Review: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS)
For those who aren’t familiar with the series, Monster Hunter is a Action-RPG, With an intricate inventory and battle system. On the surface it seems rather redundant. Kill a ravenous beast, skin it and voilá; you now have the latest fashion accessory to show all your friends. The series and in particular Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is far, far more than just a quick romp about just to level up.
The most novice of hunters.
In previous titles, well those that launched to the Western regions at least, the learning curve was about as steep as it could be. Even if you chose to proceed through the tutorials chances are you’d experience a sense of frustration somewhere along the line. This came as no surprise due to the fact that as a newcomer to the franchise everything seems very scruffily thrown together. In Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate however this isn’t the case. When the game starts you are given the option to choose whether or not you’d like to go through the tutorial sections. My initial reaction was; “Oh no, not this again”, but not having played a Monster Hunter title in nearly five years I thought it would be best to bite the bullet and gravel through yet another slapped together tutorial section. To my surprise this was completely not the case. Could I have possibly been more wrong? Probably not. This time around beginners get to test things out before starting their quest for blood-drenched glory. As can be expected veterans to the series will find this section highly tedious but as expected this section can be skipped. Don’t for one moment think that this focus on newcomers detracts from the games overall experience as veterans are still in for a gripping hunting excursion whether alone or online with 3 other players.
Armed to the teeth.
Your inventory is made up of items collected throughout the game. These items can be acquired from random monsters, elaborate boss fights or in the form of eggs and herbs. The latter are collected throughout missions that don’t require you to slay any monsters but as you progress you’ll find that along the way you’re confronted by a famished carnivore that accidently skipped breakfast. These quests aren’t nearly as exciting as the more in-depth hunting missions that contain some seriously well thought out boss fights. This acts as a break from the deep gameplay found in other missions. Each item in your possession serves a purpose. Whether it’s a simple herb to generate health or an over-sized Switch Axe. If you do somehow find an item to be irrelevant you can simply merge it with something else to form a more suitable item. One of the highlights of such combinations is the Insect Glaive, which is one of the most unique weapons I’ve come across in any game let alone in Monster Hunter. The 14 collectible weapons each have different layers to them and you’ll need to spend a good amount of time with each in order to fully master them.
Hunting solo or as a group.
A large aspect to MH4 Ultimate is playing with others online. If you do prefer to play alone the single player campaign is in no way flawed when compared to the online segment, but experiencing the thrill of the hunt is simply that more memorable among friends. Joining your friends couldn’t be easier as the game allows you to instantly join via your 3DS friends list, like in Mario Kart 7. Alternatively an online game can be accessed from the the 3DS touch screen where you can quickly switch it between solo play and local or online multiplayer. Unlike previous games in the series the gameplay difficulty is altered depending on the amount of people in a given scenario. When taking into consideration the scale of MH4 Ultimate it is a bit of an annoyance that the single player campaign and multiplayer are separate forcing you to repeat quests not completed in either mode. It could be argued that this adds to the longevity of the game but if this is the case then don’t ever expect to complete this title as the single player campaign alone is easily 70 hours plus. Another inconvenience is the lack voice chat for online play, be prepared to use your phone or another device to communicate.
A hunt worthwhile.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate has refined mechanics making it more interesting as well as challenging for fans of the series while taking the time to introduce newbies to the somewhat steep learning curve in a way that isn’t in the least bit overwhelming. As far as action-RPG’s go MH4 Ultimate feels less like a monotonous grind and more like an engaging adventure that can be enjoyed by yourself or among friends. MH4 Ultimate does have its faults but these are overshadowed by the attention to correcting the flaws found in previous titles in the series. If you are a fan of RPG’s you will be spoiled when presented with the scale of the game, combat and inventory systems and overall gameplay, especially those impressive boss battles.