THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!
While this game received very good scores from pretty much everyone, it was the sort of game we were not expecting to like. Therefore, we were pleasantly surprised when we quickly grew to love it. Yeah, we’re kinda late to the party with this review…In fact we missed the party entirely and now the cleaning staff is giving us weird looks because we’re dancing by ourselves and-Look, we’re doing this review anyway.
Of course, as we got further into the game we began to hate it, but then we began to love it again. Then some new quests unlocked and we began to hate it ag-Look, long story short, we’ve developed something of a love-hate relationship with the game.
- The designs of the weapons, armours and monsters are beautiful and often very creative.
- The monsters really feel like they belong in the world. Maybe more than you do.
- Combat is tricky to master, but satisfying when you do.
- The game offers a nice challenge. It’s certainly not easy.
- Mounting is a nice new mechanic
- The game is pretty tight-lipped about things it really should tell you about.
- It’s limited by its platform, so the graphics aren’t great
- The difficultly is not always fair
- Frenzy’s not so great as a new addition
For those unfamiliar with the series, we’ll get you up to speed.
You play as a fresh faced monster hunter, out to earn fame and glory by hunting the absurdly dangerous wildlife. Over the course of the game you’ll get a number of quests asking you to hunt certain monsters (As well as far less interesting ones asking you to do other things) and you then have to smack those monsters around until they fall over and die. This is nowhere near as easy as it sounds.
Your character doesn’t level up and can’t put points into attributes, so how well you do really depends on what equipment you take with you for your hunt. This equipment is made out of stuff you can find in the different areas you get sent to and, more importantly, monster parts. Every time you kill a monster you can carve off a few parts and you generally get some for completing a quest as well.
Some drops are very rare, but you can generally boost the chances of getting that drop by breaking certain part of a monster. For example, if you hit a claw or horn enough, it will break and you’ll have better odds of getting the drop associated with whatever you just broke. You can even sever part of a monster’s tail, provided you’re using a bladed weapon.
There technically is a plot to MH4, but it’s really not worth mentioning. It comes down to “Monsters are acting weird. Go hit them with big sticks until they stop moving.” And for some reason you are the only one competent enough with a big stick to do this.
So, what caused us to fall in love with the game?
This is a great game. Drop what you’re doing and go buy it. It’s a 3DS game, so it doesn’t look that great graphically speaking, but the design for pretty much everything is incredible. Weapons and armour look either really cool or really funny and you can see the love that was put into their design in every small detail.
Same goes for the monsters. They generally look really cool and honestly don’t really feel out of place in the world the game presents. With most monsters you can even kind of see the actual animals they were based on, if they aren’t just bigger, meaner versions of that animal with a few extra teeth.
While the basics come easy combat still isn’t easy to master, but that’s good. It’s part of the game’s unforgiving nature. If a monster is giving you trouble, you’ll soon learn it’s attack pattern and eventually you’ll beat it simply because you can predict every move it’s going to make.
Speaking of which, this game is not easy. The monsters hit very hard and they’re definitely not stupid, so if you’re not careful they’ll kick your ass all the way back to base camp. Learn to dodge and block or learn to enjoy the sight of your hunter passing out while a monster river dances on their head.
Mounting is a great new feature, as it can allow you to topple a monster for quite a bit so you can get some free whacks at whatever part you’re trying to break. It’s not always easy or even possible, but it’s very satisfying when you manage it.
What about the hate part of our relationship with this game, though? Well, that comes down to a few simple things.
Insecurity and Poor Player Training
Should a game tell you everything? Of course not. That would be boring.
Should the game give you clear methods of working it out for yourself? Of course it bloody should. A game should give you hints to work with, not the whole story.
The game doesn’t tell you anything about different status effects, what certain aspects of your weapons and armour mean or if you should upgrade or replace your equipment. We only learned we could put fire out faster by rolling through water when we did it accidentally. Sure, makes sense in hindsight, but nothing we’d seen or been told by the game up until then gave us even a hint that this was possible within the game mechanics.
These are things the game really should tell you about, but it’s as tight-lipped about this as it is about the monsters. The only information you can possibly find in the monster list in the game, is the length of the monster and how many you’ve fought…Because that’s what you wanna know….Uhuh…
What element is it weak to? What does it drop? What can I try to break while fighting it? Screw you, figure it out yourself.
Okay game, say we need an item to make a piece of armour. However, this item only drops 10% of the time, unless we break something from a monster, which raises the odds to 40%. How are we supposed to work this out? Breaking parts of a monster generally isn’t easy, considering they’re rather opposed to sitting there and just letting you hit one specific part of their body over and over. Without looking it up online, we’d never know what to break and you certainly aren’t going to tell us.
Could we get like a Pokedex or something in the next game? You know, something that tells us things about the monster we didn’t already know?
We’ve mentioned breaking parts of a monster a few times now, but even that is not a fool proof solution to getting a rare drop. It seriously boost the chances, most of the time, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually get the drop.
It is incredibly frustrating to know you spent 30 minutes on a hunt that cost you all your healing items and, even though you did everything right, you still didn’t get that drop you needed to finish your new sword.
It’s not just the drops, though. You can eat meals to boost certain stats before you head out for a hunt, and what ingredients are fresh that day are also determined randomly. This might mean only the really crappy ingredients are fresh and the really good ones will be far less effective.
Clearly you can’t do away with this entirely, as the series relies heavily on the randomness, but it can and probably should be adjusted to give the player a bit more slack. When we can hunt the same monster ten damn times without getting the drop we need, something is wrong.
Frenzy and Arbitrary Difficulty
As we’ve said, it’s good that this game is unforgiving. We like a challenge and the game certainly provides that. Monsters hit hard, your health regenerates really slowly, dodging doesn’t always help and there’s a number of things you have to keep in mind while fighting. That’s fine.
That makes the game hard, but it’s fair.
Sadly, a lot of what makes the game hard just…basically isn’t fair.
Frenzy, a new status condition introduced in this game, is a perfect example of this. Monster Hunter’s version of combat is entirely based on carefully thinking out your approach. What do you want to hit? When do you need to back away or block? Frenzy does not allow for this.
If you get infected with frenzy (And you will, because it’s almost impossible not to if you actually want to hit an infected monster), a bar will slowly start to fill up. If it fills before you’ve hit the infected monster enough, your health will no longer regenerate and you’ll take increased damage for a time. If you hit the monster enough before the bar fills, you’ll get a barely noticeable attack boost.
The only way to avoid the downside to Frenzy is to run up to a monster and desperately flail at it, doing as much damage as you can before time runs out. The exact opposite of what you’ve learned to do up until now.
You can only break parts of a monster while it’s alive, so this can completely screw you over if a rare drop was your entire reason for a hunt. The Gore Magalla and his evolved form are a particular pain in the ass for this reason.
There’s other things that make the game unfairly hard too. Mostly this comes down to extremely long animations you can’t stop or cut short. If you need to heal, eat, or sharpen your weapons during a fight, settle in to watch the entire animation play out while a monster walks up and tries to decide what bit of your distracted idiot of a hunter it wants to bite off first.
It’s particularly bad for the healing animation. Your character will stop, drink a potion and then put their hands in the air triumphantly and stand there without doing anything for several seconds as if the monster is already dead. The monster, meanwhile, will be charging at your immobile dumbass at 80 miles per hour, ready to undo the work your potion just did.
Hunting two monsters is great fun because of the slow animations. One will knock you down, the other will hit you while you’re getting up and then the first will hit you right back as if they are playing a bizarre game of ping pong and you are the ball.
Getting hit in these situations is not the fault of the player. It’s just the game deciding to make it clear that it particularly dislikes you today.
So yeah, we love this game, but god we hate this game sometimes. Actually, we still aren’t entirely done with it. We’ve got a few quests left, but we’ve played through the majority of the game so far. When the new quests on locked we were caught somewhere between “Yay! New Monsters!” and “Oh bloody hell, there’s still more?”
We highly recommend you give the game a go, but we really can’t blame you if you wind up throwing your 3DS out of the window.