Nick Smit reviews a game that’ll have you hunting monsters for days.
No, this is not an “ultimate” review. Yes, it is actually a part of the title. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (or MH4U) is a revamped version of the Asia-only release of Monster Hunter 4 for the Nintendo 3DS. Unsurprisingly, it’s about hunting monsters.
While it’s certainly been gaining steam, MH4U is one of a rather short list of titles in the series that have actually been released in the west. So just in case you haven’t encountered the game, I’ll give you a quick rundown of the idea as a whole.
This isn’t called “monster fighter” or “monster battler”; while combat is a major part of the game, Monster Hunter also asks that you take on the role of a hunter. This means tracking monsters down, knowing where it hunts, knowing its strengths and weaknesses, and coming prepared for the occasion.
What sets Monster Hunter apart from your typical hack-and-slash RPG, is that there’s no artificial level-up system or experience points. No need to fight the world’s bear population for +2 critical hit. Instead, you are your equipment.
Any items you gather from the wilderness or carve off a slain monster are valuable tools that can be turned into armour, weapons, and other items to help you in future battles. This makes changing your play style amazingly easy, as all you do is swap out your equipment and bam, whole new experience!
What’s really compelling about the Monster Hunter formula is that your achievements are actually real. You overcame that wyvern that had you running for the hills a few days ago because you were smart. You learned how to fight it, you honed your skills and you beat it all on your own without the game giving you an unfair advantage.
Now what about the newest entry to the series? On top of all the points made before, MH4U boasts the largest amount of monsters ever seen in a Monster Hunter title, with a lot of familiar faces (and tails) from previous games, along with some whole new ones designed to show off the game’s new frontrunner weapon: the insect glaive.
To be honest, it was love at first sight for me and this staff-bug combo. The main shtick (of the stick) is that you send out an insect companion to do damage to monsters and gather nectar for you. This nectar powers up your abilities, with different kinds giving you different boosts. The other important ability is a pole vault, which lets you make easy use of the brand new mounting mechanic.
If you attack a monster from above, you’ll land on its back and hack away at it. Do enough damage and you’ll knock it over and be able to get a few easy hits in while it’s down, but you also have to watch for it trying to shake you off. It’s a cute little minigame that doesn’t seem to get tiring after seeing it multiple times, and it’s an addition that makes you feel like you’re really scrapping with a beast.
As you might have expected, MH4U has a thoroughly fleshed out multiplayer aspect which lets you tackle these colossal terrors with friends. If you feel like a little alone time, the singleplayer is very fun as well with a pleasurable if unsurprising storyline. If you’re looking for a game that tests your skills as a player but also respects your time and personal tastes for play, I definitely recommend giving Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate a try.
Image: Zhao ! Flickr, no changes made.