SchmameReviews: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
I’ve played every Monster Hunter game that exists, and have even go so far as to enlist a former girlfriend’s Korean social security equivalent to sign up for an Asian exclusive Monster Hunter MMO. (With her permission, of course.) And until Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for the WiiU/3DS the series didn’t make a damn bit of sense to me, no matter how much I wanted it to. And that is the highest praise I can give to this latest version of Monster Hunter: it finally makes sense.
For those not in the know, Monster Hunter is a series of games from Capcom about, as the name implies, hunting monsters. Despite its phenomenal successes in Japan, Monster Hunter has never had quite the same appeal in the rest of the world and a big part of that is that Monster Hunter is designed from the ground up to be played multiplayer. Of course, Americans are no strangers to online multiplayer, just go look at how many people are playing League of Legends and DoTA2. But overtime we’ve fallen out of the practice of gaming together. This is largely because we don’t spend as much time together as friends and families as we used to, due to increasing demands on our time from jobs and the like, and we also don’t commute on public transit nearly as often as the Japanese do. It was not an uncommon sight to see to strangers playing Monster Hunter together on a Tokyo subway. And that’s the kind of multiplayer that Monster Hunter thrives on, despite the existence of its online functionality.
And it’s when I got my friends together in the same room to play, that Monster Hunter finally made sense.
The basic path of Monster Hunter goes like this: harvest resources from the world so you can make bombs, traps, healing and restoration items, ammo, and food for yourself. Then, when you think you’re ready, go hunt a big ass monster. Kill it. Harvest its materials and make new weapons and armors from its corpse. Then harvest more resources so you can go out and fight a bigger monster, to make better armor and weapons, so you can fight an even bigger monster. Rinse. Repeat. There’s a flimsy premise of a story but you can safely ignore it.
Monster Hunter is about killing monsters.
But more than that it’s also about being prepared. And when I played Monster Hunter alone my preparation and success or failure was on me alone. It was my wasted time, and no one else’s. But when I played with others I found myself working to get better gear before we met for that week’s hunts, because I’ll be damned if I’m the one who causes us to fail at our mission. I would spend hours upon hours working on the fastest way to play songs with my Hunting Horn so I could get our party the buffs it needed as fast as possible. The addition of other human beings made Monster Hunter more than just a loot frenzy, it made it into a game where our shared survival was something I wanted to happen, and that meant I had to do everything in my power to make it happen.
Of course, being on the WiiU the series has looked better than it ever has before. The music is appropriately, if generically, epic during the fights with bosses. The controls are precise in the way that Dark Souls’ controls are precise, they reward you for knowing what you’re doing and punish you for swinging around aimlessly like a child with a plastic sword. Even the addition of the ability to transfer data between 3DS and WiiU is a wonderful new feature. If you have a WiiU the WiiU version is the clearly superior version of the game, but the 3DS version is very solid as well. (Though you’d be far better served having a 3DS XL when playing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate.)
And the game isn’t without its flaws. There is practically no in game help or tutorial of any kind (despite its existence in older games) and if you want to figure out what you’re doing you’ll need the internet or an experienced friend. At times the differences between the two UIs in the WiiU and 3DS versions is distracting, but this is only relevant to those who are playing on both versions. There’s also the omnipresent issue of Monster Hunter games where the camera is apparently operated by a drunk and stoned AI, but it’s easily compensated for once you get used to it. And sometimes the game feels arbitrarily difficult, which is a huge turn off and is an easy way to brick-wall with this game.
If you have friends with a 3DS or a WiiU there is not a better game in existence to play together with them, in the same room, spread across a sofa and living room floor, than Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. It is a test of teamwork and camaraderie, but also a shining example of how much fun it is to play games with other people in the room.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is available right now for 3DS and WiiU.