Put the rest of your life on hold, it’s time to hunt some monsters.
The Monster Hunter series of games have not quite managed to reach the dizzying heights of popularity in the UK that they have in other countries. The series seems to have a really dividing effect on players here, with them finding the games either unbelievably dull or becoming so obsessed with catching monsters that other parts of their life suffer as a result. As is the nature of things, Capcom really don’t want the monster hunters out there to actually have a life that doesn’t revolve playing their games, and so they have now released Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for 3DS and Wii U. Here we are going to take a look at the 3DS version of the game.
If you have yet to sample the pleasures of monster hunting, it’s not exactly a deep concept to get your head around. The player, surprisingly, hunts monsters. There is a bit more to it than that, with the player taking on quests to help the members of their village, which could involve having to collect things or defeat certain monsters. It is from the quests that the player will get most of their motivation to hunt monsters, at least until that “gotta catch ‘em all” mentality kicks in and the player finds themselves hunting for the next biggest or strongest monsters.
And thankfully there are an absolute ton of monsters in this new Ultimate version of Monster Hunter 3. It is the monsters that are perhaps the most impressive aspect of the game, both in their scope and variety, and in their looks. On the 3DS, things look a little less impressive than on the Wii U, which is understandable. That being said, it does look very good for a 3DS game, with the monsters being a highlight. They are large and foreboding, very detailed and have a really nice depth with the 3D effect turned on. Everything else looks merely adequate in comparison – the environments are varied but lack the detail found on the monsters, and the same can be said for the characters. Due to the scale of the monsters, the characters look small and somewhat insignificant. Then there is the on-screen text, which is very small and difficult to see, and gets even worse with the 3D turned on. Without the Wii U version to compare it to, the 3DS looks good, but after seeing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Wii U, it is just disappointing.
Alongside the huge number of different monsters and more than 200 quests, there are loads of different weapons or armour sets to get to grips with and a hefty crafting system to learn about. In fact, and this may be off-putting to those that are new to the game, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate spends a lot of time in the early game slowly introducing the player to all the different aspects of monster hunting, including the different weapons. Actual instruction is a bit thin on the ground, but then it will be a good few hours of learning before the player discovers everything they need to know. Because of this, the game starts very slowly and can take a while to pick up momentum. But, unlike most games, Monster Hunter works by improving the skills of the player as well as the character in the game and by the time the player is really let loose, they will be grateful for the slow start as they will have everything they need for the extensive challenge ahead, a challenge which can easily surpass 100 hours of gameplay.
Controls on the 3DS could have been a problem, due to the lack of the second analog stick. This is most easily overcome by picking up the Circle Pad Pro (or recently released Circle Pad Pro XL) and adding that extra stick. But even those who don’t/can’t fork out for the additional equipment, Capcom have you covered with some impressive touch screen use. The 3DS touch screen is fully customisable with a virtual d-pad along with plenty of other options. It is the best alternative to the Circle Pad Pro possible, although certain areas of the game still suffer from the lack of precise camera control, specifically the underwater sections.
Of course, monster hunting is more fun with friends. Sharing the success in a particularly difficult quest is exhilarating and will be a strong reason for playing for many gamers. This makes the absence of online multiplayer a mystery, especially when we already know the 3DS is capable of it. Instead, the player is left with local multiplayer, either with 3DS buddies who also happen to have the cart, or with the Wii U version. Setting up a local game is simple, but doesn’t quite make up for the lack of online play.
Well, I suppose that we had better get to the big question, the one every multi-format owning Monster Hunter fan wants to know the answer to – which version is best, Wii U or 3DS. For those of you out there who want to stretch their mighty monster hunting muscles and happen to own both formats, that is a bit of a tricky question. Realistically, to get the best of the monster hunting experience, it would probably be a good idea to pick up both versions of the game, which would happily take advantage of the cross-saving and local multiplayer with one player on the Wii U and the other on 3DS.
Essentially, it is the same game on both formats. Of course, with the Wii U version you get the larger screen which makes the on-screen text much easier to see, and the monsters easier to navigate. You also get the two analog sticks which makes playing the game that little bit easier without having to pick up a Circle Pad Pro unit. But then the 3DS version is cheaper, portable, has 3D and includes Street Pass. Fans who can only afford one version will be faced with a tough decision.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the 3DS is the best portable version of the game thus far. The sheer amount of content and hours upon hours of gameplay will make it an essential purchase for any monster hunting fans out there. That being said, there is nothing here to change the minds of those who have already found that monster hunting is not for them. For monster hunting on the move, grab Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on 3DS now.