So what's changed? Well, the setting of this one is more of an old-world Japanese village complete with hot spring. The levels are almost all lifted straight from MHTri, but without what seemed like annoying swimming sections at the time but are now noticeable by their absence. 2ndG players won't bat an eyelid, but Tri veterans will be left feeling like there's something missing.
All weapon types have been included, the Switch Axe being no exception. Bowguns have returned to their standard one-piece format and once again Swordmen/Bowgunners share the same pouch rather than separate ones, with no extra space for ammunition. There is now a temporary 4th pocket, the contents of which is automatically sent to the box in the player's house at the end of the quest. There is also a delivery Felyne at base camp on every quest who will deliver up to 32 items directly to the house box but only once per quest. Very useful for gathering missions when the player is looting the whole level.
The player can take on quests from three different groups – the Village Leader, the Hunter's Guild, and the Hot Spring. Quests from the Village Leader are slightly easier and can only be attempted in single player. Completing these will unlock features in the farm, which can then be purchased with points from exchanging special items found in the field. The farm is like the one from 2ndG, requiring visiting after every quest, rather than the one from Tri which could be left for up to 10 quests. The quests from the Hunter's Guild are the main meat and potatoes of the game and are divided into 6 different ranks, with HR1-3 being the lower difficulty and HR4-6 being the higher. There are also special event quests which can be downloaded from the Capcom servers and feature special weapons and armour from collaborations with other companies or videogame franchises. One such example would be with the manga publishing company Kodansha, who gave permission for the sword used by the character Asuna in the series Mahou Sensei Negima to be a featured weapon.
What else has changed? Instead of one Felyne (or Cha-cha) accompanying the player on single-player quests, two can now go along, and each can have different armour and weapons with different elemental associations. The mining/catching/fishing indicators from Tri are back and as appreciated as they were in that game. Even different colour variations of monster make a welcome return. It's all positive here.
The gameplay has remained intact over the 7 years since the original Monster Hunter was released on the PlayStation 2. Tough to get into, but incredibly rewarding when that big beastie finally takes a tumble. It's fun alone, but amazing in a team. MH games are made to be played with others. So is there an online mode? No, Capcom have decided once again to keep the PSP restricted to local multiplayer, and Ad-Hoc Party for those who also own a PlayStation 3. SEGA, bless them, listened to the people who bought Phantasy Star Portable and rewarded their loyal fans with an online mode in the follow up. Typing a message on the PSP without a keyboard is certainly an exercise in pain, true. Could there not have been some kind of quick messaging system incorporated like the home console versions?
The lack of an internet multiplayer mode will certainly not put the millions of Japanese PSP owners off buying the game, and neither will the rarity of local potential hunting allies put paid to plans of hardcore fans of the series to import the game. Monster Hunter Portable 3rd takes the good bits from 2ndG/Freedom Unite and Tri, adds a hefty dash of new stuff and turns the blender up to '11'. The result is a game with a high probability of stealing any spare time the player has – and they just won't care.
+ Potentially hundreds of hours of play
+ Plenty of new stuff to keep veterans happy
- Lacking internet multiplayer
- Unforgiving and tough to get into
Buy Monster Hunter Portable 3rd at Play-Asia
Genre: Hunting Action