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Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate 3DS review

Capcom puts monsters in our pocket in its greatest hunt to date

A beast stirs in its cave, its pallid hide shaking with effort as it heaves a hulking frame to its feet. Great hairy knuckles rub at bloodshot eyes before a gob full of yellowed fangs emits the most terrible roar. "What do you mean, ONM gave Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate Wii U only 79 per cent?" it bawls. Uh-oh, the internet commenter is awake. But is he wrong?

Capcom's beast-bopping behemoth is digital Marmite: for every gamer guzzling it down like well cooked steak, there's another chewing unhappily on burned meat.

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This reviewer (there is no ONM consensus where MonHan is concerned) found it to be a delectable dish. It helps if you buy into the lovably daft concept: it's little more than a parade of increasingly screen-hogging boss fights. Capcom decks it out with a time-devouring craft and trade system, but at its heart the game taps into the childish fantasy of finding a beastie and whacking it with a massive stick. Taken in its crudest sense, Ultimate takes a game full of monsters you've whacked before (2009's Monster Hunter Tri) and populates it with whackees afresh.

You fight giant blue bears that pin you down and steal your lunch honey. Desert dunes hide Nibelsnarfs, with maws full of glinting teeth and rubbery tonsils that scream out to be poked for massive damage. A volcano jaunt introduces Volvidon, a Groudon from the wrong side of the tracks who boasts a tongue that could demolish a crate of Cornettos in a single lick. A personal favourite is Duramboros, whose demolition ball tail is whipped in a deadly arc in what resembles a bizarre burst of fevered breakdancing. He'll have someone's eye out and head pancaked.

Whacking Phoenix

Play a Monster Hunter game for months on end and it's easy to forget the thrill of the initial monster encounter: the pulse blip as the battle music kicks in, the dismay when you realise just how big it is, the catharsis of finally bringing it down. Time sees that magic fade - you begin to see intricate designs as nothing more than hit boxes and handy giblets - but Ultimate's injection of some 30 or so beasts into the ecosystem will delay it for another 100 hours. Even returning faces pack a few surprises with reworked attacks and animations.

It's a shame, then, that much of this is buried in a straight retelling of Tri. We counted five new tasks in the first four ranks of missions, front-loading the game with familiar mushroom collecting and Jaggi-bagging. It's 20 hours in a game some will invest 300 in, but casual Tri dabblers might feel fobbed off. An easy fix is to embrace a new weapon. Classes handle so differently that putting down your trusty Long Sword for a bow is like stepping into a new game. Four all-new types (see box, opposite) equals four new approaches to well trodden ground.

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As for Wii U versus 3DS? For starters, the bitty mission structure and focus on gradual grind (you pop into areas to harvest resources for kit upgrades) are a more natural fit for half-hour sessions here and there.

The act of squeezing it into a 3DS is also a bigger leap than buffing it up to 1080p. Where Wii U merely offers a sharp Wii game, 3DS delivers Wii quality in handheld form. Any loss in TV scale is made up for in 3D depth, with environments that really pop and a tangible sense of monsters charging towards the screen.

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Comments

23 comments so far...
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  1. torterratrainer Tuesday 19th Mar 2013 at 17:50

    And here's the good review, i say no more

  2. Dan-the-Wii-man Tuesday 19th Mar 2013 at 18:00

    I felt the same thing when playing the demos; the Wii U one didn't look that amazing, but the 3DS one really seemed better. Did i hear somewhere that you can access the online content on 3DS using your Wii U even if you don't have the game on Wii U?

  3. EdDeRs1 Tuesday 19th Mar 2013 at 18:19

    ONLY 88%!?!?!?! oh that is it you're loosing your skin (pulls out huge knife)

  4. Xaltheron Tuesday 19th Mar 2013 at 18:39

    I think 88% is fair, over 90% would mean it's a must buy for everyone, and MH is one of those games where the people who love it REALLY love it, and the people who hate it REALLY hate it.

    I'm not really fussed about the lack of online play, I've always preferred playing with people I know than a bunch of strangers online.

  5. Xenobladeperson Tuesday 19th Mar 2013 at 18:47

    This review is much more reasonable. Matthew, join the Hunter Clan.

  6. hamzahdsi Tuesday 19th Mar 2013 at 19:35

    This review is much more reasonable. Matthew, join the Hunter Clan.


    This. I do agree that the lack of online is a big let down, so the score is perfectly reasonable

  7. Grovyle Tuesday 19th Mar 2013 at 20:45

    From playing the demo i understand the point about the controls, they are clunky however it feels as though you will eventually get used to them- they just differ from the norm. An example of brilliant camera controls for me would be resident evil revelations, even without the Pro you can still play with ease. The online, or indeed the absence of it is a shame but we have to remember that this game is from japan, somewhere where there are cafes dedicated to Monster Hunter so finding LAN companions is very easy. Developers need to start recognising the 3ds's online potential because its really holding the console as a whole back.

  8. lionel_jumpfluff Tuesday 19th Mar 2013 at 22:32

    A much fairer score. Shame there isnt online play, and underwater combat will take a bit of time to get used to, other than that looks its going to be a great game. Completely agree with your review.

  9. yoshimad Tuesday 19th Mar 2013 at 23:33

    Finally doing the expansion (because that's all it is) justice. But I'm still getting it! :D

  10. parasky Wednesday 20th Mar 2013 at 02:33

    Okay, this is a much better review than the wii u review, but you don't have to start the review sending a DIRECT INSULT towards the people who criticized the old review.

    Another thing, the reason why we have the two reviews from a different perceptive is the fact that they were reviewed by two different people, but it makes a even larger problem seeing as some people use onm as there only review source. So when two games which are almost exactly the same get noticeable different scores, they'll think that the 3ds version was better, which it probably isn't seeing as it lacks online play making a large section of the game extremely hard.

    If you are going to have multiple people review a game, just have a system where 2 people give there opinions of a game and give it a combined score.

  11. Theiz Wednesday 20th Mar 2013 at 13:41

    I think one thing people fail to consider is this. The reason the Wii U version graphics may not blow your mind could be because in order to make it playable on both systems it had to make sure the DS could handle the graphics it would be outputting. To do this it may have had to be scaled back. That's my take on it.

  12. MatthewONM Wednesday 20th Mar 2013 at 13:49

    Okay, this is a much better review than the wii u review, but you don't have to start the review sending a DIRECT INSULT towards the people who criticized the old review.


    Dude, it's a joke. No need for angry capital letters.

  13. Argenthor Wednesday 20th Mar 2013 at 17:27

    Okay, this is a much better review than the wii u review, but you don't have to start the review sending a DIRECT INSULT towards the people who criticized the old review.


    Dude, it's a joke. No need for angry capital letters.

    + To be fair, a review is an opinion so you would be perfectly justified in referring to those who bashed an opinion. I think there is a tendency to think that as ONM is the 'Official Nintendo' mag, it will be bias towards big games for the Wii U. It's refreshing frankly to see that if a game has faults they will be acknowledged.

    And as long as a review is well written and justified it can't be bad. You can't argue with that...

  14. parasky Wednesday 20th Mar 2013 at 17:57

    + To be fair, a review is an opinion so you would be perfectly justified in referring to those who bashed an opinion. I think there is a tendency to think that as ONM is the 'Official Nintendo' mag, it will be bias towards big games for the Wii U. It's refreshing frankly to see that if a game has faults they will be acknowledged.

    And as long as a review is well written and justified it can't be bad. You can't argue with that...


    Then again, this is the same website that gave NSMB2 a 90% and spent 75% of the review criticizing it.

    Look, ONM isn't a bad review site, I just don't really trust them with some franchises due to them having huge bias towards many things.

  15. KH81314 Wednesday 20th Mar 2013 at 18:03

    This shouldn't have a better review than the Wii U version.

  16. parasky Wednesday 20th Mar 2013 at 18:11

    This shouldn't have a better review than the Wii U version.


    Expect that it was reviewed by a different reviewer. I'd imagine that if the reviewer was the same as the Wii U they would've given a more balanced score between the versions.

    I will back you up by saying this however:

    A game which relies on on-line play for the majority of it's content lacking on-line functions is inexcusable for a 3DS game. Plus, capcom also released Super Street Fighter IV, which featured on-line networking 2 years before the release of this game.

    In fact, I'd probably prefer the 3DS version if it came with region free on-line, seeing as I felt it overall ran nicer than the Wii U version and featured excellent 3D effects.

  17. Tailzy Wednesday 20th Mar 2013 at 21:36

    is it safe to say that if matthew reviewed the WiiU version we'd be looking at a 90+ game?

  18. MatthewONM Wednesday 20th Mar 2013 at 21:49

    is it safe to say that if matthew reviewed the WiiU version we'd be looking at a 90+ game?


    No. I'd have given both versions 88%. My complaints about the structure of the game goes for both - front-loaded with dull single-player content - and I think the Wii U version is pretty ugly and has weird frame rate issues. Yes, it has online play, and that's a big benefit, but I think the game works better as a single-player experience on a portable. Add it all up and they both have good points and bad points, and would both get 88%. Ta-da!

  19. IPecksU Thursday 21st Mar 2013 at 01:44

    From the demo I actually didn't have a problem using the touchscreen to control the camera, actually kinda liked it. Had no problem in the water either. I guess I'm just awesome.

  20. liveswired Thursday 21st Mar 2013 at 21:02

    Having played the 3DS demo I was impressed with the sheer scale of the environments, the excellent graphics (3D in particular) and obviously the incredible depth to the gameplay.

    Overall, however, I didn't really find the gameplay much fun - it's almost as if the design team were inspired by the old 3D games prior to Ocarina of Time and the legendary Z targeting - which is infused in some form in almost every 3D adventure/action/platformer/rpg today.

  21. marka23 Thursday 4th Apr 2013 at 17:50

    How this got rated as a 12 I don't know

  22. Xenobladeperson Friday 5th Apr 2013 at 22:22

    How this got rated as a 12 I don't know


    If it was the BBFC it would get a 12 and no one would think twice.

  23. GameDirect Tuesday 30th Apr 2013 at 16:55

    Looks better then 2 but the graphics look slightly dodgey

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