Published on April 2nd, 2013 | by octaneblue0
Review: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
System(s): 3DS, Wii U
Release Date: March 19, 2013
The Monster Hunter franchise is absolutely huge in Japan, and has a cult following elsewhere. Fans were understandably disappointed when Monster Hunter Portable 3rd for the PSP, as well as its HD equivalent on the PlayStation 3, were not released outside of Japan. And it became even more of an issue when Capcom kept quiet on the release of Monster Hunter Tri G for the 3DS, an expanded version of the Wii’s Monster Hunter Tri, outside of Japan. Eventually, Capcom announced that the game, known internationally as Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, would indeed be released in the West, and an HD version for the Wii U was announced too. Featuring an expanded roster of monsters, weapons, armors, and more, is Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for the Wii U worth checking out? Whether you’re a newcomer to the series or a Monster Hunter veteran, the answer is a resounding yes.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate can be summed up as a vastly expanded version of Monster Hunter Tri, originally released on the Wii. The Wii edition lays the foundation for this game, but 3 Ultimate features several elements from Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, including nearly every new monster that appeared in that game, as well as a great deal of all-new content too. Monster Hunter Tri featured several weapon types, but a chunk of the ones in the previous title, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, were cut from Tri. Those weapons, the Gunlance, Bow, Hunting Horn, and Dual Blades, are back in this edition.
If you’re new to Monster Hunter, the game is a fantastic starting point into the series. The main goal in the game, as indicated by its title, is to hunt monsters. But there’s much more to the game than that. Each of the boss monsters has a different attack set, so it definitely takes time mastering each fight. Killing monsters results in carves and rewards that results in being able to craft armors, weapons, etc. Certain items have certain drop rates, which results in going through quests multiple times to get that specific part. This may sound tedious, and it certainly gets that way sometimes, but it quickly becomes addicting going for those parts to craft needed weapons and armor sets. Items such as Flash Bombs, traps, and so forth assist with defeating monsters, but even certain items need collected parts to create them. You can gather items during gathering quests, or purchase some from items shops with money earned from quests.
The game features greatly expanded modes for both single-player and multiplayer quests. The single-player village features more quests featuring the new monsters and areas. Monster Hunter Tri featured a Shakalaka named Cha-Cha as your companion; 3 Ultimate includes a second Shakalaka down the line named Kayamba to further assist you during quests. These two can buff your character with stat boosts, heal you, attack monsters, and so on. The second assisting NPC definitely helps out newcomers, but those wanting more of a challenge during quests can leave one or both of them behind. The village quests are further expanded with new high-rank quests that are eventually unlocked, and the free hunt mode (Moga Woods) has also been expanded, featuring monsters that don’t usually appear in that area.
Another new addition in 3 Ultimate is the Tavern. This is essentially the Guild Hall from the PSP titles, where you can hunt in multiplayer quests. You can run these solo if you wish, or you can choose to bring your Shakalaka companions. Unlike Monster Hunter Tri, where you could only access the high-ranked quests online, you can access any of the quests online or offline. Returning to series in this game is the G-Rank. Returning from Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on the PSP, G-Rank is essentially the game’s “very hard” mode, and includes new monsters, and much of the previously-encountered monsters have new moves. The Tavern features a local multiplayer mode, where a Wii U owner can play with up to three others on the 3DS version of the game; exclusive to the Wii U version of the game is the network mode, where the hunts are taken online.
The online mode of Monster Hunter Tri was one of the key selling points of that game. You could go online with friends, or meet up with random others, and participate in multiplayer quests. The online mode in 3 Ultimate features a more simpler interface, with a simple text-based layout, rather than having your character run around to different online lobbies to access hunting rooms. What’s great is that rooms can now be password-protected, so random players can no longer intrude in your room created with your friends. Hosts of the room can also kick other players out, a feature sorely lacking in Tri. In that game, disruptive players could stay in rooms as long as they wanted. So with these new additions, online experiences are much better than before. Online play is also very smooth and stable. The only main flaw with the online play is that when a host creates a room, and then they get disconnected for whatever reason, the whole room disconnects, which is rather unfortunate. Like Tri, 3 Ultimate features separate online servers for North America, Europe/Australia, and Japan. In April 2013, however, Capcom is set to release an update that merges the servers for North America and Europe, a great new addition for more fans of the series to interact with one another. And Capcom is delivering new, downloadable quests and extra content weekly, so even if you’ve gone through much of the game, there’s going to be new content just around the corner for some time.
3 Ultimate offers multiple control schemes, which includes the Wii U GamePad, the Wii U Pro Controller, and the Wii Remote with the Classic Controller. The GamePad functionality with the game is great, with the controller’s display featuring helpful functionality that’s extremely versatile. You can have the TV’s normal HUD moved to the GamePad, or have touch-based shortcuts, such as ones for items, on the screen; it’s very customizable. GamePad play is actually very comfortable, and movements and controlling your characters is quite easy with it. In the online mode, the GamePad is central for online communication, featuring a keyboard display for text chatting and built-in voice chat functionality. As announced by Capcom, an update in April 2013 adds in Off-TV Play support, a very handy feature for any Wii U title.
The graphics of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Wii U are essentially remastered from Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii, and supports 1080p resolution. Most of the character models of the boss monsters are vastly improved. Also enhanced is the lighting in each of the areas. For instance, monsters in the volcano will glow from the lava in the area. It’s a very nice touch. Shadows are dynamic, meaning they are in the shape of the monsters or hunters, rather than just a black oval. While plenty of the graphical aspects of 3 Ultimate are nice, there are some really noticeable low-res graphics in some sections of the game, and look like they weren’t touched from Tri. All that is rather minor though, as it doesn’t affect the gameplay.
When choosing between the 3DS and Wii U versions, the 3DS version offers portability, but the Wii U version features, most notably, HD graphics, GamePad functionality, and online play. The 3DS version features local-only multiplayer, but both feature the same content. If you are able to pick up both versions, you can transfer your save file between the two, via a free download tool, so you can continue the hunts at home or on the go.
Featuring hundreds and hundreds of hours of potential playability, including a great online mode on the Wii U version, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is as addicting as its predecessors. It serves as an awesome introduction to the series, yet appeals to series veterans with new monsters, quests, weapons, armor sets, and much more. As its name indicates, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is truly the ultimate Monster Hunter title.
+ Expanded content
+ New online interface and features
+ Remastered HD graphics
– Some noticeably low-res textures
– Online room hosts disconnecting cancels out everyone
Final score: 4.75 out of 5
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