Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is the latest international release from Capcom in the Monster Hunter franchise. The premise behind this franchise is that you take on the role of a hunter who hunts monsters. You take parts of the monster you hunted, and then turn them into new weapons and armour to help you hunt other monsters. Is there anything more to Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate?
Gameplay has ultimately remained the same compared to the previously international release in the Monster Hunter franchise Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (2009), with a few additions. Players can choose from one of 14 different weapons at any time; the great sword, the long sword, the dual blades, the sword and shield, hammer, hunting horn, lance, gunlance, switch axe, light and heavy bowguns, bows, and the newly added insect glaive and charge axe. If things feel stale, there’s thirteen other weapons to master. As for how these weapons play out, it’s like reality; every move you take should be planned out. If you’ve got a giant sword, it’s going to take a second to swing that hunk of metal. The monster’s movements need to be taken into account, and when everything falls into place, that sword will come crashing down onto that monster for massive damage.
Another new feature is mounting. When players attack a monster from a height advantage, the monster topples over and allows them to jump on top. A chance now appears to hack at the monster’s back, while the monster begins to thrash and roar to try and throw the hunter off. If enough damage takes place, the monster will fall over, giving hunters more of a chance to dish out more damage. For a simplistic mechanic, it’s simply fun.
The c-stick on the new Nintendo 3DS and new Nintendo 3DS XL adds a bit more control by allowing the player to easily move the camera around. While there is a locking system for large monsters, gameplay flows better with the c-stick.
For newer players, tutorials have been greatly improved upon compared to Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. Right from the opening of the game, the fearsome might of monsters is introduced. For those who’ve experienced Monster Hunter before, there’s the option to bypass tutorials to get players right into the game.
Monster Hunter is all about hunting monsters, and with over 120 of them in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, there’s a lot to hunt. The new monsters, like the testy toad Tetsucabra, the nefarious rattle snake/lizard hybrid Najarala, or the marvellous Gore Magala demon dragon, provide a wide variety of beasts to beat. A lot of older monsters return from previous Monster Hunter games, like the Great Jaggi, the wacky Yian Kut-Ku and the cruel couple of the Rathian and Rathalos wyverns.
The story in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate sees you, a hunter, being chosen by the Caravaneer to join his crew as a Kindred Hunter to help out people in need. Meanwhile, a great calamity falls onto the world when a mysterious monster, the Gore Magala, starts spreading the Frenzy Virus that turns monsters berserk. It’s the hunter’s job to sort out what’s going on and to face it down in combat.
It isn’t the most in-depth plot, but compared to Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, the way it ties into gameplay is much better. Characterisation has improved as well, with fleshed out NPCs who develop throughout the story, compared to the two or three characters in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. There’s a reason to care about the characters that help you out.
Graphically, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate stands at above average. From afar, the various locals you travel to look wonderful, and the monsters are impressive. Likewise, the weapons and armours you create look amazing. Textures up close however don’t always look the best, but that’s okay; as long as you can point out your surroundings, you and your allies, and monsters, that’s all you need. The few prerendered cutscenes in the game are impressive.
The audio sounds like something out of fantasy fiction, with music swelling when you come across an enraged monster. Nothing’s particularly catchy, but it all suits the mood.
Online play works a treat, with being able to easily find rooms to play with your friends or randoms. Lag doesn’t seem to affect gameplay all that much either.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is the definitive Monster Hunter experience, and a must have for all who own a 3DS. While not exactly the most superior in terms of graphics and audio, the gameplay is extremely sound, and has hours upon hours upon hours of gametime. The story will take about 30 hours for those who are familiar with the Monster Hunter franchise, so expect more if you’re learning the ropes, and this doesn’t even include the post-story story or the wealth of online missions, which can be hundreds of hours to go through.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is available now exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS.