Not surprisngly, Monster Hunter
does extremely well in this regard, especially with bosses. If you look at the animations, you'll see how even their smallest movements are derived from real animals of their respective environments. The Lagiacrus has animations borrowed from both crocodiles and fish, for instance. That kind of attention to detail helps give the games a sense of urgency and tension others lack.
and Dark Souls
also have excellent monsters, although they're not so much the natural products of a fantastic world as the results of curses on the land.
What games haven't done yet, though, is given us real, medieval-style undead. Skeletons, zombies and vampires (at least as they are now) don't count, because they're essentially mooks. In medieval folklore, the term for one of the undead varied, but was most commonly "revenant" in Western Europe. A revenant was different depending on where you went. A Scandinavian revenant was called a "draugr", which were famous for their appetites and the way people and animals went mad in their presence, even to the point of a complete mind collapse. A Western European revenant would blacken the earth where it trod, spreading disease and decay. And we're all familiar with vampires, which are essentially the Eastern European revenants.
What games consistently get wrong, though, is power scale. The undead are generally mooks, but revenants were a huge deal, and one couldn't just do battle unprepared. It was helpful to know who they were in life, why they had returned and where their burial site was. And then one could arm themselves with holy objects and prayers, and perhaps a good sword, but even those weren't proof against revenants. Games, I think, are generally too happy to draw from D&D moreso than folklore which does not work in their favour.
Everyone knows how to kill a skeleton or zombie, because there is no "how". You beat it until it's dead. But how does one destroy a revenant? That's a little different for every case.
edited 20th Feb '12 1:48:59 AM by MadassAlex