Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate - Review
Our highly customizable hero arrives in the village aboard a ship, which is soon attacked by a huge sea monster. The sequence is a tutorial on basic movements, of course, but it is also a preview of what will happen next, after a bit of quests: they will face impressive animals, with fights from the three-dimensional gameplay, which also include jumping on the back of the monsters ... as long as you're smart enough, of course. Yes, because the biggest news, in terms of gameplay, is precisely the vertical dimension of the environments and the fighting. With a cheering decision, the Capcom designers decided to shoot the boring and very slow underwater sections (which, let's face it, suck in 99.3% of the games), replacing them with the possibility of climbing on some surfaces and launching themselves from edges, all with different attachment possibilities depending on the weapon that is brandished.
In areas with gradients, for example, you can stun your prey with a well-placed trap, and then take advantage of the moment of defaillance and jump on your back, as in a violent and fun rodeo. With the biggest beasts it almost seems to have gone back to the days of Shadow of the Colossus, with sequences as exciting as useful for the rhythms of the fights. As in any Monster Hunter, all these mechanics are heavily influenced by the weapon you use, which in fact changes the gameplay almost as much as the use of a different fighter in Street Fighter.
Going beyond simple statistics such as damage and speed, each weapon has its own specific identity, with moves and combos that force you to play in a completely different way. Moreover, as expected, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is a perfect exponent of the equipment fetish, because with each quest and each monster killed, resources are accumulated to be transformed into swords and increasingly powerful armor. The customization possibilities are endless, to the point of being able to give radically different life and game experiences.
Also in this chapter we find the Calico, the cute cats that follow our hero in adventures. This time, however, our fighting cat can also be equipped with weapons and accessories, which fortunately are built in the village using resources other than those of humans. In practice, with each quest, resources are accumulated that allow you to progress on two levels, adding another level of complexity to the customization and tactics to be used. As if that weren't enough, a second Calico will unlock after a while and will interact with the main one on a mission. Every feline has specialties and distinctive features, so choosing your team well you can get the most disparate help.
As in all Monster Hunters, however, the beauty is that the player's power does not derive so much from the weapons and experience points (which do not exist, by the way), but from the real experience accumulated on the field. Those who want to be caught by the game ... indeed, let's say things as they are ... those who will get sucked into the bottomless well designed by Capcom will discover an incredible depth, with a learning margin that promises dozens, if not hundreds of hours of fun. As if that were not enough, we are dealing with the "Ultimate" version, which adds new monsters and content to the normal Monster Hunter 4, released only in Japan and not in the West.
Last but not least there is multiplayer, locally and online, with all the cooperative aspects of hunting in the most complex quests. Having played before the official release, my online experience was limited to an event with other European journalists, which is why I cannot comment on the stability and goodness of the servers. What I can say is that playing in multi is challenging, also because coordinating well is not so immediate, but also a lot of fun. Personally I will always be a fan of local experiences but, considering that in Italy Monster Hunter is certainly less widespread than Mario Kart, the possibility of playing online will open the maximum potential of the game even to those who do not have monkey friends.
Capcom is focusing heavily on this western release and hopes that hunting disease will finally spread to Europe and America, just like in Japan (where the series is officially record breaking). It is possible that the strongly Japanese structure of the gameplay discourages less persistent players, but it is also true that the designers have done a great job, smoothing out the initial obstacles and giving life to an experience that comes to life more quickly. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate however remains a particular taste, which may not appeal to everyone, but my advice is dispassionate and to try it. And if you don't like it, try it again.
I played Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on a 3DS first model, equipped with the Circle Pad Pro. The accessory is not strictly necessary, but in fact the game has been designed with an analog double in mind. The lock system on monsters makes the experience livable even without, but if you want to play seriously I advise you dispassionately to get the accessory (or, if possible, a New Nintendo 3DS). I have been playing regularly for a whole month and I know for sure that I have not seen the most advanced parts of the game yet. I don't know how to estimate the hours of gameplay, but I feel like saying: "100 hours for normal people", "one thousand thousand for monkeys".