The word “compelling” apparently gets thrown around gaming a lot these days (though to be fair I’ve seen more people make fun of the word compelling than use it) but the word that I would use to describe Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is…rewarding. As a game it is proof of all the sayings that our parents used when we were growing up in order to illustrate that with work and patience comes reward.
This theme of truly being rewarded for your efforts is something that is present throughout the game, most noticeably in the central focus of the game, the hunting itself. As anyone who has played the series will know players do not merely hunt creatures to add to a list of things they have killed (in fact you don’t always kill the “monster” that you are hunting) there is something that you can get out of each kill if you are smart about it.
Take one of the first weapons that I made for example, the Jaggid Shotels. In order to get the necessary materials for those two swords (dual wield) to be made I had to find multiple different parts different monsters (i.e. claws and hides) I also had to locate some very specific crystals from a cave by mining them. This is one of the weapons from the early section of the game so I am not saying that doing so was difficult and more powerful weapons will be more demanding but in order to get the weapons I had to do work beyond merely paying for my shiny new dual wielded swords. Because of this I found getting a new sword that I wanted to be a rewarding experience and I am sure that people who have played games with similar experiences will agree.
The point is that you will get out of the game exactly what you put into it, if you want to get the most out of the plants find them and to go the village farm, if you want to get more supplies from sea, gather resources and send a boat out.
While the game does make you work for what you want to get I never got the impression that it had unreasonable expectations on the player. As a first time gamer to the series I found this to be helpful. Whenever the game assigned a task to me that I had yet to attempt it made sure that I was aware what would be involved in said task. When I came across a giant sea monster at the beginning of the game it was made very clear that I couldn’t fight it and I should avoid it and run away entirely. There is however one piece of information that was lacking, it is information that is often lacking in other such games and it is information that, as a gamer, I would really like to become more of a staple, and that is enemy health bars. I will concede that in this game it probably wouldn’t be necessary for the weaker monsters but when facing larger foes it really would be helpful. I have read someone say that it would ruin the surprise of when you finally kill your target but I have always believed that knowing exactly how much health my opponent has is an essential part in determining what strategy I will employ against them at any time. I hope that this is a feature that will be at least optional in future games.
I was a newcomer to the Monster Hunter series before this review and I wasn’t sure about it before really diving into it. I didn’t have much luck with the demo but after playing it my mind has been change and I realize that I was playing with the wrong weapon. The weapon types are varied and different styles of taking down monsters are provided for, personally speaking I favoured the dual blades or the sword and shield approach. However there are also lances, hammers and even bigger swords among other things for people with different fighting styles.
One thing that you, the reader may have noticed is that I have yet to comment on version differences or say one thing about either the Wii U version or the 3DS version of the gameplay. That is because it is truly a single experience, the Wii U of course has the advantage in being able to offer much more in terms of screen real estate (even when playing on the gamepad) but I switched between the two consoles frequently in playing the game for this review and at no point did I find the change jarring. I found the data transfer easy to set up and it was quickly done.
I imagine that readers who are thinking about buying this game digitally are worried about not having a circle pad pro. At the time of writing I do not own a circle pad pro but the second directional pad on the screen was very easy to use. The one drawback to doing so is that it did sometimes move my 3DS enough to disrupt the 3D effect, something to consider if the 3D element of the 3DS is important to you. I am sure that the circle pad pro would add to the experience but I want to assure readers on a budget that it is not essential
In terms of aesthetics this is a game that is very pleasant to look at. There are a lot of bright colours and when you go out into the wild you truly get the sense that you are in a big environment, helped by the fact that upon entering each new hunting location for the first time the game will give you an impressive view of the area that you are about to explore.
The monster design is equally impressive, I encountered a variety of different sizes and shapes on my travels throughout the game and the loot that I received from these monsters resulted in some very interesting looking weaponry.
We received a review copy for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. All opinions are honest and of the minds of the Paranerds.com staff. This review was made using two review copies provided by Nintendo, one for the Nintendo Wii U and one for the Nintendo 3DS