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Monster Hunter Ultimate 3 – Years of Other Raid Games Later…

monsterhunter3ultimate

Sup y’all, Xeawn here. I’m going to talk to you today about Monster Hunter Ultimate 3 or 3 Ultimate or whatever we’re calling it these days. First, a little background information.

I…LOVE raid style games. Raid is probably my number one favorite genre, and equally is probably the number one most frustrating thing about living in America, namely Anchorage. See, the thing about raid style games, is that they’re designed to be played on a team, with a party, with your friends. They are generally stacked heavily against you, so that if you have absolutely nothing better to do you can get a bunch of cool gear and beat the game alone, but the true way that you’re supposed to make progress is with a team of up to three of your buddies. There are some raid style games that you can get by with just the two of you, and a small number that you can do on your own, but by and large you’re supposed to play on a team.

Yeah…no one in Anchorage plays Raid style games. Well, no one that I wouldn’t look creepy hanging out with. I’m not exactly gonna hit up the geeky side of local high schools trying to find someone to help me kill a Plesioth.

I got into Monster Hunter way back on the PS2 when I bought it at a pawn shop cuz it had dragons and a dude with a big sword on the cover. I fell in love with it, but didn’t have internet at the time so I didn’t get to experience the joy of co-op until years later. One fleeting battle online on my crappy dial up had me hooked all over again, and when Monster Hunter started getting remixed for the PSP I had a couple of people that I was friends with at the time that were hardcore into it too. We would stay up for hours forming hunting parties, I was the dual sword guy, one of them rocked a great sword, another a bow and a third the sword and shield.

"CRAWLING IN MY SKIIIIIN! THESE WOUNDS THEY WILL NOT HEAL!!!!"

“CRAWLING IN MY SKIIIIIN! THESE WOUNDS THEY WILL NOT HEAL!!!!”

Well, drama happened and these days I’m the only person I know that plays raid games anymore. As a result, I stopped playing Monster Hunter years ago. I dabbled briefly with Monster Hunter Tri, but Capcom came up with garbage excuses saying they wouldn’t bring the games on PSP to America because of pirates (even though Japan and China had the highest percentages of pirated copies…) and due to their xenophobia and me working a job that had me gone all the time, I passed on the Wii version.

I tried getting into Lord of Arcana, because I always felt that the slow and clunky combat of Monster Hunter while realistic, would’ve been so much cooler as a Wu Xia, a sword epic. I wanted to be like my favorite anime heroes and fly through the air with giant swords swinging them like they were made of paper. I think I might’ve been pretty into Cloud Strife at the time. Don’t look at me like that, you used to think he was cool when you were all gloomy and angsty in junior high too!

Lord of Arcana was awesome because it gave me that high speed “I can swing this five hundred ton sword like nothing” combat…but it was bloody impossible to play alone. Elitists on forums will tell you that you’re garbage at the game, but don’t listen to them. As someone who raids with the best of them, Arcana hated anyone that didn’t have friends into the genre. Similarly, I tried Valhalla Knights, but as you can read in my other article…yeah…that game had some problems…

And so it was that I retired from Monster Hunter and stuck to Phantasy Star Portable and Zero, because while the experience is nowhere near as fun without friends, they’re games that you can plow through on your own just the same. Plus, Portable and Zero were online so I did get to meet some cool people from all over the world and get something of that feeling.

It might be a little bit difficult to tell this apart from Monster Hunter from screen shot alone, but, this is the infinitely better one :D

It might be a little bit difficult to tell this apart from Monster Hunter from screen shot alone, but, this is the infinitely better one 😀

Gods Eater Burst came out with the understanding that if you don’t live in Japan, you probably aren’t going to get anyone to try your favorite game out, and so it piggybacked on Phantasy Star Portable’s idea (or did Universe do it first?) and gave you mercenaries that would fight with you to compensate for that. Subsequently, Gods Eater Burst is my favorite Raid game because of that, the stylish high speed combat, and the deep and moving story. Also for D3’s American division being able to tell the story without all the demonology that was in the Japanese version.

Lords of Apocalypse balanced itself similarly by giving you mercenary partners and letting you level up quickly, while counteracting that with punishing late game levels and extremely punishing infinite levels, and I hope it comes to America so more people can enjoy it.

So now we’ve got a new Monster Hunter. I was somewhere between “That’s interesting” and “Meh” and not because I’m a Sony fan. No, it really is just because I’ve grown to not care about the series. I acknowledge that in America, Monster Hunter is for the young, and so long as I’m in Anchorage I’ll be hunting solo. But, I’m a game reviewer, and so let’s review!

The demo is stupid. I’m sorry, I just had to get that out there. The demo is not made for anyone that does not play Monster Hunter forever, and years of other raiding games later, the gameplay feels even more dated than it would’ve before. Like most Japanese franchises, the series hasn’t changed much despite have like, five games come before it. Maybe more than five, and certainly more than five if you count the remakes. The formula is still the same, but the demo assumes that you’ve been faithful to a franchise that has abandoned you in your country of origin for three years, or four if you’ve mostly been playing on PSP.

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“You’re just whining because you haven’t played in a while!”

Nope. The game doesn’t teach you anything. There’s no tutorial, there isn’t even a screen that you can go to that will at least show you the buttons! You press start, and it takes you to mission select. You pick between an “easy” fight with a snow mole bear thing, or a “hard” fight with a sea serpent, Plesioth. After that, out of nowhere there’s twelve job classes to pick from with about a half a paragraph on each. What are their moves? Strengths and weaknesses? Are they even a combat class or a support one? Oh, here’s a big one; can you even block with this job class? Cuz, there’s only like two that can, and they never tell you that. Which doesn’t matter, because they don’t tell you what any of the buttons do either.

They also don’t tell you that once you start the mission there’s mission specific items in a blue box that you need to make your life easier, such as a drink to keep your stamina up in the cold winter environment. They also don’t tell you that there’s a special “lock on” (it’s not lock on, it just centers the camera on the target monster) command that is relegated to the touch screen that will make your life way easier. They also don’t tell you that you need to use whetstones to sharpen your weapons, that there’s special weapon specific commands on the touch screen, than the right trigger does something different for every weapon that also changes your move set, and that there’s a special command you can use to do a really powerful attack mid combo with your weapon.

What does the demo tell you? That you can’t use the circle pad pro. They don’t mention that they only mean with the demo, just that you can’t do it.

The demo also has no multiplayer, no cross play, and no character customization. With all of these barriers on the outset, had I not spent hours in junior high playing this game I would say “Monster Hunter sucks” and go back to Call of Duty if I were the typical American gamer.

This isn't in the demo, it's just really pretty looking.

This isn’t in the demo, it’s just really pretty looking.

Spoiler Alert: Capcom will use these horse poop barriers they’ve created later on to say “Americans don’t like Monster Hunter and its selling really crappy so no more Monster Hunter in America!” They’ll also justify this as an excuse not to promote the game. This is what Capcom does; they create environments to have an excuse to say Americans don’t like their games, and then bring games over when they need more money. Look up their track record some time. The names Last Ranker and Rezel Cross come to mind among other titles…

So anywho, if you decide to put up with how much Capcom designed a demo to make you hate the game, you’ll be met with some sorta impressive graphics on the 3DS. By and large, how pretty it could’ve been was lost to me. The whole thing, like most 3DS games I play, looked extremely washed out and kinda blurry. I’m not saying this as a fan boy, and it is a fact that the Vita’s five inch AMOLED screen has spoiled me, but I don’t recall my DSi ever looking this blurry and washed out, yet every 3DS games does, or else looks really “soft”, so that made it difficult to appreciate the almost near constant 60 frames per second gameplay. I haven’t tried the demo on my Wii U yet, but as the games that I have on it look better than my PS3 and my 360, I imagine the demo will look stunning there. I’ll update on that later.

The controls worked fine-ish on the 3DS; they were the same as playing on the PSP, though I feel like the face buttons were a little too squishy for what I want in an action game. All the same, they were tight and extremely responsive, so that’s just personal preference and I can’t really mark the game down for that.

The music was great, nothing you’ll be humming later, but very fitting. The sounds were great too. Something Capcom got right, in addition to the sorta lock on, was adding bodyguard Felynes to the fray to soften the challenge of playing alone. By and large the game is more forgiving than other Monster Hunters I’ve played, so that’s a plus. Even so, I spent 3/4 of my mission just running back and forth, back and forth chasing the stupid monster waiting for it to stop running like a punk so I could kill it. I was fighting the bear thing, by the by.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why Xeawn doesn't trust large bodies of water...

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why Xeawn doesn’t trust large bodies of water…

Playing, in my opinion far superior, raid style games have spoiled me I must admit. Not being able to run with my Switch Ax (a giant ax that becomes a giant sword) drawn, not being able to guard with it despite it being like three times my size, the weird obsession my hero had with dancing after drinking a health potion (which almost always got me hit mid healing) and more reminded me why I never went back to the game after I discovered Gods Eater Burst and Lord of Apocalypse. To put it into perspective, even when the monster was limping and dragging itself away to another screen, it still limped faster than I could walk with my sword drawn, and if I swung it next to it I could get one hit in before it left to a new environment.

Playing Monster Hunter after playing Ragnarok Odyssey, Gods Eater Burst and Lord of Apocalypse felt more like work than gaming. Still, there was a glimmer in there that got me excited.

I could see how if I were on a well balanced team (not led by the stupid AI that is content to run back and forth and get hit while making atrocious cat puns) the fight would’ve gone much quicker. Sword and shield could’ve been goin’ at it, dual blades could run interference, a gunner could attract attention and keep it from running, and me and my ax sword thingy would’ve put the beast down. Thankfully, this is the first Monster Hunter since the PS2 era that has online in America.

Yeah, those two (three in Japan) PSP games? They had online multiplayer in Japan; the one place that didn’t need it. They removed it for America for reasons that I can’t possibly comprehend.

"Haters gonna hate!"

“Haters gonna hate!”

The 3DS version I’ve been told is ad-hoc only, but the Wii U, which has cross play and cross save, is online. Since Rayman made me buy a Wii U (and then Ubisoft burned me), I’m not too worried about that. Also, I’m a sucker for anything that features cross save. Anything. I mean, I bought the new Sly Cooper, and I barely even like that franchise!

So, this review comes across as very negative, but I’d be extremely remiss if I didn’t point out how flawed the demo was designed. Overall, did I like the game? That’s hard to say. From a pure gameplay perspective, especially when I remember the hours upon hours upon hours of mining for that one freaking ore so you could get that one freaking sword that would become worthless five missions later, and the fact that you can’t share forging items with your friends (unless they change that in this one), I’m only passively excited. I’ll buy the game, because that’s what I do when a niche franchise finally comes to America that isn’t creepy (*cough cough* Hyper Dimension Neptunia and Ar Tonelico *cough cough*), but I probably won’t play it much.

What it all boils down to is that I’ve been playing Lord of Apocalypse non stop for like, two weeks now, and going from that high speed stylish raid game that actually has level ups, a great forging system, and field maps to explore a la Phantasy Star Online before fighting the boss, to a slower and clunkier game that has kept gameplay mechanics that I don’t understand having a place (such as no blocking unless you actually have a weapon with a shield), it’s just a hard sell. Also, mega run on sentence.

Let me put it another way; if you have a Vita and have options, maybe wait for this to go on sale or spend a lot of time with the demo first. If you have a 3DS and no choice, by all means this is an amazing game and go for it.

OH! REAL QUICK! Sorry guys, I know this is a long article. Also sorry gals. Gals and guys, cuz we’re all up on the equilateral train here, but there’s one more thing as a Christian gamer that I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out. For some bizarre reason, dual blade style no longer refers to your meter and power modes as “rage” and “berserker”. Capcom has been hardcore on this demon kick for a while now, and so now it’s “demon meter” and “arch demon mode”. Culturally I get that for them that’s more hardcore anger wrath kill crazy than “berserker”, and I also get that American localization teams think game sell better if you put the word “demon” into the mix, but as a Christian I’ve got issue with that. I’m praying about it; some games I can overlook some things, and it would be nice if I could just play the other job classes and ignore it, but then there’s things like Orphen: Scion of Sorcery that once I found out the actual Japanese names of his attacks, referred to as spells there and with instances such as Scarlet being The Sword of Satan in Japan, that I just can’t look past.

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So, there ya go, Monster Hunter 3 in a nut shell. Now I’m gonna go force myself to play this demo again on the Wii U so I can tell you if its pretty or not. Peace!

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