Ever since its release back on the Wii in Monster Hunter Tri, I’ve been hooked on the series. Grinding my way to the top of the G-Rank quests and hunting the big game monsters for epic loot and the thrill of the hunt has always been a satisfying experience. So it shouldn’t come to much surprise that I rushed into the store to pick up my copy of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on day one, but does the newest addition to the Monster Hunter franchise stack up to the rest of the pack or is does it turn out to be a big pile of Aptonoth dung.
As always, you play as the roll of the Hunter, one who needs to travel and fend off against gargantuan monsters, but this time around you are given a purpose to do so. In previous games, there was a simple backstory of having one major monster was causing trouble and it was up to you to fend it off, but in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, you are given a sense of purpose as you have people to work for and gather certain things or hunt monsters in their path.
Its not too far from the original games, but its how they introduce these characters is what makes it so great. The series as a whole could never capture the broader western audience and having a very linear story is one of the reasons, but now, they introduced these characters who have much more personality and are far more expressive. You end up caring about the people who are with you throughout the story and end up being a special rag tag team that goes through thick and thin together.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate brings back the Felyne companions and, like Cha Cha in the previous title, they will aid you on your quest. He/she will engage in combat with you by distracting the foes long enough for you to have a few strikes in the monster and can also heal you when you are taking severe damage. Starfleet (My Felyne’s name) is much more helpful than the partner in the previous title as it seem to know what to do rather than just running around and getting upset whenever a monster knocks it down… You might just want to put the volume off if you get irritated by cat noises very easily.
The hunts within the game stay practically the same as you go to a board and accept assignments. The first quests are more of a trial to get the hang of things, and it may seem as though tedious tasks to have to get done, but knowing how to obtain materials will help you out further when you need to grab rarer materials to upgrade your gear and weapons. Its not just by fighting large monsters that you will be able to get greater gear, but by obtaining minerals or special items through each area that will help you complete your armor sets and take on tougher monsters.
Knowing the environment plays a major part of the hunt as combat revolves more about assessing your situation before hand rather than just gunning through an arena type area and go butt heads with a monster. Being able to figure how the environment plays out for each monster will be very beneficial in the long run as you will be able to identify many of their weaknesses and strength in each area. Not only that, but some parts of your surroundings can come down on you or change in the course of a battle, so taking advantage of your surroundings will either make or break your hunt.
Monster Hunter learning curve has always been an issue to those looking to get into the series; most give up shortly into their first hunt. While Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is “much” easier than previous games, it still hold true to that difficulty curve. What I would recommend to new players is to stay at it. These games are no push over and the new 3DS game help a whole lot more than previous games. It will take trial and error before truly becoming a great hunter and once that is achieved you will feel much more rewarded than picking up something easy to play.
Now for the big bad monsters. Be prepared to lose… a lot… Usually the first time you face off against large monsters it will be to examine how they act and react which will usually cause them to tower over you and take you out, but its only by knowing how they were able to beat you in the first place that you will learn how you will be able to defeat them. Some monsters go into a frenzy state that causes their attacks to hit harder and faster, so be ready to dodge and play more defensively and strike when they are hungry or limping to get that kill shot. Knowing each monsters tell will help you stay alive and be able to confront each large foe without worrying of any surprise tricks.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate shows off a robust and varied monster list that are bigger than ever. Ten new monsters are being introduced in the fourth generation of the series; doing a bit of research would be necessary to find weak spots for each. While there are many new and returning monsters, some other famous ones did not make the cut. Flag ship (and personal favorite) Lagiacrus did not make it into the roster due to the lack of water and swimming. Its a shame they didn’t implement the same swimming mechanics to the game, but having such a diverse roster of monsters, theres not much room to complain. Each monster will offer a different fight and that’s more rewarding than having a few returning monsters.
Online play is bigger than ever as connections stay stable and without delay. Gearing up with three more hunters online just makes the hunting experience that much better, but by doing so will increase difficulty scale for each monster depending on how many hunters in your crew. Be ready for even more punishing blows and vicious attacks by even stronger monsters, but the rewards in taking down these foes are even more rewarding.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is one of the more visually impressive game in the series and 3DS library. Running at a crisp and smooth pace the action flows perfectly without any lag or any major loading screen delays. Even when things get hectic on screen, the game just seems to take it in stride and keeps on going and given the fact that its on the 3DS and not on a home console is even more surprising.
Its as if they also soothed the jagged edge from the Wii and Wii U games that would make the game look and play as though it was squared and calculated. In Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, they made it so that the flow of the fight isn’t disturbed by any technical issues and you are free to do as you please making every move count, removing the over calculated gameplay from previous games.
Its vibrant locals and colourful creatures are what keeps the game looking better than ever. From the rugged plains, to volcanic peaks, everything is displayed with great detail and colorful presentation. The details in each zone and monsters are superb to set the tone of the battlefield and with crisp battle themes to go along with each fight will make it very hard to put the game down for a moment.
Capcom proves again that they can bring a large world with luscious atmosphere onto a small screen with ease. It would be great to bring the same success over to the consoles eventually and having the Wii U version of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate might be inevitable but the 3DS version will always be an impressive piece of work.
What more can be said about this game other than it is awesome. A game that will take over 200 hours to complete and even more if you want to complete everything possible and the ability to go along with friends and fend off godzilla proportioned monsters in such a small cartridge is amazing. However I can see why there aren’t that many people who are willing to play 200 plus hours to get the same satisfaction. Most of it is a grind and its a lengthy one at that. It takes a good 5 hours before being able to start monsters that offer anything worth hunting, but building your way there is simply challenging, as well as rewarding.
Special New Nintendo 3DS XL’s rolled out on day one with a special Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate bundle, and if you were lucky enough to snag one up (I’m jealous and I hate you) you are getting the complete Monster Hunter package. For those who were less fortunate like myself, buying the game separately for close to $40 will not take away from the experience by any means and for that price for such a good game that will last you a lifetime, there are no regrets.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate brings challenging new experiences to the big game hunting franchise. While staying true to its roots, it offers new mechanics and new ways to play on the New Nintendo 3DS as well as bringing its hard, but rewarding learning system with it. A great buy for veteran hunters and new players alike, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate offers a complete package into one small cartridge as one of the most creative and impressive 3DS games available.