Hey there sports fans. I hope you’ve been well. My own life has thrown me for a loop and I find myself in Santa Monica, CA. Along with the change of scene, my personal life and work life have had a major shift! Most of the changes have been good, but getting here has really been a wild ride. While my monster PC has been in storage, I hung onto my MacBook Pro until I find a permanent home (or as permanent as I ever get). This has slowed down my streaming career quite a bit, since serious PC gaming is a bit tough on the lappy. Even my PS3 is locked up until I move out. This has left me with Netflix, Nintendo 3DS and a lovely beach city to explore.
Walkable city and warm weather aside, I’ve been attached to my 3DS. My newly minted fiancé and I have been enjoying Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate co-op action. I’m a sucker for a solid co-op experience. For those of you who have played Monster Hunter before, this wont come as a surprise but the game has a steep learning curve. At first, (and at second and at third) the game controls seem clunky and slow. Each weapon feels as unwieldy as the next with the exception of the dual blades. I was shocked at first, so I did a bit of research on the topic and found a few schools of thought on those who complain that the combat feels clunky. 1) U suck noob, get better or stop playing 2) That’s just the style of the game, it’s hard on purpose to make it more fun and challenging. Perhaps these two views are saying essentially the same think that the player is slow and the monsters are fast by design. Each swing must be calculated, because if you plan poorly your lengthy combo leaves you open to devastating blows from your quarry. Although I’ve gotten then hang of ponderously swinging around my switch axe, I’m still not convinced this style of combat should be celebrated as genius design. It is certainly a barrier to entry so it makes people who are good at it feel good about themselves, it does give me a certain satisfaction when I manage to smash a wyvern’s face in with a clumsy hammer larger than I am.
Along with the awkward feeling combat system, the game design itself is a bit of a mystery to the uninitiated. You learn the game interface mostly by trial and error and the UI design is a bit of mystery even hours into the game. The game assumes the player knows things that are not obvious, where to go to start the quest you’ve selected, how resources work, what weapon sharpness means, how to set decorations into your armor. NPCs throughout the game give you tips here and there, but they aren’t always explicit about how things are done. Monsters themselves have mysterious loot tables that change based on what part of the monster you damage and whether you kill or capture your target. There is no obvious way to find a monster’s elemental or weapon type weaknesses without consulting a wiki. The wiki’s themselves are a bit mixed up since each wiki is not well filled out and mixes information from various MH games together in each entry. I guess I’ll just add all this to the steep learning curve mentioned above.
Now I guess this all seems very negative, but I wouldn’t have put 60 hours into it if MH3U did nothing right. The game rewards those who muddle through the goofy UI and gameplay. As I said before, once you master your weapon going out on hunts becomes addicting. You will need to hunt the same monster multiple times to build your armor sets, so you’ll find yourself repeating the same quest OVER and OVER to get that rare item you need. This can get tedious on your own. MH3U has two great mechanics to keep things fresh, well-developed co-op play and selecting a new weapon gives you an entirely new experience. I’m usually an archer, but I find the lack of a second thumb pad tough so I’ve been sticking to blades and hammers. The monsters themselves are glorious. They are big, tough and each has it’s own features and unique behaviors. Some fly, some burrow in the ground and others swim. The first time I battle a new powerful monster I get my rear handed to me until I get the hang of its behavior. Once I transition from butt kicked to butt kicker, the satisfaction is worth all the frustrations with the cumbersome game design. All and all, if you have a friend willing to sit down and play through the game with you, this purchase would be a no brainer, especially if you’ve got a friend willing to join you on the journey.