Monster Hunter Tri

Monster Hunter Tri kills with both skill and style.

The Monster Hunter Tri collection strikes out into bold new territory. In addition to the usual forests and plains, the 2010 version of Tri takes its battles underwater, with a new assortment of swimming beasts providing new materials for eager hunters.

Whatever the season, the most resourceful hunter will always be ahead of the game with versatile ensembles like Ludroth armor. With its luxurious, ankle-length coat cut from the same cheetah-spotted fur that flounces around the Ludroth’s neck, the armor is perfect for keeping snug when hunting the icy plateaus of the Sand Plains. But like the Ludroth itself, the armor is as agile under tropical water as it is on snowy land. Furry white tassels along the hemline hang regally when dry, and then thrash around during swims like the Ludroth’s lethal tail. ($2,200 plus Ludroth claws and hides)

Unlike a traditional role-playing game, where points and characteristics convey a character’s strengths, the designers of the Monster Hunter line know that true power is embodied by fashion — even silly powers like the Rhenoplos armor’s “Speed Eating” skill. It sounds ridiculous until it comes time to gobble down a fortifying mushroom in the midst of battle with an enraged monster. Then, even the purple armor’s playful panda-bear helmet (ladies’ model only) won’t seem so laughable. ($1,400 plus Rheneplos shells and various ores, crystals and hides)

Showing off for online and offline multiplayer friends in the Arena calls for some serious attitude, and nothing says “I’m a hunter supreme” like a suit of Rathian armor. Forged from the hide of one of the Monster Hunter series’ iconic dragons, this dark green armor is sleek, assertive and ready for battle. As befits its fire-breathing Rathian origins, a suit of this armor is fire-resistant and health-enhancing. And the Rathian talons that reinforce the gloves will remind every other fighter in the arena that somebody in their midst was once pinned to the ground by an angry wyvern and came out on top. ($3,600 plus numerous assorted Rathian body parts)

After a few hard days’ hunting, it’s time to unwind in the village. The Qurupeco is a new species of giant bird that can call other monsters to its aid. Monster Hunter Tri’s Qurupeco armor set, lined with vivid green and blue feathers and scales, will draw plenty of attention in the village. Send some colorful attitude back to the fishmongress with the high-ridged helm, then head over the vegetable beds and distract the farmer’s Felyne helper with the legging’s feathered fringes. ($1,700 plus Qurupeco feathers, scales and various beaks, stones and bones)

THE GOOD: Monster Hunter has always had a build-it-yourself attitude, requiring players to harvest the makings of their own potions, weapons, armor and food. But in Tri, hunters are engaged in a single-player storyline of restoring a village that eventually offers mutual assistance in the form of farmers, fishermen and even a cook.

THE BAD: Monster Hunter Tri relegates multiplayer hunts to Arena battles and out-of-the-village quests, segregating the series’ trademark cooperative gameplay from Tri’s storyline and making it feel like a modular videogame instead of a virtual community.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Monster Hunter Tri kills with both skill and style.

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