Review: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate – the best game most of you will never play
After knocking out three guides for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate recently, I’ve finally got to the meat and potatoes of this incredibly in-depth game. Finding a quiet corner I grabbed my 3DS, put on headphones and jumped back to its familiar world. Welcome back Monster Hunter, I’ve missed you.
The sun shines across the arid desert as I ready myself for the coming battle. Making potions and sharpening tools, a family of Rhenoplos (herbivores similar to a rhinoceros) graze not far from where I stand. The family pays no attention to me at first but as the largest one grows curious of my presence and approaches, it becomes aggravated and starts to eye me up and down. Though I could kill it with a single blow, I have no use for it. It is time to move on. My quest today involved something a little bigger, a Qurupeco.
This particular prey is about twice my size and almost looks like a bird, if you frappéd the genes of a platypus, a bat and a pelican. After a short search, I find the beast down by a dried up lake bed. Creeping up behind it I get ready to strike. Reaching into my bag I grab a paintball and launch it at its tail. A puff of smoke erupts as it hits and the creature is now lit up on my map. It is also noticeably upset. As it turns to face me my first strike connects. My switch axe unfolds and the huge metal blade smashes into its face. Now it’s mad and the fight is on.
As the battle rages, it changes its attacks constantly. Sometimes it uses its beak to peck, it spews acid from its mouth and spins its body around to ferociously lash out at anything nearby. It adapts. As a hunter you’ll need to adapt too. It’s tactics reveal weakness. The safer place to strike is on the sides. Gradually as the fight wages on the effects of my attacks begins to take its toll. One particularly heavy strike connects with its head and the creature collapses. Seeing the opening I dash forward and let loose the most powerful flurry I can muster.
The Qurupeco somehow manages to get back to its feet, but something has changed. Its beak is now broken and rage has set in. Drool now pours from its mouth and its ferocity is frightening. Keeping my distance, the fight has now become about defence and before long the beast takes to the sky, fleeing the area. Thanks to my paintball, however, its movements are trackable and when it lands to lick its wounds there will be a nasty surprise lying in wait. Me. This is merely one of a thousand tales experienced by your friendly neighbourhood monster hunter.
Monster Hunter has always been a series that pushes the player. From the moment you first leave the village on your starting quest, the world you inhabit is filled with dangerous and difficult problems and opponents to overcome. For a lot of people settling into a routine in gaming can seem like a chore with gathering resources and collecting supplies a large part of the hunting experience. But for Japanese action role-playing game veterans it can become an all consuming experience.
New players might feel overwhelmed when you remove the staples such as quest arrows, or levelling up or casting aside difficulty settings. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate wants to make you work for your victories and it is incredibly rewarding. No battle in this game has a clear walkthrough, nor does any amount of questing advance you to a point where you can easily overpower your opponent. It all comes down to timing, execution and skill.
As you’d expect Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate adds more content, refined controls and introduces dozens of new creatures to hunt and locations to explore. The use of the touch pad on both the 3DS and the Wii U opens up a new level of control by offering the ability to put your most used menu functions at the tip of your fingers. The new camera system allows the player to lock onto large beasties, meaning a simpler system for targeting foes.
Aside from the contextual clipping issues from defeated enemies and a rather confusing and convoluted online system, the years of development have paid off with these new improvements adding to the already amazing experience. Though it may lack the visual prowess of AAA titles it still retains a charm all its own and considering what it offers in the nature of its 3DS / Wii U cross-compatibility I am willing to forgive some minor aesthetic issues.
Once you have got the basics down pat Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate it is one of the best short session games around. A hunt will usually only take about 20 minutes and will leave you immensely satisfied. New gamers will still have to wade through the game’s long introduction but if you are willing to stay with it, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate has a ridiculous level of replay value. Those with the sticking power will find themselves hooked on collecting parts for that new weapon or hunting down that big terror you just can’t best. Tool up and stalk your prey. It’s almost a never ending process. For a hunter, the hunt never ends.