May 5, 2010

85 hours into Monster Hunter Tri

This Quropeco armor isn't a costume, it's a way of life.

Sure, the abundance of vivid feathers and assless chaps might make me look like Chief Smokescock gearing up for the pride parade, but in truth, I'm preparing to hunt. I'm going to hunt the large reptilian beast that has been terrorizing the small coastal village of Moga. They need a hero, a savior, they need... a MONSTER HUNTER.

Or something. Whatever. That's the entire Monster Hunter Story. The game has a rich and well realized backdrop that can be summed up with: Humans enter a tribal iron age alongside huge dino-dragon beasts that rule the land. The bravest of humans become Hunters and claim their rightful place at the top of the food chain by killing these large beasts and saving the day for everyone. But all you really need to know is: You -> puny human, That big scary thing -> going to ruin your day and then feed you to it's young.

But thankfully, the humans have something on their side. Ridiculously Huge Fuck-Off Swords (and other weapons, but mostly RHF-O Swords). And you get these swords by killing a monster and then carving pieces off of it to make even bigger Ridiculously Huge Fuck-Off Swords. If swords aren't your thing, there are also RHF-O Hammers, RHF-O Lances, RHF-O Bowguns, and so on. So the basic progression of the game is: Kill big thing to get bigger sword to kill even bigger thing to get even bigger sword, repeat ad-nauseam.

Sounds like a grind, right? Wrong! No wait, that is actually right. But where as other games might define a grind as wandering around the map and killing things over and over again to watch your XP slowly fill up, Monster Hunter has you embroiled in basically a series of boss battles. And it's an action game. You are not turn-based menu surfing, selecting 'attack' over and over again, sometimes selecting the 'heal' menu option. Nope, you are in 'the shit'. You are slashing and stabbing. Diving and rolling. There is no lock-on, no easy mode. You succeed or fail based on your own gaming merits. Sure, you craft better weapons that do more damage, and better armor that gives you different skills. But there is no XP counter slowly going up. The only XP you are gaining is in your head.

Real XPerience. Like "When that monster rakes his foot across the ground, he's about to roar and give me a chance to get some free hits in." or "When he looks over his shoulder, he's about to barrel-roll in that direction and I want to NOT BE THERE.". The monsters are full of tells like this that you only discover by fighting them. When you are playing MH 'right', it's like you are dancing with the beast and it's leading.

That flamboyant armor I am wearing was crafted from many a dead Qurupeco. It's an entry level monster that resembles a large green pelican dinosaur thing. It has three spots on it's body that I can destroy thereby removing some of it's abilities. For instance, It can puff it's chest up and then release through it's strange beak-sac different mimicked calls that summon other creatures. If I Smash it's beak in enough I can stop it from doing that. Sometimes it summons small annoyances, and sometimes it will summon another boss three times bigger and badder than the Quru. It really is in my best interest to cleave it's face in two. Plus, if I do succeed in disabling that ability, I have a better chance of carving a beak off it's dead body and I needed two of them to craft that fabulous headdress.

So why would I want to wear such an 'alternative' set off armor? Well the defense is better than my last set, but really it's all about the skills. Each piece of armor (head, chest, hands, legs, uhh.. skirt?) has it's own set of skill points, and when these skill points add up to a certain number, usually 10, that skill is activated. That Quru armor gives me Defense Up (S), Evasion +1, and Recovery Up. Plus, I stuck enough gem decorations into the armor to give me the Autotracker skill that always lets me know where the monster is. Sometimes the skills are self explanatory, sometimes obtuse (Punishing Draw, HG Earplugs, Divine Whim), but they are always useful. You will find yourself mixing and matching pieces just to activate certain skills that useful against certain monsters.

The weird part is that I've been wearing that armour for so long long that I'm starting to identify it as 'me'. Yes, that is who I really am, on the inside. The Village People need me. They need me to thrust my mighty sword into the beast again and again until one of us falls over, exhausted and spent.

I'm here. I'm Queer. I'm wearing that thing's sphincter as a belt.

Deal with it.

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