Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on Nintendo 3DS
In the modern era, humanity by and large doesn’t find itself facing legendary beasts many times its own size. We no longer battle against huge bears, vicious felines, or crocodilian remnants of prehistory in a never ending struggle to survive. The human race instead finds itself in a daily struggle against the forces of economic power and political persuasion, battles which last many years yet leave the individuals with nothing to show for it. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate harkens back to days gone by, rewarding your efforts and preparing you for those to come. A time when people from across the globe would fight to feed themselves and their families, a time which Capcom replicates beautifully in this latest outing of the Monster Hunter series.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate puts you into the shoes of a fledgling hunter, just trying to make for themselves in the world. Right from the off, you’re thrust into a tug of war with monstrous creatures often many times your own size. At first the struggle can seem futile. These beasts can block out the sun when they stand, so you might ask how can a lowly hunter who still has trouble tying their shoelaces stand a chance. The whole activity of making yourself capable of bringing down the foes thrown before you while simultaneously preparing for greater struggles to come is Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. No matter how far you come, there’s something more vicious waiting in the wings to end your life.
More often than not that thing with massive teeth waiting in the wings, has wings.
In order for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate to succeed, it had to bring enough of a meal to the table to satiate long-time fans while whetting the appetite of players who thought the only monster hunting game this month was Evolve. At almost every turn Capcom have been able to achieve this lofty goal, which will become clear soon enough.
So lets start with the most important aspect of any Monster Hunter game. The meat of a meal which will fill your stomach for many a day to come. Those monsters. Creatures from the annals of time gone by all make their appearances in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. Everything from the lowly Great Jaggi to the terrifying Tigrex finds its way into a roster of over 70 larger monsters. This frankly insane number isn’t full of unique and special designs though. While the majority of beasts are different from each other, some are simply variants of other creatures with a new ability here or a different visual appearance there.
Every single one of the imposing creatures is so beautifully designed and incredibly well animated that even without the 3DS’ visual tricks, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re going to climb out of the screen to kill you. The wolf-like movements of a Zinogre invoke that same primal fear in anyone that our ancestors once felt. Swooping strikes from an angered Rathalos are so beautifully animated that your mind is taken back to the cold-sweat dreams that plagued your mind as a child.
Even the newer monsters have been given the attention one might expect to only be afforded to franchise favorites. Nerscylla are three-storey tall spiders with backs covered in a forest of poisonous crystals many times your own size. A terrifying prospect to fight when you only know this about them. Even more pant-wettingly scary when you watch their motions, stopping and twitching with sinister jolts. All of the creatures which show their faces for the first time in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate set a similar flame alight in the hearts of players both new and old.
Worthy of a special mention is the Gore Magala. This massive dragon-esque monster shows off the vast amount detail put into the beasts of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate beautifully, along with some of its new features. By looks alone, the Gore Magala oozes with xenomorph DNA and presents a challenge for even the most seasoned of hunters. It’s even introduced in a way which is totally new to the outings of this franchise on 3DS. At crucial points in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate‘s single player offline story, you’ll be thrust into unique arenas to do battle with monsters on never-before-seen battlefields with special elements adorning each one. Spearing the Gore Magala with harpoons attached to a ship is its own little treasure.
Another new element to the series adds an inspired mechanic to keep you on your toes in the most challenging of battles. The Gore Magala has spread a frenzy virus into the world, granting other monsters untold levels of strength and changing up the gameplay entirely when you face them. This virus can afflict the player, who will then be unable to regenerate health naturally unless they can deal a significant amount of damage to their own personal patient zero. In a game where one usually expects to be carefully holding back from rash attacks, the virus mutates battles like this into a race against time. Do enough damage, and you’ll become even stronger than you were before.
Risk and reward have always played an important role in Monster Hunter, so it’s a good sign that the ideal has been both embraced and improved upon in this latest iteration. When looking at what exactly you’re awarded with, we need to take a look at the armory.