Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By André Eriksson 03.03.2015 5

Review for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on Nintendo 3DS

The latest addition in one of Capcom's greatest franchises of modern times is here. With a lot of monsters, arenas and brutal monster hunting action, Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate has the premise to be a wonderful game. Will it live up to that? Cubed3 has the answer.

In a world where giant dragons, dinosaurs, and other kinds of monsters live just next door to human settlements, only specially trained monster hunters stand between the primal destructive forces of the wild and human civilisation. Being a monster hunter is an important task indeed, but a dangerous one at that. Only the very best can survive and the ones who are not prepared die in their shift. Welcome to the world of Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate, where danger awaits in every corner. Let the hunt begin!

When starting up Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate as an regular player of the series, it is like coming back home after a holiday. Everything is so familiar, yet things have happened during the absence. Welcomed additions have improved everyday life. Everything is the same, but still different… in the best possible way. For the new players out there, there has never been a better time to get into the Monster Hunter series.

The concept of Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate is the same simple, yet winning formula that has kept Monster Hunter afloat to this day: to slay monsters, big monsters. Monster Hunter could simply be described as an adventure RPG game with almost only boss battles, but that description would not do the formula true justice. The secret of Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate and what makes it so great is the clever design of both the monsters and the surrounding mechanics for gearing and getting items.

Screenshot for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on Nintendo 3DS

The list of monsters is very extensive and surprisingly diverse. One of the weaker sides of Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate was the fact that most monsters were different forms of either dinosaurs or dragons. This has been fixed here in favour of more based on existing animals. A big highlight is an extremely long snakelike monster that wraps around the player, just like a snake that is about to catch its prey. Or a crablike monster that attacks from below and walks sideways with its water beam in its attempt to kill the hunters designated to slay it. This creates a great assortment of monsters. There is a total of 98 different monsters to slay, wherein 75 of them are large, boss creatures. There is no chance of this ending quickly, not by any means.

What point is there having such a vast number if the experience itself is not good? No need to worry, since Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate covers the aspect of quality as well. With its simple to learn yet hard to master combat system, it makes every boss battle feel unique, yet familiar. The combat mechanics are mostly learned within five minutes of practicing, but it might take hundreds of hours to get truly familiar with them, especially if deciding to play with more than one weapon class, as one of the greatest things with the series is the wide range of weapon classes. Each one feels like playing an entirely different game. The mechanics are so different if choosing to rock the slow, hard-hitting Hammer than if choosing to take on the swift and agile Dual Blades. This to ensure there is a weapon class for all kinds of players to feel comfortable with.

Screenshot for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on Nintendo 3DS

When Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate does continue to build on the legacy of the franchise, it offers a lot of welcomed additions to the series as a whole. Monster Hunter Tri introduced underwater combat, which was not quite as successful as water levels overall and for obvious reasons are not so popular. In doing so, however, the developer opened up the idea of exploring 3D movements in the series, something that has been fully implemented in Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate. This means that now there are many more climbable surfaces. Almost all areas contain one or more climbable wall to make movement easier and more fluid. This is also used in combat to perform jump attacks that have the chance of letting the player mount the boss monster, which is an extremely fun, effective, and ingenious way of interacting with the surroundings of the world. This adds a lot of depth into an already deep battle system.

Another very big thing that is the added online functionality, since while the third generation of Monster Hunter games had online on the home console release, it did not have that in the portable versions - a decision most likely made based on the games' target demographic of Japan, as in Japan Monster Hunter is extremely big and it is not hard to find people on the subway or similar places to play with. Over here in West, however, the series is even to this day considered pretty niche, which means that it is hard finding people to explore the multiplayer portion of the game with, unless there is online or if people have a large circle of friends. The stigma of even playing videogames does not help. Therefore, this change is a very important one to fully enjoy the game, especially for those living outside of Japan.

Screenshot for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on Nintendo 3DS

There is, however, one problem with Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate and the franchise overall, which is the main reason why it never hit big here in West: its steep learning curve. Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate has little to no handholding as the player starts to explore the world. A short tutorial is given to learn how to kill things and combine potions, but that's about it. After that, gamers are on their own and it is a dangerous world to be in. Even at the start of the game, the difficulty level is very cruel on newcomers and it only gets worse. It is very important for the player to quickly learn the combat system and the resource management and gearing in the caravan in-between missions. This touches upon another reason that contributes to the titles' unpopularity in the West: grinding. Monster Hunter is, hands down, one of the most 'grindy' games out there, other than is MMORPGs - it has a looting system that makes most MMORPGs seem generous, by comparison. Later on, to get some armour, some parts are needed to build it but they are extremely rare, with about a 1-2% drop rate. This is very painful indeed as many boss battles take between 10-20 minutes. However, the reward is worth it.

If able to enjoy, or at least withstand, the extreme grinding elements and an initially steep learning curve, Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate is indeed a must buy. It offers some of the best combat in the world of gaming and one of the most complex gearing systems ever seen. The extreme diversity in the monsters and weapon classes creates a game that never gets stale and hundreds, maybe even thousands, of hours into it, the game still has a lot more to teach the player. Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate offers a range of content and a time sink that all but the most grind-filled MMORPGs cannot even dream to compare with… and it offers a fun time while doing so.

Returning to the world of Monster Hunter in Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate has so far been a true pleasure and to all new players there is not much more to say than "Welcome, and enjoy the stay." Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate offers the best of every game in the series so far and adds a lot of new ingredients to the mix as well.

Screenshot for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate offers the most complete experience in the series to date. Playing it is like coming home after a long holiday to find that someone has sold the house and bought a mansion with the money. Capcom's latest has all the best elements that the series has offered up to this date, mixed in with new and interesting features, proving the development team still has what it takes to make great games.

With all that said, though, it is not without some flaws. For newcomers to the series, for instance, a steep learning curve filled with difficulty spikes awaits and while it is better than in previous entries with regards to this, it is something that might very well turn off a lot of new players. It is important to understand that Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate is not a game for everyone - far from it - but for those who it is aimed at, it might very well be one of the best games ever made. If Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate sounds appealing, then welcome aboard! Hundreds (or thousands!) of hours of monster slaying and a big online community await. A newcomer bonus is that all of the 98 monsters, 75 of which are boss battles within, will be entirely new experiences.

Also known as

Monster Hunter 4G

Developer

Capcom

Publisher

Capcom

Genre

Adventure

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

No thoughts from MH4U players here? Mush, SirLink, etc?

I've still not had chance to try it, and don't think the loan copy is ever going to turn up now, sadly. Thanks for covering this, André! Very high score indeed.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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I haven't gotten around to posting my extended thoughts here so far because I've been too busy playing the game whenever possible (even a quest or two during my lunch break!), but I suppose that says more about how much I love the game than any praise I could post here. I'm 166 hours into it thanks to two perfectly timed weeks off work right after it came out and I've barely scratched the surface of all there is to do. Smilie

Smilie Wow - that's crazy Smilie It's THAT big?! Or are you just taking your time, wandering around and soaking it all up, like I did with Xenoblade? I didn't even tuck into that game's main story until many, many hours of playing around with the other stuff to do.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I'm not rushing through it like I did with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, but I'm still quite focused on progress and efficiency (no loafing around during hunts!), doing all the quests and keeping one weapon of almost every type up to date. André definitely wasn't joking when he meant thousands of hours. Smilie Just for reference, I've spent 850 hours on Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and this game has FAR more content than it.

Yes Adam, it is that big. I was around 100 hours in while writing the review and I can tell you that there was A LOT more to go. I barely touched multiplayer beside a quick session with SirLink to test online and with some friends (ok that was a LONG one weekend session, but still...) to try out local multiplayer and celebrate the games release.

In MH3U I have played over 600 hours and yet not done everything there is. The MH games are really meaty and why they are so great. It is extremely great value offered for the money spent.

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

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