At E3 2004, we got a chance to try our hand at Monster Hunter, the upcoming multiplayer action RPG where you hunt monsters, which Capcom had running on four networked PlayStation 2s. The premise of the game is a simple one: You play as a hunter who makes a living and grows his or her skills, equipment base, and fortune by tracking and killing the many species of creatures with which you share the world.
The demo Capcom had on offer let us select from one of three missions, each of which had the goal of killing a particular legendary monster. We chose one that sent us off after a giant reptile that looked similar to a velociraptor, and once in the game, we were able to see our allies running around alongside us. The demo dropped us into what appeared to be a civilized "safe area," and we had to find the entrance to the forest to load a new zone and begin searching for our quarry.
We didn't have to search for long, as the targeted monster charged us almost immediately after we moved into the combat area. We began to hack at it mercilessly along with our allies, but the monster shrugged off our blows and delivered some hefty attacks of its own. After we died, we respawned in the same safe area in which we started, and we were able to run back to the forest and rejoin our comrades who were still engaged in battle. Though we never managed to bring the beast down, Capcom says that players will gain both useful items and monetary rewards from the completion of hunting quests such as this; the items and rewards can then be used to improve players' gear before the next hunt.
Monster Hunter looked pretty good, with nicely detailed character models and a densely packed forest environment evident in the demo we played. The game uses a rather strange control scheme, which makes you flick the right analog stick to swing your weapon and use the D pad to move the camera. This effectively renders you unable to move, attack, and control the camera at the same time, which can be a little awkward. The game has got a few more months in development, though, so perhaps this can be tweaked before release. Look for Monster Hunter to hit shelves in the fall of 2004.