Have you ever wished you could just kill things and wear their skins as a coat? If so, then Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is right up your and, let’s be honest here, my alley. Monster Hunter 4 is a hunting simulation that promises much more action and excitement than those redneck big game hunter arcade games will ever deliver.
Release: February 13, 2015
Platform: Nintendo 3ds
In Monster Hunter 4, you pick one of a myriad of different types of weapons and armor sets and set out to kill various giant monsters, usually to carve out their horns and hides and whatnot to use to make better weapons and armor. Each different type of weapon has its own strengths, weaknesses, and fighting styles. For example, the great sword is slow to swing but hits like a truck, while the longsword is a bit faster, but breaks easily. Each weapon also has different skills and combos, like the ability to jump or go into a berserk mode. Similarly, the armor sets have different passive skills that you can get. There are also tons of different items to use, all of which can save your hide while you’re trying to take theirs.
The controls in Monster Hunter are a little difficult to get used to at first. In a way, they are similar to the controls in the Dark Souls series in that it is usually a bad idea to just madly swing your weapon at everything that moves. Your swings and dodges tend to have long recovery times, so they must be deliberate or you will find yourself in a lot of pain. Also, unless you are using the smaller weapon types, your character will move extremely slowly if she is wielding her weapon. Most of the slow movements are easy to get used to, but I still cannot figure out exactly why my character feels the need to do a little victory dance every time she uses a potion.
Monster Hunter is entirely instance-based, as opposed to being a free-roam game. You pick up all of your quests from a central hub before loading into the zones where all the monsters are at. The adventure zones are all split up into different, numbered sections of the map which you phase between. This does make the game feel a little slow and tedious at times, especially since most of the large monsters will flee from you into one of the other zones when hurt.
Finally, one of the biggest features of Monster Hunter is the ability to connect your 3ds to a wireless network and hunt monsters with up to three of your friends. The monsters are much harder in the online versions of the quests, and taking down colossal beasts is just much more rewarding when you share that moment with your friends.
The story is about as basic as the title suggests. You are a monster hunter, so you hunt monsters. The only real sight of story you get is in the quest dialogue where someone will mention their caravan is blocked by a dinosaur or something.
For a handheld, the graphics in Monster Hunter are pretty solid. The character models look cool, especially as you start to decorate their clothes with the bones of you fallen enemies. The monsters themselves have various amazing designs, ranging from the goofy to the terrifying. The world is very pretty in some spots, especially when looking out into the distance, but some of the things you interact with look weird. For example, the treetops you walk or climb on look like a mesh of green wire or netting.
Occasionally, usually the first time you find each large monster, you will come across a little cinematic. These cinematics are a vast improvement of the graphics and are the best time to get a really good look at how awesome your character looks in their armor. It’s also probably the only time you’ll see your character’s eye color, which is nice.
Some of the music in this game is really catchy. The music that plays during the big fights really make you feel like you are taking place in something epic, even if all you’re doing is just slaughtering a giant spider for street cred. The ambient music and sounds are nice, and each monster has their own calls that make them seem as if they could easily have been real life animals. In character creation, you get to choose from a set of over a dozen different voices, both male and female, which is impressive, but all you’ll hear them say are mid-combat grunts and yells and the phrase “It’s so tasty!” as you cook a steak.
A new copy of Monster Hunter 4 costs $39.99 at most stores, which is a step in the right direction from the usual $60 price tag we’ve come to expect from console games. With that in mind, there is easily over 100 hours’ worth of gameplay in the base game, that is, without taking into account the periodic free DLC that comes out, usually involving a new quest to hunt a new monster. That being said, it is easily worth the price tag.
Monster Hunter is an extremely fun game that I’ve taken to playing for short bursts of 20 minutes to an hour and a half nearly every day, since it’s fairly easy to finish a quest in that time. In fact, most of the quests have an hour time limit. Each time I’ve gotten myself new materials and sometimes new weapons and armor, and it’s just fun to look at your character after a while to see how much cooler she looks now compared to when she was wearing crappy starter armor. Even the difference between when you turn the game on to when you quit and save is fun to compare. It’s kind of like another Barbie doll game, giant monstricide version. There’s much more technical stuff like weapon and armor upgrading and upgrade paths and all sorts of things that would take too long to get too deep into, but all in all, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is a game that I highly recommend.
-Difficult controls at first
-Hub-zone style gameplay