GAME NAME: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
PLATFORM(S): Nintendo 3DS
GENRE(S): Action RPG
RELEASE DATE(S): February 13th, 2015
Just one more quest, just one more hunt. That is what I tell myself more often than not while playing Capcom’s newest entry in the popular franchise, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. I have found myself with an extreme lack of sleep for the past month since this game has released and yet I still don’t regret the loss of slumber I have sacrificed to achieve that next full armor set. Monster Hunter has always been about the “meat” of the game where you mainly hunt down monsters to endlessly farm for materials to build and craft new weapons, items and armor to just make better ones later on. The obsessive nature with these games have been over-bearing for most and have never pulled people in and hooked them for good. I’ll admit I started playing around Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for the 3DS and Wii U, which was a great experience that I had to force myself to enjoy at the time. Having said that, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is so easily picked up by newcomers it makes you feel as though the mechanics were improved tenfold with this new entry.
You start out creating your character from customizing the hair, eyes, skin tone and even overall look from a template of options and colors. After this you are brought into the game with an epic intro and quite honestly a great start to the story to hook in newcomers to this inevitable grind fest. The main story is based around you, a beginning hunter that joins a caravan to travel around to other towns in search of the origins to this rare artifact. Patience is definitely needed when attempting this story and will have you playing some quests more than once just to build a certain weapon or armor set. That is the main reason why longtime fans have played Monster Hunter, simply for the thrill of creating that amazing new armor or weapon to then show off what it all can do in the next hunt.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate uses the same similar menu system with just a few minor tweaks, but nothing worth mentioning as they are mainly just new options available. Control wise this game excels, especially if you happened to pick up one of the “NEW” 3DS XL systems. If you’re playing on the old 3DS consoles then the controls will have a little learning curve if you’re new to the series. The main thing that saves you from playing on an older model system is having that “L” shoulder button that snaps the camera to face your big “hunt” or just to reset the camera behind you. Optimally, having a circle pad pro is ideal or owning a “NEW” 3DS XL would be your best choice for precise controls. The older 3DS models utilize the touchscreen to move your camera around freely with a d-pad design on it. Using the “NEW” 3DS XL is a treat when playing Monster Hunter with the addition of the C-stick used for the camera controls. That one simple C-stick makes the game seem more addicting than if you were playing on an old 3DS, but playing on the old 3DS doesn’t make this gaming experience worth avoiding.
This new entry has added more than just controls or new monsters to improve the experience. There is now a different way to traverse the world you hunt in and you can now climb many walls and ceilings. This helps to achieve the newest tactic added into this entry when fighting monsters, which is the “mount”. Mounting a monster is as fun as it is exhilarating and will have you feeling like a pro in no time. Now the monsters will try to throw you off and will cause you to stop stabbing away to hold on for dear life and sometimes they will let out a roar that could make you fly off if not careful. One thing has been omitted from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and that is underwater fighting. I do not miss fighting underwater at all and if you are worried about not getting that Plesioth gear then don’t worry at all. Capcom has found other ways to still get you materials for monsters even including Ludroth materials to make some old favorite armor sets. One of the ways to obtain these are unlocked through story progression and will be obtained through the Wycoon, which is a black market style trading booth. This Wycoon also takes place of the Farms that were in the past Monster Hunter games and it works just as well.
Two new weapons have graced the arsenal for hunters to use and learn. The Insect Glaive is the first and possibly one of my favorites with all the hidden options that can be unlocked and optimized all through the Kinsect. This is a stave style weapon that also has a little bug (Kinsect) that you use to help in battle. You can send your Kinsect out to attack the monster, but it doesn’t attack like you would normally think. Once it hits the enemy the Kinsect will gain extract of a certain color to help you receive stat buffs. This is vital to improve your speed, defense or attack power in the heat of battle and experimenting with different combinations of extract will grant you with positive results. The Insect Glaive also can be used to vault yourself into the air, which is definitely an awesome way to avoid certain attacks and even attack from high or help with mounting the monster. The Charge Blade is the other new weapon and it plays a similar role to the old sword and shield, but with a very powerful twist. It is similar to the Switch Axe with changing forms and the Charge Blade will go from sword and shield to a beastly and power Axe. This weapon is easy to use and tough to master, but worth every second once you do.
There is a new mode added into this new entry called Expeditions and I have found myself just doing those to kill time or to infinitely farm what I can. This new mode allows you to go explore “uncharted” areas that will have random monsters spawn and occasionally rare items to find within the areas as well. If the area is classified as unstable then you can expect to have possibly more than one monster appearing and sometimes have to fight them simultaneously. Another perk to having this available is it allows you to enjoy the main purpose of Monster Hunter without the push for story and is just plain fun. Also, it is worth noting that playing the Expeditions will grant you with new quests to distribute through the Nintendo 3DS Streetpass feature.
Online is where this game absolutely shines in more ways than one. Capcom has managed to grab an online infrastructure you can actually depend on and rarely get annoyed with. It is so easy to connect with friends by simply clicking their name if they are available in an online gathering hall and just as easy to search for a room to hunt a specific monster with random players. I have increased my friends list by at least 10 more people since I’ve been playing and it is so simple to add friends from just being a gathering hall together. The only negative to the online experience to me is there is no voice chat and I do understand where this could cause issues with kids and bad language, but honestly the parents should be the responsible party in letting them get online or not. I personally would’ve just enjoyed having it enabled for just friends at least so I didn’t have to Skype or call them to make a strategy even though you have near free reigns to type what you want within the gathering hall. Once in the quest you are limited to your preset chat commands that you can customize to say what you please during the quest.
Don’t be worried about hunting alone in single player though as you will have a fellow Palico to help with your quests and can recruit new ones later on. This is a big help and they will definitely aid you by healing or dealing a bit of damage with their special abilites. You can also customize them with new armor and weapons later on as well, which will make them stronger and look awesome!
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate looks and plays beautifully on Nintendo’s popular 3DS handheld. It still amazes me that Capcom manages to fit so much content on the smallest cartridge and can house gameplay for upwards 2000 hours or more. The 3D effect is perfect as ever and definitely shines well on the “NEW” 3DS XL with the stable 3d eye tracking. The must is phenomenal and well orchestrated to make you feel like every moment is a intense as the last during a hunt. When visiting multiple towns or hanging around in the gathering hall, the music is well relaxed and fitting to the experience. All the sound effects are top notch here with the roaring of monsters and slashing away from hunters. I thoroughly enjoyed what Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate has done with the improvements visually and sound wise from the last installments.
Capcom has managed to do it again with their insanely popular Monster Hunter franchise and has improved on an already overly addictive formula. I have put nearly 100 hours into this game already and still haven’t even beaten the main single player mode, but with so many options available you too will have this issue. There is also a ton of DLC that is being released for the game over the next few months that will keep you busy for even longer trying to get the new armor and weapons offered in them. Some of that will do a great deal to fan service with armor choices ranging from The Legend of Zelda to Metroid. You can even get new armor for your little Felyne Palico friends and have them look like MegaMan or even characters from Street Fighter (DLC not yet released). If voice chat was implemented with the online play I believe this game would be more perfect than it already is. Believe me when I say the “grind is real” in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and it doesn’t seem like grinding when playing with friends or random hunters even. I have to end with this and say if you bought a “NEW” 3DS XL and haven’t picked this game up, then I have no idea what you’re waiting for.