A North American version is expected to be released sometime in early 06 so you might just want to wait a while if you're not too impatient and impulsive.

Features:

  • Breathtaking graphics - lush environments and detailed monsters are beautifully represented on the PSP system
  • More accessible single player experiences
  • Ad hoc four-player co-op
  • Enhanced village hub features a new look and includes various upgraded areas
  • Expanded item shop - players can use quest rewards or pillaged items to upgrade more weapons and armor than before, as well as purchase items, ammo and food
  • Farm - a brand new location where players can fish, garden, scavenge for items and more
  • By investing with the town's representatives and dealing with the businesses, players contribute tothe growth and development of the area which creates additional options
  • New Felyne Kitchen - hire these feisty creatures to create various culinary delights in their extraordinary kitchen
  • Each cat has their own unique "special" ingredient which can produce different results that aid players in combat
  • New "treasure hunters" two player co-op game
  • Collect and deliver treasures in a specific time to achieve high scores and earn various items
  • High value prizes are added to a collection list on a guild card which can be traded with friends
  • Exciting mini games - collect items, harvest plants and complete other small tasks to obtain all kinds of useful items
  • Brand new weapons and equipment provide even more options

By Colin Thames
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
Monster Hunter Portable (PSP)
4.8
Graphics
Some of the nicest graphics ever displayed on the PSP system. Sharp, flowing and realistic.
4.4
Control
The controls work great but you have to navigate the Japanese menu to understand what's going on.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is both familiar and alien enough to represent this strange and wondrous world.
4.0
Online / Wi Fi
4 player Ad Hoc is great fun but you will need to find friends with the game.
4.5
Play Value
Even moreso than the PS2 version the single-player mode is loaded with things to do. The four-player mode is great but again you probably won't find too many friends that have a copy of the game.
4.0
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PSP
Dev: Capcom
Pub: Capcom
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Colin

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best