on April 25, 2013 by Mr Random
A new Monster Hunter, another 100 or so hours spent carving up monsters to create ever more impressive armour and weapons. While Monster Hunter may not be for everyone, those that do will find that 3 Ultimate is the best Monster Hunter game yet, even if you’re playing alone.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is an updated version of Monster Hunter Tri, which was released back in 2010 for the Wii. While a lot of old ground is tread with this newer version, Capcom have added enough content to Ultimate to ensure that long-time fans will be hunting for many months to come.
As with the previously mentioned Tri, you are a new hunter that has been sent to Moga Village, a small fishing village attached to a deserted island. You have been despatched to investigate the earthquakes that have recently been affecting the village, supposedly caused by a great sea beast called the Lagiacrus. While the story is mainly just a backdrop for your monster hunting exploits, the village’s residents are quirky and the game offers just enough to keep the story entertaining. Single player has also been expanded in this new release, offering higher ranked quest for solo hunters to dig into.
You’ll spend most of your time hunting the game’s various monsters, but to do so you must be prepared. Using what you acquire from missions, you can craft items and equipment. Crafting itself is pretty straight forward, only requiring you to have certain materials and if you’re making equipment, money, but actually getting these items is the hard part. While some crafting materials can be taken from gathering spots during missions, or found at the village, the rest will require you to face said monsters and take them forcefully.
The different creatures that you fight are definitely the main starts of Monster Hunter. Each type requires a different approach, with different attacks and weaknesses needing to be taken into account. As you defeat more and more monsters, you start to learn when to attack and to hang back, improving in every consecutive hunt. A well timed use of an item will also help greatly – traps can be used to incapacitate or capture monsters, and thrown bombs will counter specific attacks or moves.
There’s also a great variety of weapons that can be used to tackle each encounter. My personal favourite is the switch axe, which has the ability to switch between axe and sword modes, allowing for long combos and massive damage. Other weapon types include the weak but speedy dual blades and the long sword, which is a good all-rounder. Those that prefer fighting from a distance can use bows, which also allow for different ammo types that can add new properties to your arrows.
You’ll likely find one type you enjoy using most early on and stick with it, but you can easily switch to others – thanks to the omission of character classes, anyone can use all weapon types, allowing for some variety. In fact, that’s one of Monster Hunter’s greatest strengths. Forgoing usual RPG staples like levels and weapon proficiency encourages experimentation while also letting you switch tactics for different enemies.
While Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is the best iteration of the series in most areas, the portable version has some problems not found in its console brethren. The decision not to include online multiplayer is the main drawback ,especially for a game such as this. While the online content can be accessed in singleplayer in Port Tanzia, a separate area that acts as a meeting spot for hunting groups, it’s not the same as gathering a group of like-minded hunters to take on tough monsters. I don’t really see why this is something that had to be removed, since it’s been proven by games like Super Street Fighter 4 and Kid Icarus: uprising that multiplayer can be done well on the 3DS. Even if this might not have been much of a problem in Japan, where you’re more likely to find players nearby, Capcom should have learned by now that online play is a must for western players.
Another less severe problem comes from the 3DS’ lack of a second circle pad for camera movement. You can use the circle pad attachment, but this makes the console a lot less portable, even more so with the already large 3DS XL. Ultimate’s compromise, a d-pad on the touchscreen, work well in most cases, but underwater battles can be troublesome since they require a lot of camera movement. The ability to switch to an out-aim mode which shifts the camera towards the monster you are fighting with a press of the L button is helpful, but it still doesn’t feel as intuitive as having a second physical circle pad.
If you can overlook these problems, or if you planned on playing solo anyway, then Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is the perfect game to have on the go. You can quickly fight a monster or two whenever time is permitting or, as you will most likely find, you can spend hours fighting, crafting and improving your hunting skills. Those that prefer hunting in groups may want to pick up the Wii U version instead, unless they have a dedicated group of 3DS hunters to fight some monsters with.