After recently watching numerous YouTube videos about Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, my interest was thoroughly piqued. Third-person fantasy? Check. Cool enemies? Check. Extensive crafting system? Check. That’s pretty much all you need to get my attention.
Well, yesterday I saw a used Wii U copy at GameStop for less than $10, and decided it must be fate.
Today I fired it up and played through the starting tutorial area as well as one longer hunter quest. While it is fun, it is not the earth-shattering mega-game I was hoping it might be…
- Character Customization—In addition to customizing your character’s looks and voice, you are immediately given a full array of weapons at the beginning of the game which allow you to test out the different hunting playstyles and choose the method that works best for you. All these weapons are equally balanced, so it just boils down to deciding whether you want to be light melee, heavy melee, ranged, or Cudgel Dinosaurs With A Giant Metal Bagpipe.
- Graphics—The landscapes are beautiful, and the enemy and character designs are interesting. Which is good because you are going to be seeing the same landscape a lot. A lot.
- Crafting—Want to add or enhance skills? Boost your attack and defense?? Look like a god (or a teddy bear)??? Craft some sweet weapons and armor. Almost everything you find, harvest, or carve up can be crafted into new things to find more, harvest more, and carve up more.
- Animals—There are cat people. There is also a farm pig you can pick up, carry around, and snuggle. My pig is named Chubs.
- No carrying capacity—To be a good hunter, you need hunting and survival supplies like traps, bombs, paintballs, whetstones, food, potions, and a map. You also need tools like picks, nets, and harpoons to gather precious resources. Trouble is, once you have all that, there is absolutely no room leftover to stash the things you are actually supposed to collect, especially when each resource node can drop multiple varieties that all need their own item slot in your pack. Additionally, I have no idea which resources are worth saving at this point, so I am just hoping the things I’ve already discarded aren’t too important.
- Despawn rates—Imagine you have just killed a monster and want to harvest its loot. Now imagine before you can do that, a bunch more monsters jump on you, so you need to switch gears and also take them out. Then, before you can harvest anything, you need to manually put your weapon away to free your character’s hands up for the butchering process.
In that span of time – in that short, short span of time – the bodies of the first few enemies have already disappeared, leaving you with Nothing. This is the unfortunate reality in many areas of the game, and it makes collecting your spoils (a process that should be joyous) tedious and nerve-wracking.
- Loooooooooong missions—With the GamePad’s abominably short battery life, it can be a gamble to go into a mission knowing it will take almost an hour to complete with no chance to save during that time. I was 3/4 of the way through one of these timed quests when the GamePad started flashing its death throes. Unfortunately, our charger is currently setup on a side table to the far left of the sofa, with the cord wrapped behind furniture, so I finished the mission half-leaning off the couch, with my neck craned behind me to see the TV. Not ideal.
Now every time I want to play this game, I have to excavate the cord and move it to the other side of the room, just so I can have the GamePad directly plugged in. Needing to be tethered to the closest electrical outlet kind of defeats the purpose of using handheld/cordless systems like the Wii U and 3DS.
- The $*^%*# camera—I’m not sure why there is no option to have the camera permanently centered behind you. Instead, you must keep hitting the L button to fix it after every few steps. You know, the same L button that is mapped to instantly use your most powerful equipped item, and which there is no way to remap. I want to fight monsters, not the controls. Moving around should not be a bigger battle than my prey.
(Also, don’t even get me started on swimming, where you need to simultaneously use the L stick, the L button, *and* the control pad every time you want to change direction… in a 3D space… with your prey circling around you…)
It’s not fair to call this an accurate review, since I have only just started playing, but so far it seems like a game that would have been mind-blowing on a PC was unceremoniously shoved onto a system without the right controls to do it justice.