Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is the newest addition to the long running and wildly successful Monster Hunter franchise from Capcom. The game does not take long to thrust you into the action with one of the biggest threats you’ll face making its appearance at the onset. In the opening minutes you are sailing the high seas made of sand and are pursued by a gigantic dragon that can also swim in the sand! He puts the sarlacc to shame.
In the Monster Hunter series you take control of a Hunter and spend your days conducting missions for your caravan. You are able to choose between 14 different weapon classes. The Insect Glaive and Charge Blade are new additions for this entry. While you can employ the assistance of live players through local WiFi or Nintendo’s Network you can also be joined on your adventures by a Palico. Palicoes are anthropomorphized cats. You will create your main Palico at the same time you create your hunter and will be able to recruit additional palicoes as you advance in the game. Capcom is extremely punny when it comes to the palicoes. They seem to speak in internet cat memes. At one point my Palico told me not to “furr-get.” They are truly cringe worthy companions. Something most MMO players will already be used to.
The majority of the quests follow the same basic format. You are assigned a quest at the caravan and then travel to the quest area. From there you will either hunt down and kill a certain monster(s), or collect an item. You will then return to the start of the area and place the items in a box for credit. Once the items are placed in the box you can return to the caravan area and receive your award. Some quests also have sub quests. You can complete sub quests even if you fail to complete the main quest. There will be times where you will bite off more than you can chew with a mission and not be able to kill the final boss but you might be able to kill some of the other monsters in the area as part of a sub quest and receive credit for that. Missions are also timed so not only are you fighting the environment you are battling the clock.
Capcom makes great use of the second screen real estate provided on the 3DS. You can place your map, quick item buttons, inventory screens, camera controls, and the quick lock for combat on the touchpad. You can also customize what you do or do not want to see on the second screen.
One of the reasons the game may have more zones than its predecessors is because the zones feel very small. It takes only a few seconds to travel from one end to the other in most areas. It starts to feel like every few feet you are loading into a different part of the world. I played the game on the 3DS XL and the load times were fairly quick so it isn’t terrible inconvenient. I can only imagine the load times will be even faster on the New 3DS XL due out this week. The downside is the world does not feel very open, it feels like a very connected series of biome bubbles. For a game that makes really great use of the technology provided by the 3DS, including the 3D feature itself, I have to believe the zones are this small because of system limitations.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate takes the best the franchise has to offer turns it up to 11. More quests, more areas to explore, more items to collect, more items to craft, more weapons to choose from, more combat techniques, and more ways to play with your friends. This game will be a must have for fans of the Monster Hunter franchise but may do little to move the needle for players that are not already interested in the series.
- GAMEPLAY: 8 – While the controls can be awkward at times the addition of jumping attacks from ledges adds another level of tactics to this action RPG .
- VISUALS AND SOUND: 8 – The cut scenes in the game are stunning for a handheld. The in game visuals also look good. The team makes great use of the power available in the 3ds.
- POLISH: 9 – More quests and features over its predecessors, this game is truly bigger and better.
- LONGEVITY: 8 – Hundreds of quests and sub quests coupled with the addition of online multiplayer create a lot of replayability for this title.
- VALUE: 8 – MSRP at $39.99. The standard 3DS title price.