Friday, 26 June 2015

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Gamespot Score: 9.0 (Editor's Choice)

My Score: 9.2

(+) Pros: - Intense Monster hunting backed up by wonderful game mechanics, - Massive variety of monsters to hunt and equipment to make, - Varied enviroments to do battle with monsters in, - Combat is split into 14 different styles, - In depth armor/weapon customization with an insane amount of skill variation, -Mostly smooth co-op experience online, - Ludicrous amount of content.

(-) Cons: - Camera is sometimes still an issue, though the camera has been drastically improved from previous games.

Gameplay time: 100 hours+

"Monster Hunter" has always held a special place in my heart after "Freedom 2" for the PSP. Unfortunately, with the 3rd one coming out for Wii and "MH3 Portable" never making it to the western audiences, I never had the chance to lay my hands on the 3rd generation and the underwater combat. So just like that, for at least 5 years, the "Monster Hunter" franchise took a massive sleeper in my book, and it stepped out of my gaming life...until now. "Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate" is the first MH game I've played since "Freedom Unite" all those years ago, and I must say, its good to be back. "Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate" is the most extensive MH game yet, with a whooping amount of 75 large monsters in the game, drastically surpassing almost every MH game before it. There's no doubt about it, if you've got an urge to hunt big ass monsters like never before, MH4U is the answer to all your needs. Indeed, hunting has never been this amazing. The hunt, is on. Just make sure you don't become the hunted!

MH4U stars you as an unknown hunter on a ship bound to Val Habor. On the ship, a man known as the Caravaneer greets you, and as you two talk, a huge elder dragon known as the Dahren Mohran attacks the ship. You and the Caravaneer work together to stall the Mohran long enough until the ship was close to Val Habor. There, the bell was rung, all the hunters around the area rode their ships to gang up on the Mohran to kill it. Back in the town, you are revered to as a brilliant hunter by the Caravaneer. He gives you a couple of quests to test your capabilities, then deems you worthy to be a hunter in his group. There, you meet the people of the Caravan, and together, you go around the world trying to solve the mystery of a certain scale that the Caravaneer owns. That, and you also help people kill monsters 10 times your size. Good luck.

I've always wanted to fight a giant snake.

The MH games have a really simple game flow that's also present in MH4U. You start off in a central hub with item shops, the black smith, the street cook, and many other things. You can buy items here, change your equipment, eat to get increased stats, so on and so forth. Then, you talk to the quest counter (The guildmarn in this game) to accept a quest, then depart for it. Simple enough. In MH4U though you'll be visiting a few more locations than in the previous games where you only have a single town/hub to report to. The town stage is nothing but prep, the real fun starts when you depart. The game has a variety of quests, ranging from gathering quests to extraction quests, but the main appeal of the game still remains, and its the single type of quest that take up a massive majority of the quests in the game. The hunts.

The MH series specializes in you hunting huge ass monsters, most of which are troubling the people around the world, be it the monsters attacking cargo, caravans or people directly. You'll get to hunt plenty of series mainstays like the Rathalos, Rathian, Tigrex, Zinorge and more. Hunting huge monsters in the MH games is serious business, and its good to see that the hunt is as intense as ever in MH4U. The music score kicks in as you lock eyes with your mark, and let me tell you, things just get more epic from there. These monsters are much bigger than you are, some smaller and faster, some even bigger and hit even harder. As a lone human hunter, you must use all you have at your disposal to outsmart and take the beast down: that feeling of tension and thought that tells you "If I screw up, I'm dead" just makes the hunts all the more heartpounding.

...or a giant toad shark.

In battle you roll to dodge the enemy attacks, and strike back with your various weapons. Its mostly a complex game of dodging and hitting back, with a lot more mechanics involved. You can now lock on to a specific monster to make the camera a lot more forgiving, and you can bring items to the table to help your survivability. Potions heal you from monster attacks, flash bombs stun your enemies, and you can set traps to cripple the monster. Also a new feature in MH4U is the addition of mounts, that allow you to stun the monster from an unstable, higher ground. Mounts are great, not only do they make hunts more exciting, it allows for some free hits on monster parts that you normally have NO chance trying to attack (f**k the Gravios head and tail can be so annoying to break without mounts). Like in previous games, the controls are fluid, and the game is almost never straight out unfair: if you die, its YOUR own fault.

And this is the feeling that you'll experience in almost EVERY fight in MH4U. Every monster you battle against will offer some form of challenge, and true, some may be harder than others. Ranging from the different levels of quests you'll attempt, you'll be coming across a huge variety of monsters (as mentioned earlier, there'll be 75 large monsters to hunt), and each monster is going to fight you differently. You'll be using a massive range of strategies and tricks to fight each and every boss, its going to hurt. Also, variety is an all time winner this time round, instead of having flying wyverns all around, we get brute wyverns, fanged beasts, insects and even amphibian bosses, making the feeling of discovering new monsters all the more exciting and dreadful.

As usual you'll have a whole bunch of bullshit in your item box....
it never hurts to sort them out.

Of course, what's "Monster Hunter" without grinding for equipment? As usual, monsters you defeat drop loot which you can carve off their dead bodies. You can use these to make equipment out of the monster you just killed, each and every monster has their own specific equipment based off them. The sheer amount of equipment in this game is ludicrous, spreading across 3 ranks (Low-High, G), there are an upwards of more than 100 armor sets and items. Finding one for you that works is always tough, since your choices are so wide. You do battle against your preys in a multitude of different arenas every time, ranging from the peaceful planes of the Ancestral Steps to the uneven, rocky terrain of Heaven's Mount.

You are picked and thrown into a different environment every time, and each map changes how you fight every monster. Some maps have advantageous areas where you can strike from, while others have small, confined areas that hinder your battle. Since there are so many different areas in the game, its always a thrill to think about how you're going to battle said monster in a map that you've not very familiar with. When doing combat against the monsters, you have to consider your weapon choices as well, as some weapons even go as far as to INTERACT with the environment. In MH4U, there are a grand total of 14 weapons types in the game, yes, 14, that is rather insane. For the Blademaster variants, we have the Greatsword, Sword And Shield, Long Sword, Dual Swords, Hammer, Hunting Horn, Lance, Gun Lance, Switch Axe, Insect Glaive and Charge Blade. For Gunner variants, they get the Bow, the Heavy Bowgun and Light Bowgun.

Ladies and gentlemen, the best thing to happen to MH4U.

Needless to say each and ever weapon plays differently from one another, and its so satisfying to learn different weapons, as some weapons are more well suited to fight certain types of enemies. Slow but hard hitting weapons like the Greatsword and Hammer work against many enemies, but versatile weapons with long reach like the Longsword or Lance allow you more options against more annoying, faster enemies. Sword and Shield gives you safety and versatility, Dual Swords and Switch Axes excel against monsters that like to stay stationary, letting you go crazy with combos. Gun Lance and Charge Blade allow for safe play and can do insane burst damage, while the Hunting Horn and Insect Glaives are support weapons, giving buffs or mounting monsters is always a plus. The ranged classes just do what they do best: pelt enemies from afar.

Hold on, THERE'S MORE! In addition to the weapons, armor and combat styles, MH4U further increases the game value with the skill variations. Certain weapons and armor have innate skills within them, some even have slots for you to put in decorations. Skills function in such a way that you'll need proper thinking and customization for them to actually work. You'll need a certain value for your skills to activate, meaning that you'll have to mix and match certain equipment pieces together to work, making armor/weapon selection combinations a tough, yet important choice. Different skills on different builds really lead to wildly different situations.

Get iced!

Like in MH3 on the 3DS, MH4U allows you to play online with complete strangers, allowing you all to go on hunts together. For the most part, playing online is a smooth, satisfying experience that allows you to tackle the complete monstrosities that are the gathering hall/Elder hall monsters, which are TOUGH as nails to beat. Emotes and quick captions allow for some brief communication, but the lack of an in-game chat system fails to bring the co-op experience to the next level. Also, let's be serious, without co-op in MH, you won't get far. The Gathering Hall and Elder Hall monsters will most definitely tear you to f**king shreds if you ever decide to fight them alone...especially those G rank douche bags that deal more than half of your HP per hit.

Needless to say like most, if not all MH games, the amount of content in MH4U is absolutely ridiculous. Take in the massive amount of quests you can do in single player, then you add in multiplayer quests as well, which take HELLA long to do as you climb your HR ranking. Then you've got so much more! Guild quests which you can receive/send to others via Streetpass, Arena quests where you just duke it out with a select monster and try to get the best time. Event quests that you can download that get released periodically (White Fatalis...f**k my life), and even single player expeditions that pit you against pre-set monsters that you won't get to fight regularly. Even 170 hours in, I'm not even done with this game (that's ridiculous).

Meet Steve, he doesn't like people in his face...why are
you in his face?
"Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate" is a massive game that's fun as hell to play, alone or with friends, and it lasts a long, LONG time as well, but it has a flaw. I mean, the MH camera isn't the best thing in the world, let's face it, they've been struggling with the damn thing for years and while its gotten better, its not completely fixed in this game. In certain cramped spots, the camera in MH4U is still quite bad, and while the lock on DOES help, sometimes the camera angles get so f**ked up its hard to respond to the monster's advances. Manual camera fiddling still works the best, but when you're trying to handle so many things at once, it can get slightly frustrating.

MH4U is definitely the biggest game in the MH franchise at the moment. Capcom did really well with this game and it shows when they start to announce MULTIPLE "Monster Hunter" games MONTHS after MH4U's release. I'm happy for the franchise and I think its good to be back, experiencing MH again after all these years made me relive the joy of the hunt. If you want a hunting game where you take on monsters many times your size and have the odds constantly stacked against you, there's no game out there like MH4U right now.