Sunday, January 25, 2015

DEMO-Lition: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (Early Access)

Nintendo and Capcom just released a bunch of early access demo codes for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate to a bunch of different people. And I seem to be one of those people. I don't know why, I've never shown an interest in Monster Hunter, and the Monster Hunter 3 demo I felt was weak. But here I am with a code for an early demo of a game so I might as well bring back DEMO-lition, and take this little demo apart.

14 different weapons, half of them are slow as hell.
When the demo starts off you have a choice between "Beginner" and "Experienced" pretty much to determine if you are new to the series or not. The Beginner selection will increase the player's stats and notates weapons as "recommended" (which oddly enough doesn't include the balanced "Sword & Shield" weapon selection); however, you can't select the hardest of the monsters available to hunt and you can't play with "Experienced" players. After you select your difficulty you go on to the title screen and then the selection of game modes: Solo, or multiplayer with local players OR online. After selecting the mode you select which monster to hunt out of three (each with a difficulty rating for it), and then finally weapon selection. Each of the 14 weapon types are available in this demo, and each one comes with a tutorial to explain how to use it. However, this is one of the problems with the Monster Hunter Demo.

Are we screwed yet?
While MH4U's demo is better than it's predecessor, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, in the fact that there is a demo that helps guide the player better, it is still frustrating as each of the weapon tutorials go though the weapon's information so quickly and without any depth that it's easy to miss or forget or even not understand what the weapon can do. This is harmful to the experience because what weapon you use is VERY important to this game, it basically determines what type of character you are. For example, I was trying out the Charge Blade, which is a weapon that has two modes, Sword & Shield and a Two handed Axe, and it was explained in the tutorial that I charge the weapon in Sword and Shield mode, and unleash that charge in Axe mode. But I couldn't figure out how to charge the weapon, and eventually I couldn't do any damage in Sword mode because of a warning I was getting in that mode. I had no idea what was going on or how to fix it, which made hunting really hard. I hope this is something that is fixed in the fill game, that each weapon gets a proper tutorial on how to effectively use it.

Anyway, after selecting your monster, you get sent to the area to hunt, and if you are playing Beginner you can turn on tutorials about various things like movement, jump attacks and the like. Again, there is a sever lack of information given in these tutorials, like for most weapons you have to sheath it in order to use Items. But eventually (if you follow the markers) you will find your prey and if you are playing alone you will get a short cutscene with the monster. When fighting the first monster, the cutscene will actually initiate one of the new features of MH4, mount attacks. See, after doing a jumping attack, which requires either a ledge to jump off of or a climbable wall (or my favorite weapon thus far), you can jump on top of the monster which will initiate a mini "Shadow of the Colossus" event. Here you have to stab the monster to fill up this gauge, one the gauge is full the monster will be stunned and you can continue to wail on it. However, as you are doing that the gauge is also turning red with a Monster head moving up the gauge Pacman style. The Monster Head will move up the gauge faster when the monster is thrashing about, and the only way to slow this down is to stop attacking and hold R to maintain your grip. If the Monster Head icon ever reaches the end of the portion of the gauge you have filled up, then you are thrown off. These events are simple, but very fun and do help break up what would have otherwise been just running around stabbing a monster in the butt. However, the circumstances required to start a mount attack are VERY limited, and even then it is a struggle to aim properly. UNLESS you have the Insect Glaive.

This weapon is SO badass.
As I said, weapons in Monster Hunter are very important as they are pretty much your class. As such, trying out each of the weapons is highly important, and I feel that playing through the demo multiple times to try out each of the weapons is very important. For me, a lot of the weapons felt very slow and limited (which hopefully are counterbalanced by attack power and other features). While I haven't played with all of them my favorites became the Sword & Shield for their balance, the Dual Blade for their sheer speed, and, perhaps my favorite of all the weapons I tried, the new weapon the Insect Glaive. The Insect Glaive not only fairly fast (about the same attack speed as the Sword & Shield) but it also has a very wide hit zone, combos easily, and has the ability to power up your character. The "Kinsect" associated with the Insect Glaive can suck up buffs from the monster you are attacking and then give you said buffs. But even that nuance isn't the Insect Glaive's greatest asset in my opinion. The Insect Glaive's best advantage is that you can do a pole vault off of it to do mount attack when ever you want. So guess what I did every chance I had?

So how is the demo? It's not perfect, the bare bones and information lax tutorials are it's greatest weakness, and I would like to see more than just the hunt featured in this demo. I always felt like the BEST game demos I've ever played where the Etrian Odyssey demos. That's because there it was limited to the first 2 floors of the dungeon and the max level was 10; however, nearly everything you could do in the full game you could do in the demo, giving you a genuine feel for what the game was like. Here, you only get the experience of going on a monster hunt, and not the crafting, gathering, or other elements of the game that might be more interesting to other players. However, I still had fun with the demo and some of the weapons (Insect Glaive) where really fun to use. The online support was also rock solid as I noticed no lag or slow down even with four other players. If only Smash Bros was that smooth.

Until next time.

-CRES, Oddly enough the Sword & Shield users are ALSO left handed.

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