|Release: February 13, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Blood, Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence|
If you're looking to strut your stuff, there's no better place than at the Gathering Hall where multiplayer hunts can be found. The game supports four-player local connections but for the first time on the 3DS allows online co-op, also with up to four players. I was pleasantly surprised with the stability of the connection and ease of gathering a party during these sessions, even with partners from different corners of the globe. It's exciting to see a foursome wail on a giant beast, each wielding a different tool of destruction. However, the multiplayer also lessens the challenge by a significant amount. The monsters do not compensate for the added attackers, and whether or not their health is scaled to accommodate the larger party, each one was still defeated in a fraction of the time it took in solo mode, with not nearly as much personal satisfaction. It is, however, a quick way to net some monster "bits" for crafting, and is fun nonetheless with the added social element.
The monstrous fiends are exceptionally detailed, each an amalgamation of various animals. Their innards craft some equally stunning-looking equipment, and the animations of each are almost excessively flamboyant in their display. The environments, on the other hand, are primitive in comparison. Flattened foliage on the ground, simple water effects, and crudely cut walls show what the game had to sacrifice for such girth in content. Yet even with limited background animations, the world still feels alive, both with the small and large creatures that inhabit it and the colorful tribal artwork found throughout the adventure.
The voice acting consists of grunts, gasps, and plenty of meowing from the feline race of Palicoes that live alongside the humans. As expected, the monsters bellow with ferocity, sometimes even stunning and dazing you with the reverberations. The mellow town themes and adventuring fanfares crescendo into booming symphonies to alert you of the presence of a challenging foe. Drums thumping and horns blaring match the tribal aesthetic, presenting a soundscape that is uniquely tailored to the Monster Hunter series.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is the perfect fit for portable play, allowing you to devour piled-platter entrees or saucer-sized appetizers. Take on a hunt or two during your lunch hour, and if you can't finish, put the 3DS in sleep mode and spend the rest of the afternoon strategizing how to take down your mark. When you get home, crack the lid open and finish the job without missing a beat. Then spend the rest of the night tackling more quests. The game is rich in its variety of content, allowing for quick bouts at a crafting station or long slogs out in the field. Its appeal can span a variety of gamer profiles, and those who have not yet delved into the engrossing world of Monster Hunter have the best opportunity with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.
Date: February 10, 2015