Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate Review

Control issues and a lack of online play hamper what's otherwise an outstanding Monster Hunter game.

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Gathering mushrooms. Mining ore. Fishing. Slaying giant dragons made of rock. Whether or not this sounds familiar depends heavily on your experience with the Monster Hunter series thus far. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is an enhanced port of 2010's excellent Monster Hunter Tri, refining that game's structure by adding a bunch of new content and a far more robust online component. Thwacking huge beasts with a greatsword or picking them off from afar with a bow has never been so comprehensive and satisfying. However, the 3DS version suffers from some concessions that make it less appealing than its Wii U counterpart.

A wyvern patrols, tossing its head back and forth as it snaps lazily at a nearby herd of grazing aptanoth. You sneak up, weapon sheathed, waiting for the right time to strike. Suddenly, the hulking beast turns. It notices you. Quickly, you draw your blade as the beast charges. You roll, but not quickly enough. A blow catches you, sending you flying to one side as your sidekick, Cha-Cha, screams in alarm. Quick as a flash, you spring to your feet, up and into the fray, taking a swing that connects satisfyingly with the creature's head. It roars, stamps its feet, and charges again.

These encounters, these epic battles of man vs. mythical beast, are the centerpieces of Monster Hunter. Nearly three years on, and the monsters of this imaginary world are no less intimidating and no less menacing when threatened. Sure, you still start off being sent out against herbivores, or to gather mushrooms and resources, but as soon as you get into the fray proper, things really kick off. The game looks fantastic in 3D; the effect gives the battles real depth and a sense of scale, even on the small screen.

The touch screen is used well here too. You have two options: classic, which uses the touch screen as additional buttons, or dynamic, which displays things like the HUD and the map, leaving the top screen free of clutter. The dynamic choice is by far the better of the two, since it adds extra button functionality as well. It's a neat use of the system, and by leaving the top screen solely for the action, it's a really clean, well-laid-out experience.

However, there's a significant drawback to the 3DS version: control. The single analog pad isn't much of a problem at first. You can snap the camera behind you with the left bumper and control it with the D-pad or the touch screen, and the lock-on camera makes fights pretty manageable on land, even if it's not ideal. However, once you get underwater, things take a turn for the frustrating. The underwater sections, which require you to constantly shift the camera to navigate, are almost unplayable using the 3DS without a Circle Pad Pro to give you direct control of the camera.

Large-scale fights aren't so bad, thanks to the aforementioned lock-on camera, but navigating the pools and lakes of Monster Hunter is an utter chore. Given the number of underwater sections, the Circle Pad Pro is basically mandatory if you're looking to play this version. With the add-on, the game controls perfectly, just as well as its Wii U counterpart, but having to purchase a separate item just to make the game properly playable is a real shame.

Eventually you begin farming Royal Ludroths or Lagombis to build or improve weapons and armor, and this collect-'em-all aspect of Monster Hunter remains as addictive as it has always been. There's more on offer than in Tri, with a bunch of new monsters added, thus leading to new weapons and armor as well. And for a game so focused on grinding and fighting the same creatures over again, it does a remarkable job of keeping things fresh. Battles rarely play out the same, whether you're tackling a variety of different beasts or simply taking on the same one repeatedly. Each beast has its own strengths and weaknesses, its own characteristics to learn, and even if you've fought the same monster multiple times, it's still capable of surprising you by varying its attack patterns and catching you unawares.

The vast scope of weapon types and armor provides plenty of content, as well. Mastering one single weapon feels like a game in itself, and the difference between using, say, greatswords or dual blades results in a huge variety in how you approach combat. Taking down a giant poisonous leech with a hammer is very different from attacking it with a bowgun. This gives you more patterns to learn, approaches to take, and things to consider. The lengthy animations when you use healing items are still present, but they add an excellent element of tension, although without the Circle Pad Pro, you rely heavily on the auto lock-on for camera movement. With the add-on, though, camera control is just as fluid and versatile as the console version.

Sadly, the 3DS version doesn't offer out-of-the-box online play, and this is another huge drawback. Local play is still present, and the downloadable quests are available, but connecting with others online is, for now, impossible. Given that the online play is perhaps the best aspect of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, it's a huge part of the game to restrict. The only way to take the 3DS version online is to use a currently unavailable application due out in the eShop; you'll also need a Wii U and a Wii/Wii U LAN adapter. The local play might compensate for these limitations if you have a bunch of friends who play Monster Hunter, but given that the game's popularity is far less widespread in the West than in its native Japan, most people aren't going to be able to stroll through town and hook up with random monster hunters for impromptu adventures.

The 3DS game does connect to the Wii U version, though, allowing you to play on the 3DS locally while one player uses the GamePad. Using the 3DS as an additional Wii U controller is an excellent idea, but again, it requires multiple people with copies of the game in the same place. You will be able transfer your Wii U save to the 3DS version, though bear in mind that this option requires that same app, which is not available as of this writing.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate isn't an entirely new game. Players who sank hundreds of hours into Tri are going to find the majority of the content familiar, but given the nature of Monster Hunter, this isn't necessarily a problem. You make progress fast, so tackling the same beasts you already fought in the same locations a few years ago isn't really a deterrent. As a stand-alone game, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate pales in comparison to its console counterpart. It's still worth getting if you don't own a Wii U and absolutely can't wait for a new handheld Monster Hunter (the 3DS-exclusive Monster Hunter 4, with online play, is due out later this year), but the drawbacks make this version harder to recommend.

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The Good
Excellent large-scale battles
Huge amount of compelling customization
Monsters are fantastically realized
The Bad
No integrated online play
Without the Circle Pad Pro, the underwater camera is atrocious
Controls are awkward
7
Good
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Discussion

90 comments
zerantoss
zerantoss

MY PERSONAL REVIEW:


I just bought this game for the WiiU and have never played any monster hunter games before. I'm only like one hour in and haven't faced any bosses yet but... I don't know it just doesn't seem like it will be fun. 


The intro of the game felt like there was TOO MUCH TEXT. The text boxes are so small and hard to read. Also as an aside, I think one of the character models was repeated in the town at the starting of the game, which kinda breaks a sense of atmosphere. 


The biggest turnoff is that the graphics are complete garbage. I feel like I'm playing N64. The enemies look like crap and combat seems boring and controls are awkward. I just finished playing dark souls, which is probably one of the best games ever made. Visually and combat wise, dark souls and MH3 seem like complete opposites with dark souls being perfection and MH3 being a steaming pile of diarrhea dog shit. 


Waste of $30

dannyn16
dannyn16

First of all, I picked this game up about 4 months ago. This was my FIRST time taking part in this Series. The Controls are not that bad. Yes the underwater combat isn't the most perfect thing in the world but I managed. The use of the D-Pad on the touch screen works fine like an actual Second analog stick. I'm already 80 hours into this game and I LOVE it. The other controls are fine. Its a great game and I'm glad I gave it a chance. I'm already use to playing with these controls. The one on the PSP was where you had every right to complain about the controls because that "Claw" movement just killed my interest the first time I tried it. But again the CONTROLS are FINE.

ianlone
ianlone

is necesary the multiplayer for end the game?? o can be ending in single mode??

Louistje1
Louistje1

If you need so long to get used to the controls, the game failed in some respect. There's no discussion about that... I just played the demo version and the controls were the worst I've ever experienced in any 3DS game.

MH4156
MH4156

The controls are fine, but underwater battles still need improvements. Great game however, for those who are great enough to take down tough monsters.

kurisu2233
kurisu2233

So sick of people using the controls as an excuse for the fact that they suck at this game, although I agree underwater combat sucks, 9/10 get rid of the fish in MH4! And I want my Kitty warrior back, Shakalakas are meant to be killed. Tigrex is coming back in MH4, you MH3 people have no idea how F&*d you are! 

udmatador
udmatador

the controls are not "atrocious"...there not even that bad in water, give MH3U some credit to work with what it had, you just have to get used to it..this is a good companion to the wii u version...if you dont have the wii version just make sure you know what monster hunter is and that you're willing to play alone or hav friends.  it's fun!

FlameEmperor
FlameEmperor

The controls are just fine for me o-o 

Never had any problems so far. It just took a bit to adjust to it. Not even using the Circle Pad Pro.

tiyoy_araguy
tiyoy_araguy

At first it was a bit awkward controlling the camera, especially on underwater battles... After a few hours of play time, you're be surprised that you just adapted to its controls.... MH games are usually criticized by their poor control. Still the game rocks and never heard complaints from my friends here playing a 4 player local connection... 

nonfanboygamer1
nonfanboygamer1

I played the demo, the controls were akward. Another odd thing was all the loading screens. Couldn't run far at all without having it to load.

gix47
gix47

feels like he was reaching for something negative to say about the 3DS version.

rajangrondo
rajangrondo

people complaining about controls are total noobs period. monster hunter is for hardcore gamers and anyone who rates this as low as the reviewer has no business playing this game

Ipsylos
Ipsylos

What I don't understand is why it gets a lower score for not having something in it. Should we give Skyrim a lower score due to lack of multiplayer? Of course not. Why not you ask? because we're gamespot, that's why and we expect everything to be in every game every time, period, except for Skyrim.


I mean sure, it's a downer but it's a lot different than giving a lower scored based on crappy multiplayer than the absence of it entirely, they're essentially downgrading the game for the non existence of multiplayer instead of the content that's actually there. It has more content than most games released in the last decade, yet those games get higher scores? This game has guns too, and blood, so why not give it a 9?


advocacy
advocacy

If it had online play and if you could play this game with a Circle Pad Pro, this game would be kingly.  Sadly, this is not the case, and the game's rating suffers for it.

Kalithro
Kalithro

MHFU was good on the PSP, I got use to the claw.  2013 now, no multiplayer online, no deal!  Wish a Monster Hunter would come out for the PS Vita, and not one with stupid under water fights.

Vestia
Vestia

That's about it for my faith in Gamespot-

Luigi's Mansion, and now this. I realize that not ell games should be 9.0+,
but these two damn fine games got atrocious reviews, just like most other handheld games, apparently because they don't live up to a PC standard. If you were as willing to put time into this game as you would be with any major title with a big name, you'd realize that controls, AND the camera are easily dealt with after just a few hours of play. Maybe you never got around to changing the on-screen buttons for the camera, but the game is hardly to blame for that. Deep games like this CRAVES some kind of advanced controls (not talking about the camera), to add somewhat depth to the gameplay, and the longevity of the game. If you're not willing to put that time in, well, you're not getting the full experience that you should be reviewing in the first place. I agree on the no online play part, it would be nice to hook it up with some people you can't meet in person at times, but it's mainly just bad because it's expected, and because you can play online on the Wii.

csward
csward

No online play? Really? Too bad, I thought that's what these games are about.

chyng85
chyng85

Good version for this game~

Satan666HellDie
Satan666HellDie

I dont think the controls are bad. dont see whats the fuzz is about?

No different from the rest of the monster hunter games.

Its a hard game to master, but that is their intention.

Its suppose to be hard.

just buy a circle pad pro if you find them hard to handle. and they dont cost any money at all.

Minishdriveby
Minishdriveby

Called it after playing the Demo. The controls were horrible. I won't be picking this one up. I might get the Wii-U version whenever I get a Wii-U though.

Jd234
Jd234

this is my first in the series i have 3ds verison i \found camera hard at first but now ive gotten use to it and surpriseingly i find hitting with the long swords harder then swimming underwater i dont mind that its not that hard but no online play is brutal

thedarkhero
thedarkhero

@zerantoss You don't play this game for story or atmosphere. Setting and graphics are the last things you should care about. These games are played for fun and challenge. The game takes a while before letting you run loose. In fact, the game itself is only 500 hours minimum. It took me 3 hours before I was able to fight a Great Jaggi. The gameplay is about reflex, planning, self discovery and patience.


(yes I realise that this is an old comment)

D3xin
D3xin

i actually like the fact they dogged the controls, because honestly, the only people who should be playing this are the ones with experience. nobody wants to hunt with a noob. constantly in the way and constantly upswinging.... but yea, play monster hunter if u want to play a true hard game. and if you dont play monster hunter, i dont care. lol. agreed?

kurisu2233
kurisu2233

@FlameEmperor Exactly I have come up with about 3 ways to control the camera, people are just using it as an excuse because they can't beat Qurupeco

Louistje1
Louistje1

@rajangrondo When a game feels clunky and unresponsive, it won't get amazing reviews saying the controls aren't that bad...

D3xin
D3xin

perfectly said. lmao, love the name. im from kentucky so i get it

kurisu2233
kurisu2233

@rajangrondo remember the ratings for the MHF games? They only gave tri good ratings because they made it easier, until you get to the guild at least

Doomerang
Doomerang

@Ipsylos There's a difference between penalizing a game for something not being there when it was never the focus in the first place (Multiplayer in skyrim)  and penalizing a game where one of the major features of the game is to play with others. Given that there's an entire section of the game dedicated specifically so you can hunt monsters with other players, having no online function - and thus drastically limiting the chance of finding other players - is a completely valid reason to dock points from this game, regardless of how good it is.

gix47
gix47

@advocacy is those 2 things really that important to take off from the score or are they things that just should be mentioned 

Satan666HellDie
Satan666HellDie

@advocacy you can use the circle pad pro, not on the demo tho.

killa32130
killa32130

@Kalithro This is the updated Wii version of the which is why it has underwater combat, MH4 on the 3DS won't have underwater and will come with online.

chaosarmor
chaosarmor

@Jd234 Yeah it kinda sucks but they did say that MH4 when it comes out will have online play. They just said taht they didnt have enough time to implement it in this version before launch.

bojox3m
bojox3m

@Jd234 I guessing it's capcom's marketing strategy kicking in. If they made an online play with the 3ds version, no one will buy the wiiU version.

LeBlancChien
LeBlancChien

@Grim_Reaper007 @rajangrondo no, really.. after some learning and adjusting your touchscreen buttons (and your thumbs), the control actually feels appropriate.. totally not 'shit' scheme..

kurisu2233
kurisu2233

@killa32130 @Kalithro Whole reason I bought a 3DS! Unfortunately I thought we were getting 4 in March, I was crushed when I found out it was effing Tri! Fighting fish is LAME 

Satan666HellDie
Satan666HellDie

@bdixon76 @Satan666HellDie I just bought mine today here in the eu. But they havent been around for more than a week. So keep your eyes open in your store.

chaosarmor
chaosarmor

@LastRambo341 @Minishdriveby Yeah I dunno why people complain about the camera. I've been playing it on the PSP and it's pretty much the same though you have a freakin' lock-on system with this one. Granted it isnt a full on lock-on, even without it what's so hard about hitting the L button to orientate your screen to your char's back or using the directional buttons? The circle pad makes a diff but honestly I still prefer MH without it since i'm so used to it from the PSP titles.

thedarkhero
thedarkhero

@bojox3m @Jd234 Actually the Wii U version is an updated port of the 3DS version. The ports came out a year apart in Japan but simultaneously here in the west

Ipsylos
Ipsylos

@bojox3m @Jd234 Many people would actually. I prefer MH on the big screen, it brings everything to life better than on the small screen, and monsters feel massive. I can't really play the PSP ones after playing the Wii/Wii U and PS3 ones. They're just so much better IMO.

Grim_Reaper007
Grim_Reaper007

@LeBlancChien @Grim_Reaper007 @rajangrondo I kow you can get used to it, I played it a lot on ps2 (which had proper controls) and PSP which was frustrating as hell, even when you get used to it. Personally it felt like i was battling controls just as much as the monsters... well for boss monsters at least.

bdixon76
bdixon76

@chaosarmor @LastRambo341 @Minishdriveby They realeased a PZP version of  Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate? News to me... Have you played the 3DS version? 

I guess its obvious why you don't know why people complain then.


Controls w/o circle pad are terrible.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate More Info

  • First Released
    • 3DS
    • Wii U
    Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate utilises the functionalities of the Wii U console and Nintendo 3DS system to provide players with a truly intuitive hunting experience.
    8.6
    Average User RatingOut of 250 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Capcom
    Published by:
    Capcom, Nintendo
    Genres:
    Role-Playing, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence