Review: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (Nintendo 3DS)

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: Official GBAtemp Review

Nintendo 3DS 3,238 views 6 likes 16 comments
Reviewed by ShinyLatios, posted Mar 3, 2015
Mar 3, 2015
  • Release Date (NA): February 13, 2015
  • Release Date (EU): February 13, 2015
  • Release Date (JP): October 11, 2014
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Genres: Action role-playing
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • PEGI Rating: Twelve years and older
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Monster Hunter is a game that has kept me busy since release. Now, the quest to inform the readers begins! "Time limit: 50 min."
ShinyLatios

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Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is a game that had my friends and I counting down the days for its release. As a fan of the series, I've sunk many hours into its predecessors and this game has not been any different. With a total playtime of 153 hours and still going up, I believe a review is finally in order.

Hunting those monsters!

The combat gameplay is relatively simple, but can also be very complex at the same time. Monster fights boil down to very simple rules that are easy to grasp for everyone: “Don’t get hit, hit it until it dies”. Of course, there are many factors you consider during a fight, as monsters will rarely flinch and will attack you while you’re attacking them. With these mechanics in place, you’ll have to watch the monster carefully and learn its tells. This, combined with the slightly clunky controls of Monster Hunter, leads to some interesting gameplay. When you press your attack button, you can no longer cancel it. You are committed to your attack. Monsters have ridiculous HP, so be prepared to be hitting those buttons for at least 15 minutes per quest.

Monster Hunter is a game with many weapons. Some are pretty standard, others are ridiculous. You have the rather simple Sword and Shield, the Lance and the Dual Blades, then there are also the crazy weapons such as the Greatsword, Gunlance or one of my favorites, the Switch Axe; an axe that turns into a sword when it’s charged, and then you can make it explode. Your weapons change your gameplay style and controls accordingly. All weapons are very different in usage, and the game can feel very different if you switch weapons after using one for a long time. One might be faster, but another hits harder. It all boils down to personal preference.

There are also many other things to consider, such as elements for you or the monster to take advantage of. A Rathian, for example, uses a few fire-based attacks. Knowing this, prepare in advance. Do not bring armor weak to fire, because that will make the battle considerably tougher. The game doesn’t randomly throw you towards monsters either, and there are ways to know what element a monster is going to use against you before you even see it for the first time, such as dialog or the monster info books you can purchase at the store. There are also many status ailments that you'll have to watch out for, and learn to prepare against them. The earlier mentioned Rathian can also use its tail to poison you for example, so bring antidotes! With this in mind, you can get to fighting a monster at your full potential. Hit, dodge, and fight as you want with your weapon of choice. With all these factors in place, fighting feels very simple, but is actually quite deep when you consider all of the variables.

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After the hunt

After you slay the monster, you can carve off materials from its corpse. When you have enough materials you can then make new weapons and armor out of it. This is your only means of getting your hunter physically stronger! There is no leveling in this game, just armor and weapons. This means that a large portion of getting better falls to you: the player! If you get stuck at a monster, you can’t simply grind until you get a few levels higher. You have limited options for armor and weapons, and if you can’t do it after you get the best you can have at this point, you yourself will have to step up your game.

Thankfully, you are rarely alone. Whether you’re playing solo or multiplayer, you’ll almost always have up to two or three partners with you. In singleplayer, these partners are your “palico” comrades. Cats that fight alongside you. They can heal you, attack monsters and their presence distracts the monsters. This allows you to heal up quickly when a monster is not targeting you, or get a few extra hits in.

New to the hunt

New to the gameplay mechanics in this game compared to Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, is mounting and the renewed vertical aspect of the game. With how the game now handles it, the areas you fight in are no longer flat planes with a ledge here and there; ledges are now in abundance as they are now essential to the game. As such, the previously mentioned “clunky controls” are a lot less clunky. Climbing is now smooth and you can perform various actions with it, and you can keep your momentum while you climb smaller ledges. You can also use these ledges to perform jumping attacks. If done correctly, hitting with enough jumping attacks activates a mount. During this mount, your hunter jumps on the monster and starts stabbing it. The monster, obviously, is not going to let this happen easily and will try to shake you off. If you do enough damage, the monster will topple, giving you an incredible opportunity to get some strong hits in. I especially loved doing this while playing online, as seeing 3 other hunters rush in after the monster is toppled to get some powerful hits in is an amazing feeling.

Also new to the hunt are expeditions and guild quests, which take place in a randomized forest. The expeditions are basically a "free hunt" section, where monsters randomly spawn and you can hunt them if you want. You won't gain a lot from this, but you may get guild quests. Guild quests take place in the same forest and make up most of the endgame. You can find some pretty powerful randomized weapons and armor pieces on these guild quests, which can get very tough as they level. It's also a bit annoying to level these quests as you have to do them over and over. Some monsters are exclusive to expeditions and guild quests, which can be a bit frustrating if you just want that one particular weapon upgrade but can't seem to get the monster to spawn. Online guild quests can alleviate this a bit by joining others on their quests that contain these monsters.

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A helpful singleplayer experience

In this game, you are a beginning hunter. While you're riding a ship to a far-away town through a desert, a huge monster suddenly appears! You and the kind man who teaches you how to walk will have to repel it together. By this, I obviously mean YOU, but let's not get into too many details. While doing so, the man sees some talent in you and offers you a position in his caravan as a hunter. Since this is a game, you can not refuse, and so you join the caravan. That's enough "story" spoilers for everyone interested! The game doesn't have much story to it to be honest. The story is mostly just there to ease you into the basics of hunting, which this game apparently does quite well. I did not have to help my beginner friends get into it like I had to do for other games in the series. The game starts out very slow, sending you out on mushroom gathering quests and the like. It's boring, and gets repetitive easily. You bought Monster Hunter, not mushroom gatherer! This aspect of the game is very important, but I just wish they had you starting out on monsters earlier!

Multiplayer experience

For the first time on a handheld Monster Hunter game, the multiplayer part of the game can be played online. Many fans have wanted this since it first became portable, and while tricks existed to make the game playable online on PSP, this game was the first to actually officially pull it off. The question most likely to be on everyone’s mind right now is “does it work?” and I can safely say that Monster Hunter’s online is very much functional. Since the game is never against other players, it can easily get away with some lag. This can make it very hard to notice any lag at all, except when you’re really out to look for it or are paired with a really laggy player. Also, while it’s not related to the game itself, the community playing this game is generally very nice to each other. Although I did get kicked from a room a few times for using a “noob” weapon, my online experience has been great overall.

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Graphics

If you’re looking for a graphically beautiful game, then you may be in the wrong place with MH4U. The game has a very impressive draw distance for a 3DS game but this comes at the cost of framerate. While on the New 3DS, I’ve rarely had frame drops and playing singleplayer had me playing at a solid 60FPS for most of the time, in multiplayer I was usually dropped to lower. I did not have a way of measuring the actual FPS so I have no idea what it ran at, but it wasn’t bad. I also watched a friend play on the older 3DS models, and I do have to admit that the framerate can get pretty bad at times in multiplayer. In singleplayer though, it’s mostly fine. The 3D does affect the framerate a bit too.

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Sound

There isn’t much music in this game, and most of the tracks are repeated so many times that you stop hearing them after a while. The tracks themselves are actually pretty decent, but let's face it. You’re here to hunt monsters, not listen to the music! Except for that sweet theme that plays when you clear a quest. I have heard this theme over 300 times by now, and I’m still not tired of it. I do know that many fans will disagree with my opinion of the music, but to each their own.

Final thoughts

While all this text has only barely scratched the surface of Monster Hunter, I feel like it's time to end this review. There is just too much to do in this game and my words simply can not do the amount of content enough justice.

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Verdict
Pros
+ Long, engaging game
+ Fights are generally fast-paced and challenging
+ Changes to the engine with climbing and ledges really benefit the gameplay
+ A vast improvement over the older games
+ A very impressive range of monsters to fight
Cons
- Sub-par graphics at times
- Could try harder to teach new players
- Rare drops can be frustrating
- Reused moves from older monsters on new ones can be very obvious
7 Presentation
The presentation of the game is somewhat lacking, with framedrops here and there and graphics that aren't always amazing, but it's not terrible either. Some textures are very blurry, however, and they probably could've done more with that.
9 Gameplay
Personally, I think Monster Hunter's gameplay is wonderful. The clunkiness of your actions and commitment to them makes it so that you start to plan out your movements, which something not many action RPGs can accomplish easily. Aside from that, the monsters having specific tells and the ever-increasing difficulty is challenging, and I do love myself a challenge!
10 Lasting Appeal
If this game appeals at all to you, then you will be playing it for as long as it takes for the next instalment to release. There's always something to do. Make weapons, make armor or heck, kill for fun! As morbid as that sounds, this game has some of the best lasting appeal I've ever seen.
8
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
While the game is perfect for me, the game is not actually perfect. There are some glaring flaws such as the aforementioned frame drops and graphical issues on the older 3DS models, but the amount of good things in this game definitely outweigh the bad ones. I've had 153 hours of fun by now, and I'm getting ready to go on a quest with some friends as I type this. If this review has interested you at all, download the demo! It's free and gives a general idea of the game.
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