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Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Review

Monster Hunter is the most self-explanatory game title ever conceived. You are a monster hunter, you hunt monsters, that’s the game; you go after massive beasts and do your best not to die. For everything that comes with the hunt – prep, sharpening weapons, crafting stronger armour, brewing herbs – at the centre of everything, there’s a monster that needs hunting. Why does it need hunting? Who cares? You’re hunting a monster!

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is a game about – shockingly – hunting monsters. It’s a simple hook, and yet the practice of makes it like no other game around. Only in Monster Hunter can you really hunt monsters to your heart’s content, and that not only makes it superb, but also a must-have for fans of the series.

This time round, players don’t have to go it alone in single-player. This time, players can opt to have a Palico (cat thing) by their side.

Yes, a cat follows players about, helping out in combat, and searching for items. And it sometimes heals you when you don’t need it to. I’m still trying to understand how this changes the dynamic of hunting so much, but it does. Instead of being a one-person army, alone in the wilderness with empty thoughts, you’re now part of a team. 

Even though it’s a bloody cat, the player’s Palico is a life-saver. There’s been so many times when I got knocked on my ass or stunned. As I lay on the ground, watching as the monster prepares to charge at me like a bull with the sole intent of draining what little health I have left, I prepare for what’s about to happen, helpless to do anything but ready a quick swear. Then, from out of nowhere, my Palico jumps in the way, or flanks the beast, allowing me the chance to roll out of harm’s way and heal up.

Palicos won’t win a battle, but they might not lose a battle, too.

So, I need to write a bit about the story, which may-or-may-not be code for the worst bit of Monster Hunter 4. There is a story, but here’s the problem: Do you want to read seemingly endless lines of text when you could be, oh I don’t know, hunting monsters? My guess is that a lot of players don’t care about the story. No one needs an elaborate, or more realistically, haphazard story to justify killing stuff.

Picture this: you’ve just won a hard-fought battle against over-whelming odds. Then, the game decides to make you talk to everyone in the camp, and some new people you don’t really care about. Tell me this, what do you do when you’ve beaten a monster? Do you buy more supplies? Upgrade armour? Forge a new weapon? Sleep? See what you can combine from your spoils? At any point, does anyone finish a quest and want to talk to some randoms about what’s going on?

The thing is, the problem with the story is it’s forced upon the player when the player wants to do something else. Is it a deal-breaker? Not really. The series is known for prattling on a bit too much. It’s a little bit annoying, sure, but every other aspect of Monster Hunter 4 is such an improvement, that when you reach the hundred-hour mark, the story will seem like a distant, and forgotten, memory.

Take terrain for instance. In Monster Hunter 4, terrain is a real game-changer. Jumping off a hill and twatting a monster now results in a mini-game whereby the player can hack mercilessly as the creature furiously attempts to shake them off.

Terrain also makes for a more tactical playstyle. Ranged players can find a good vantage point, and should they find themselves in trouble, may have the option to climb a nearby makeshift ladder in the hopes of evading. Or, you know, you could just enjoy jumping off platforms and raining down a satisfying heavy blow onto unsuspecting monsters.

On the weapon front, new additions include the Insect Glaive and the Charge Blade. The Insect Glaive handles like a staff mostly, only with the ability to shoot insects on foes, which results in stat-changers. As for the Charge Blade, it’s a two-in-one. It’s similar to the Switch-axe in some respects. The player has a big sword and shield, but combine both and you’ve got a big axe.

Both additions are exactly what you’d expect from the series; weapons with a twist that only Monster Hunter can pull off. The beauty of combat is that players don’t need to stick with one weapon until end-game – you can switch at any time because there’s no levelling system confining you to a set choice – meaning if you don’t like the new weapons, great news, you can switch. And on the flipside, if you’ve been sticking to basic weapons and want to up the ante, also great news, you can switch at any time providing you’ve got the materials and money needed.

Missions yield money, caravan points, and killing enemies results in materials. Most missions follow the same pattern – kill X, kill X many of X, collect X, and so on. Admittedly, when I lay it out like that it sounds well dull, doesn’t it? It’s not, though, don’t worry. When you play Monster Hunter, you know it’s going to be a grind. You know it’ll be a few hours in before you feel strong enough to tackle the bigger foes. That’s okay, though. It’s cool. Grinding, and a high entry curve, is expected when you’re hunting a massive creature that could feasibly squish you in one step.
Missions may be repetitive, but the scaling difficulty means even if you’re playing another kill X quest, it doesn’t matter, because that mission will playout differently to the last one, and, probably the next one.

There are, however, times Monster Hunter 4 drops the ball – or “egg” if we’re being specific. Deliver the Egg missions are as tedious and frustrating as you’d imagine. The goal is to carry a monster’s egg from nest to base, across different areas, some of which are blocked off in a handy OMG-I’m-Going-To-Kill-Someone way. 

Here’s what will happen to you at some point. You’ll get the egg, oh, and you can’t attack or move properly while carrying it, and you’ll nearly make back to base, all the while avoiding predators, then something will appear to make you drop it. Watching as your egg – which you’ve just carried for five sodding minutes – cracks into pieces on the floor, near to the dropoff point, is the least satisfying thing possible. Not only will it make you rage, but you’ll also want to quit when you realise to finish the mission you need to carry out this laborious process yet again…

Does that sound fun to anyone? Carrying an egg? Is carrying an egg from one place to another something someone who hunts monsters does? Does a monster hunter collect eggs for fun?

And we’re back to the thick of it now. Monster Hunter 4 is a game about hunting monsters. That may sound so boring to some, but for fans of the series, it’s a winning formula that works. Better yet, where the formula doesn’t add up, Monster Hunter 4 makes a subtraction through new additions. The new camera angle is lovely if you’re on the New 3DS. But if you’re on the old one? Don’t worry, larger enemies now have a pseudo lock on function. Capcom won’t ever let you properly lock on to monsters because part of the science is the difficulty, but now you can at least turn your head to see what the creature is doing (spoiler: trying to kill you).

Hunting monsters – the planning, the trek to a lair, the combining of potions so you stand a chance – has never been as enjoyable as it is now. It’s a simple premise, and that’s what makes it so good. Sometimes, when it comes to video games, you want to just follow what the instructions say. And when the instructions tell you to hunt monsters, that’s some sound advice to anyone looking for an escape for a few hours at a time.

Words by Wesley Copeland.
Twitter: @Wesley_Copeland

(Version Tested: 3DS)


+ Amazing, intricate gameplay.
+ Risk versus reward results in both learning and satisfaction.
+ Grinding done right.
+ Free Luigi Palico outfit.


- The story is not only dull, but often gets in the way.
- Camera controls are vastly improved, but still need some work.
- Free Mario Palico outfit.

Edited On 17 Feb, 2015

( 2 )
Zombieflamingo's avatar
Zombieflamingo 2 years ago
I didn't know about the free outfits, I assume they just get downloaded from the DLC section of the game. I agree with what you said though I do miss the farm from Monster Hunter 3 though I have only just got the third tier of quests so hopefully I will get that later.
Zombieflamingo's avatar
Zombieflamingo 2 years ago
Also the expeditions are a nice new feature that you didn't really mention.

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