Title: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Platform: 3DS
Reviewed on: 3DS
Genre: Action RPG
Players: Single player, 1-4 Local Co Op, Online Multiplayer


Written by Whistler 14th February 2015






















Ah Capcom, many of the monolithic company’s franchises have either changed so much their barely recognizable or have been seemingly abandoned entirely (still not over the several cancelled Mega Man games Capcom). One particular franchise though has stayed through thick and thin, through countless hours of gameplay and through several generations of consoles. That franchise of course being the fabled and seemingly impenetrable Monster Hunter, a goliath hit in Japan with a fairly sizable cult-like following in the western world.


With their latest instalment of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate sitting at my 8th Monster Hunter title since the franchises inception back in 2004 with a total accumulated hours reaching past the thousands you could certainly say I’ve played my fair share of the series. After several iterations though it seems the franchise has arguably hit a sweet spot for both returning veterans and would be newcomers allowing the game to retain what makes it so great whilst making it a bit more accessible, whether you prefer to hunt solo or gather some buddies in four player Co Op.


Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate follows the set in stone formula of previous iterations past with some notable changes, you play a hunter whose main goal is to hunt down large towering monsters in quests dished out by various villages and guilds, from here you slay and carve up or capture the monster, grab your rewards then fashion new weapons and armour from your spoils so you can go and repeat the process against even bigger and badder monsters.

It’s this cycle of life that keeps the game fresh and exciting where each hunt is like an epic boss battle, each monster posing a unique challenge on its own where you will need to use your wits and skills to hunt them down and slay them. A signature feature of Monster Hunter is that each monster has its own strengths and weaknesses where instead of health bars or numbers flung around the screen you will have to learn the clever tell-tale visual cues in order to best these deadly creatures.




























While the art of hunting each monster and learning the best strats for each actually can be somewhat daunting for new players, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate does ease in fresh faced hunters far better than previous entries. While it is all conveyed through walls of text MH4U explains most of the mechanics and basics at a steady pace with simple wording. Granted it’s still a far cry from making an engaging tutorial section and the game does take it’s time to hit full throttle but it’s a giant leap in the right direction that will have those once put off by Monster Hunter’s entry knowledge requirements.


Amongst the already established weapon archetypes each offering up their own unique play style, we have the charge blade and the bizarre insect glaive. The former of the two is an interesting concoction of previous weapons where the player can utilize both a sword and shield and its powerhouse axe mode effectively enabling them to switch between two distinctly different playstyles. The insect glaive on the other hand is an interesting depart from previous weapon types that performs quick fluid attacks similar to the long sword yet can send out the glaive’s accompanying Kinsect that drains essence from the monster to deliver varying buffs back to the hunter. If you’re a returning player or neither of the new weapon types tickle your fancy though don’t fret as more classic weapon types have been given slight reworks and or added attacks so as to keep them feeling fresh and balanced.


The insect glaive is also the only weapon capable of allowing the hunter to freely vault into the sky in order to mount the monster. Manoeuvring quickly has always been key to a hunt but now MH4U adds upon this by allowing players to swiftly scale ledges, keep your momentum as you give chase, perform aerial attacks and another of MH4U’s big features, mounting.

Landing enough successful aerial strikes will knock a monster over and enable you to mount it, from here you’ll hold on for dear life while stabbing away at it, once you’ve filled the bar out you’ll deal heavy damage and knock the monster over so you’re companions can lay into it.

This greatly synergizes with the game’s added verticality offering players a great amount of freedom whilst adding an extra layer of depth unlike the MH3U’s water mechanics (which I personally didn’t mind).




























As well as adding more accessibility, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate also addresses the issue of the series’ rather large lack of narrative with an extensive single player story.

The story while not an epic journey on the levels of Final Fantasy or the Tales series is still enough to make you care just enough about the single player content that helps add a driving force to keep you invested in protecting the villagers and such. Our story takes place in a far off land where you join a traveling caravan that are investigating a strange relic, this has you traveling to various villages and lending a helping hand while you’re there. Rather than a simple list of quests to go through, many quests are obtained by talking to the villagers in each town where they ask for your aid directly which then adds them to the quest pool.

It’s not much and the text walls tend to drag on but it gives purpose for actually hunting monsters and it’s a nice nudge towards a proper single player story driven Monster Hunter.


When hunting solo you’ll also be accompanied by your felyne compadres called Palicoes, swapping out the little fellas from MH3U for the more traditional felyne companion system that was present in the Monster Hunter Freedom titles. These furry little cat warriors can be equipped with specialized gear similar to your hunter albeit in a simplified manner, on hunts they can gather and join you in fights against monster both small and large depending on the gear you equipped them with. I personally love the reintroduction of the felyne companions as along with customization it adds that little bit of personalization that makes the single player journey feel more unique to the player.


While single player has seen some improvements multiplayer remains largely unchanged (not that it needed it), however now players will be pleased to know that the MH4U on the 3DS has both local and fully online integrated multiplayer. Much like MH3U on the Wii U players can in few taps of the touch pad be dropped into the online gathering hall lobby system where they can both host and join already established lobbies with ease. Online connectivity is smooth and I’ve only experienced the occasional comrade dropping out of the quest but these have been rare moments likely down to the individual’s internet connection. Sadly the multiplayer has no form of voice chat at all, instead opting for a simple chat system where you can use a handful of pre-generated messages or the clunky touch screen keyboard. This I do feel harms the online experience slightly as Monster Hunter is largely improved with vocal communication and there were several times myself and the hunters I was playing with had difficulties properly communicating. The pre-generated messages can be altered to suit your liking but at the same time don’t translate for others of a different language often making planning or simply talking a hassle. Though I will say on the original 3DS XL I do experience a slight drop in fps from the smooth 60fps during single player, this is a small gripe and barely effects the gameplay experience but I felt it was worth mentioning.




























Locales have also seen some nice diversity and improvement over predecessors, like the desert heat town of Val Habar brimming with life much like the old guild city in Monster Hunter 1 and Tri and the vast bright fields of the Ancestral Steppe.

Maps that you explore during hunts have been vastly improved upon, with vast open fields and giant towering cliffs giving you a greater sense of scale while also granting that sense of adventure and wonder.


With every adventure of course is the monsters, well in Monster Hunter anyway.

Each of the new monsters offer a breath of fresh air into the bestiary catalogue with a giant land shark beast called Zamtrios, a zoo of insect monsters like the Seltas and plenty more. It’s also a pleasant sight to see that most if not all the newly added creatures are unique in their own right rather than feeling like slightly altered clones that the previous entries have had. Veterans of course will be pleased to see the return of many of the classic stars like the furious Rajang, the walking tank Gravios and of course the infamous Tigrex which sees the total monster roster surpassing that of MH3U.


When all is said and done I could go on and on about Monster Hunter and its latest release but all you need to know is this, if you’re a returning player from any of the previous Monster Hunters then this is straight up a highly recommended purchase. For those of you been weary or previously put off by the unapproachableness of the series, fear not as the MH4U vastly improves upon the accessibility and it is far easier now days to find friendly local communities willing to lend some sage-like wisdom.

Whether with or without a sensei to coach you Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate offers some truly unique gameplay experiences with each epic hunt as you clad yourself in amazingly detailed armour.

Simply put Monster Hunter is an extraordinary title that has seen many great refinements to its impressive formula and will offer you as many hours gameplay as your willing.



Pros:    

Balanced challenging gameplay

Ludicrous hours of content,

Consistent rewarding progression,

Improved accessibility,

Epic monster hunting battles,

Added vertically offers more depth.


Cons:   

Limited online chat system,

Can still be a little difficult to learn for newcomers.


Final verdict,

Monster hunter 4 Ultimate polishes and refines the series and easily tops a 9/10.


Written by,

Whistler














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