When it came out nearly three years ago for the original Wii (yes, it's been that long), Monster Hunter 3 Tri developed a huge fan base – and why not? The potential of being able to hunt beasts both big and small either on your own or with friends online, all while customizing your weapons and armor, made for entertainment that would last several hours at a time. Now, as we patiently await details on the forthcoming Monster Hunter 4, Capcom is delivering a double dose of enhanced Monster Hunter action for the Wii U and 3DS, with both versions due next week.
But Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is by no means a rushed port. Whether you're playing it on the go or through home play on the Wii U, you'll find the same sense of engaging action throughout, with hours worth of quests to complete (ranging from easy to difficult) and the ability to go online with friends – a strategy that gives you a far better chance of surviving encounters with the "big boys".
The game is fairly easy enough to get into, giving you a choice of weapons and armor. As you progress over the course of your journey, you'll be able to customize from hundreds of various types, making the experience feel even more like your own. And even though heavier weaponry forces you to strike less quickly than you would with smaller ones, you're guaranteed better success bringing down the beasts you're pursuing
A couple of gameplay additions will help players settle into the Wii U version of the game. First off, the GamePad plays a huge part, as you can select items a lot easier than moving through a sub-menu. Though the ability to play off-TV hasn't been added just yet (Capcom will be adding that option through an update sometime before summer), the option to see the changes you've applied right away will be all the more satisfactory – especially when you live to fight another day.
Then there's the ability to lock on, which a lot of dedicated players have been asking for. Nothing's more irritating than unleashing empty strikes when you're trying to face an enemy to your left or right. With this activated, you'll be able to get better precision on hitting them, instead of just whiffing at air. In some battles, this will make a huge impact – and leave you less likely to be open for a counter-strike. (Though, to be honest, you'll still want to keep your guard up, as some of these monsters mean serious business.)
The huge draw for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is being able to fight alongside others in a hunting party. Through the Nintendo Network, you can have up to three players (including yourself) take part in various quests, simply by choosing friends that are online at the time. Sadly, the 3DS version doesn't come with online play, but you can connect with both fellow portable and Wii U owners through local play. We've seen bits and pieces of this in action and the experience is nearly flawless, even with the nuances between the 3D portable version and the HD Wii U version.
Over the course of Ultimate, you'll be introduced to weapons that can really change how you fight. You'll start off with basics like a sword and shield and dual sword, but eventually become introduced to larger, more effective weaponry, including the massive Hunting Horn, the mighty Switch Axe and the powerful Heavy Bowgun, which does wonders from a distance. You'll want to experiment often, since certain weapons have better effects in areas, such as underwater. No matter what you're packing, however, you'll have to make sure you have the moves to back it up, or it'll be meaningless.
Amor can also mark better success in Monster Hunter, as you'll want to find the best type for you and your weapon. There are three ranks that you can go through with each type – Low, High and G. Obviously, G is the ultimate when it comes to being fully protected, but you'll have to work to get there. Fortunately, the varying quests, ranging from cake walk to "man, this thing is gonna kill us" on difficulty, make it easy to grind and level up, and eventually become a soldier to be feared in the monster hunting world.
It also helps to find the right balance of party. Some pro players are likely to jump into Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate the minute it releases, but it never hurts to have some rookies along for the ride as well, as you can level up together and eventually put other hunting parties to shame. The team that grows together, knows together. But the choice is yours, obviously.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate should be a satisfactory fill-in for fans of the series while we wait for part four to roll around. Be sure to check it out when it releases on March 19th for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.