For almost a full year, people had been wondering: when was Capcom bringing over their latest Monster Hunter game to the US? Thankfully, Capcom unveiled that by March 2013, we will be playing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on both 3DS and, surprisingly, Wii U. Capcom showed off both versions of the game in New York Comic Con, and I got to play a mission from the 3DS version. Let me put it this way: screw the great sword.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is a remixed version of the Wii release Monster Hunter Tri. Originally released for 3DS in Japan as Monster Hunter 3G, 3 Ultimate adds many more monsters and multiplayer modes unseen on the Wii original. The new Wii U edition allows players on the Wii U version to play each other online or play with up to three 3DS players in ad hoc multiplayer. The Wii U version has been given a graphical boost, and the GamePad screen displays what the bottom screen displays on the 3DS, a map control and item selection menu. However, I only got to play the 3DS game, so my impressions deviate there.
The goal of every Monster Hunter mission is to chase down and vanquish a gigantic monster, ranging from dragon-like beings to massive, hulking electric sea monsters. It is imperative to select the right weapon, armor, and items for the job before going on the hunt, or else the fight will end quickly and in favor of the beast. Thankfully, a camp provides you with your item stash to help stock up before making your next attempt into the wilderness. Being defeated by the monster does not end your mission, so you will have the ability to stock back up and make strategy changes over time until you can take the monster down; however, you do have a time limit to eventually defeat the monster or fail the mission.
Each environment is split up into multiple rooms, sometimes filled with smaller monsters which can attack you as well, but the first goal of each mission is to find the monster in the area itself. Once a monster is found, the real meat of the game begins, and for me, it was when the difficulty reared its head. The key to fighting a monster is learning its attacks, because if you just run in head-first, you are going to get beaten down quickly. In my scenario, I fought a Lagombi, a large arctic saber-toothed wyvern, and I had chosen the great sword. The great sword, by the way, is a hard-hitting two-handed sword, but its trade-off is in speed. Other weapons, such as the sword and shield, attack faster but with less damage, and weapons such as the bowguns require more distance and preparation with special ammo. When multiple players are working together, using the right weapons together can result in a straightaway into victory, but when playing alone, you may need to work a bit harder to kill the monsters ahead.
In my experience, fighting the Lagombi was no easy task. The time it took to actually swing the great sword was so long that the Lagombi would most likely leap out of my way and subsequently dash back into my side. After watching its movements for a while, it became more obvious how to attack it without sustaining damage every time, and I also considered using a number of offensive items, including explosive barrels, to aid me in the confrontation. The battle was not entirely solitary, too, thanks to two helpers who helped cast spells on me and bother the Lagombi from time to time. Unfortunately, even with these elements on my side, the saber-toothed beast took me down with ease. I could have continued, but with a growing line of people behind me and a basic idea of the game’s single-player experience, I ended my play session there.
Having played the Monster Hunter Tri demo years ago, I can say that 3 Ultimate is no different, although the 3D display is not a bad addition to the experience. Control-wise, it will confound newcomers, but with the right time invested and perhaps assistance from veterans, they (as well as yours truly) will be able to vanquish monsters with ease. Or, at the very least, we might actually be able to defeat a monster.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate releases this March, and I am not sure I’ll make it out alive.
With the announcement that Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was coming to the US for the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Wii U in March 2013, people were excited to hear both would be playable at New York Comic Con. Sadly, long waiting lines and long demos made it difficult to play the Wii U version. However, after entering a small room away from the main floor of the show, I got my first hands-on with the 3DS version.
The demo had me hunting an amphibious lizard that was lurking in a body of water. On land, I used the circle pad to move the hunter around and held another button to run. To use my weapon, in this case the fast-paced Dual Swords, I had to press one button to arm my character and then press the buttons again to attack. Depending on your weapon of choice, you would have to disarm your character in order to run again. You also have to disarm in order to use items, and using items takes time. One challenge I had was learning how to effectively use items without getting hit, especially with the long animations. However, my biggest frustration was with the game’s camera. In order to look around, I had to use the 3DS ‘s d-pad or a d-pad on the bottom touch screen, both of which are hard to use in the heat of battle. Knowing this game uses the Circle Pad Pro, this issue is more than likely resolved with the added circle pad. Sadly, that was not available at the show so I had trouble keeping the action in view.
After avoiding a number of smaller monsters on land, I finally found the body of water with the monster in it. Once I entered the water, the monster became well aware of my presence and swam towards me with a spinning bash attack. Luckily, I managed to swim out of its way, which was impressive since the game’s controls changed considerably once I hit the water. While the circle pad still moved my hunter around, I had to “aim” my hunter through the water using the difficult camera. The other major change was that as long as my weapon was out, I could hardly move around at all. This meant I had to disarm my character in order to catch up with the large lizard, often time resulting in it swimming into me or past me. Whereas on land I only had to worry about what was behind me, underwater I had to worry about being attacked from above and below, which combined with the poor camera controls to make for a tough battle. Once the monster had enough of me, it quickly swam towards a beach area, where it moved on land to use electric attacks. Thankfully, my small AI partners were able to distract it so I could get on land and deal some damage.
However, after about seven minutes of this, I had enough. Clearly the monsters are designed for group battles so single player battles feel long and draw out. Without any sign of progress via a health bar or from the monster itself, I couldn’t tell if I even dented its health or I almost killed it. This game was definitely designed with online multiplayer as its main focus, although this version will not have online on its own, which I feel hurts the experience.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is one of the better-looking 3DS titles, pushing graphics that rival the original Wii version. The characters, monsters, and environments have vivid textures and are both colorful and detailed. Despite all the action on screen, I did not see any slow down during my playtime and I found the 3D effect both pleasing and effective in judging distance in the various monster encounters I had. The audio stays true to the series with intense music playing during battle and calming music playing went not. Monsters roar and hiss as the hunters holler and yell battle cries much like other entries in the series. Without a doubt, this sounds like a Monster Hunter game through and through.
Although I did not defeat the monster, my hands-on showed that Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Nintendo 3DS plays and feels like a true Monster Hunter. Lush visuals, challenging monsters, and a variety of gear to hunt were are all there in the game. However, the frustrating camera mechanic and lack of online multiplayer without the Wii U version makes this a hard pick over the Wii U edition, which also happens to be HD. While the Circle Pad Pro might solve the camera issue, the lack of on-the-go online feels like a missed opportunity. I might have liked what I saw on the 3DS, but I will have to see how it is when compared to the Wii U version in March.