Published on March 19th, 2013 | by Davis Fan0
[Game Review] Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Wii U)
Summary: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will surely satisfy series diehards with its addictive multiplayer and epic hunts. However, the single player missions and steep learning curve still holds the series back from reaching a wider audience.
Traditionally, the Monster Hunter series has been unpopular on western shores. Despite its western motif, it never quite caught on until the release of Monster Hunter Tri. With the release of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, an update of Tri, Capcom has updated the game to include more monsters and features, and upped the resolution to satisfy this generation’s gamers to create a new title that will once again entrance fan and (hopefully) pull in newcomers.
Players are thrown into a village as a fledgling hunter, tasked with rebuilding the Moga Village by gathering resources and fulfilling requests from the local guild. While early quests have players scavenging for small items and taking down smaller marks, the game slowly gives increasingly difficult tasks with larger monsters and scarce, hidden items. However, it was often frustrating trying to find these; the game offered few hints, which meant a constant process of trial-and-error, looking in different areas for monsters and scavenging different piles of debris. Thankfully, these are not totally randomized, so guides and previous experiences with Tri will prove fruitful.
Without the proper preparation, however, any mission in Monster Hunter will go to waste. While most levels provide a basic set of supplies, more difficult missions will require more than that and players will do well to stock up on healing items and whetstones to sharpen their dulled weapons. Likewise, with the item bag’s finite space, any harvest mission where the bag has not been emptied beforehand will end up a waste.
With most weapons being large and clunky, combat bears a steep learning curve for players. Unlike other titles where attacks can be done consequence free, most animations have long recovery frames that will frustrate newcomers to the series. The inclusion of large, dangerous monsters unrelated to the mission bring extra excitement for monster hunting veterans, but only exacerbate the issue for newer players. Alternatively, lighter weapons allow for more mobility but will make for long, drawn out missions due to their meager damage, essentially confining players to the stronger – yet slower –weapons. Even with these, larger monsters take roughly half an hour to both locate and take down; with that much time invested, any loss is devastating enough for users to power off their systems.
Though the single player campaign can be limiting experience, multiplayer is where Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate shines. Connecting to others, whether it be through local multiplayer between a Wii U and up to three other 3DS systems or the game’s online mode, is easy and quick. Online, there’s an abundance of lobbies and rooms all labeled for players’ needs. Players wary of random hunters online can freely lock their rooms with a password, saving three of the four precious slots for friends only.
Quests with other players take on a whole new dimension. Rather than the limited range of viable weapons and constant fruitless searches, bringing in three other teammates means that more weapons become practical, or even essential, and groups of hunters can cover several portions of the map at once, finding targets within minutes. In fact, a team composed only of large weapons only made hunts chaotic, each weapon disrupting another’s attacks. This places an emphasis on both team chemistry and preparation over raw power. Teamwork is only made easier with the game’s implementation of the Wii U’s microphone, which can be turned on or off easily with a single tap, and I had few games where communication was an issue.
On the presentation front, the game tries to catch up to the current generation but ultimately falls short. The title boasts an impressive draw distance in the open plains and graphics are notably sharper than its Wii counterpart, but there is still a world of difference between this and other games – even other Wii U titles. Sadly, the Game Pad is only used for action panels that will largely be ignored. After all, who would actually look back and forth between the two screens? Hopefully, this will be patched in the future to take better advantage of the Game Pad and provide the Off TV Play that lazy gamers love oh-so-much.
Wii U owners have been starved for a title like this for a long time. It’s challenging and speaks to the hardcore gamer base. In addition, the quests and the game’s time drain nature will keep gamers glued to it for a long time to come. Casual gamers may be turned off by the steep learning curve, but there’s no reason why any hardcore gamer shouldn’t check Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate out.
Available on: 3DS, Wii U; Publisher: Capcom; Developer: Capcom; Players: 1 – 4; Released: March 19, 2013; ESRB: Teen; MSRP: $59.99 (Wii U), $39.99 (3DS)
Note: A retail copy was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.