Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: review

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Collin Houldsworth

The titular monster hunter along side his two cat companions on a hunt in Capcom's Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (MH4U) was released in America on February 13, 2015 exclusively on Nintendo 3DS systems by Capcom. Many fans were upset when Nintendo announced exclusivity on Monster Hunter however now that the game is out it’s clear that both Capcom and Nintendo made the right decision.

One of the key new features of MH4U is the ability to mount a monster. All the new levels and areas are designed with verticality in mind, so everywhere you go you’ll find ledges, cliffs, walls, and any other similar surfaces to climb. Climbing these new surfaces is very easy and unhindered because you, as the character, are able to climb many of the smaller surfaces without having to push a button or even put away your weapon. If you attack a monster after jumping off from a higher elevation you’ll execute a jumping attack. If you land enough jump attacks on the monster you’ll knock it over and mount it.
Once mounted the player will be prompted with a small mini-game where they need to manage their stamina while both trying to hang on and attack the monster. If the player succeeds in the mount attempt the monster will be knocked over for a small period of time allowing the player(s) to attacks as much as they can.

This new feature was heavily marketed by Capcom, so much to point where it seemed almost a gimmick. However the ability to air attack and mount are both very fun and well implemented into the game due the fact that mounting is very useful and because every area has places to jump from. Other than the new jumping attacks the Monster Hunter formula has stayed the same. Fight a monster, kill it, carve its parts, and use its parts to make new weapons and armor and its just as addictive as its ever been.

The combat system has been revamped giving all the weapons types new moves making combat flow much more smoothly. The two new weapons added to the game, Charge Blade and Insect Glave, are both very fun and fit very well into the game. The Charge Blade is insanely hard to learn however absolutely devastating for anyone good enough to master it making it the ideal weapon for Monster Hunter veterans while the Insect Glave is very easy, flashy, and fun giving players the ability to perform jumping attacks, and subsequent mounts, with just a simple button press making it the weapon that most new players will be drawn to. However in order to use it effectively players must circle the monster indirectly learning the monster attack patterns making it the best weapon for new player because it teaches a large part the game subtly to the player.

Another new edition to MH4U is the 4 player online co-op. While it is true that every Monster Hunter game has had a form of local co-op and the WiiU version of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate did have internet enabled multiplayer, MH4U is the first handheld Monster Hunter game that had native online multiplayer at launch. So far any game that tries online play on the 3DS has been everything but playable so it was refreshing to see that MH4U online works almost perfectly, with the only problems being the occasional lag spike or dropped game. None of online errors you’ll encounter are anything you wouldn’t find in a typical console release game. The online user face can be a little clunky at times. However after spending a little time with it, you’ll be able to get in and out of games with ease.

The only real problem with the online is communication. When in an online lobby players can talk freely using the 3DS touch screen as a keyboard however there is a 30 character per message limit that makes communication quite difficult at times, on the plus side a game about killing monster’s no longer censors the word “kill” like Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate did, so that’s nice. When on an actual hunt player are restricted to only 18 pre-made messages and while this does make communication difficult the inability to talk freely while on hunt was most likely the result of technical issues.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is one of the first Monster Hunter games to really try to have a story; however, it’s nothing special and you can get the same experience by just skipping all the dialog. Although for what it’s worth the game is very funny, its clear that the localization team really had a lot of fun translating this game.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is not only the best Monster Hunter game but it’s also one of the best games on the 3DS. The changes to the combat plus the added addition of online multiplayer make Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate a handheld experience you won’t want to miss.