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Review: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate hates me.  I’m not offended tho, if you play the game it will hate you too.  That’s just the way it is.  You see, Monster Hunter is a series that doesn’t really much care if you understand it or not.  Oh, it may appear to hold your hand in the very beginning, but as soon as it can ditch you it’s going to leave you alone and running for your life from a giant wyvern-like creature. monster-hunter-3-ultimate201211-19-12001For years, this had kept me from really getting into the series.  Well, that and the fact that there have always been hurdles in place to playing the game comfortably online.  There was no voice chat of any kind in the original on the PS2.  The PSP games didn’t even have online play, you could only play with people in the same room as you.  Then the Wii version, the original Monster Hunter 3, used the horrendously bad Wii Speak.  Just…no.  So it was with no small amount of hesitation that I picked up the Wii U version, determined to give the series another shot.  Within the first week that I owned the game, I inadvertently sold a good friend of mine on a Wii U.  You see, he has been a huge fan of the series since the original.  So the two of us set off to play, and I was actually having a good time with the game.  The chat (through the Wii U’s gamepad) worked much better than I expected, and my friend very patiently explained the games quirks to me.  Things were going relatively smoothly. MH3GHD_WiiU_MultiPlay_009_bmp_jpgcopyWe soon added a third to our group who was a former co-worker of both of ours and was also a big fan of the series – another Wii U sold.  But the more we played, the more I started to feel like I just didn’t get something about the game.  I felt like there was a piece of the puzzle I was missing, and whatever it was the game wasn’t going to give it up willingly.  Then this past Saturday I logged on to play again, and our group was rounded out by a fourth member – someone the other guys had played with in games past.  In hindsight  I probably shouldn’t have logged on at all that night.  I had had a pretty bad headache almost all day, and it had been a long weekend.  But I decided to give it a shot anyway.  We went into a mission against not one, but two wyverns.  And we failed miserably.  Rather, *I* failed miserably – all three of the deaths that ended the mission were mine.  At this point, I told the guys I was going to call it a night because I really wasn’t up for it and turned in. One of my friends called me to make sure everything was ok (it was) and I voiced some of my lingering questions and frustrations about the game, which he tried to answer.  I turned in early that night but was woken up around 3:30 in the morning unable to sleep.  So I turned the game back on and decided to get in some single player to try and “catch up” with the other guys.  I played for maybe an hour and then went back to bed.  Got up, turned it back on & played more single player until around lunch.  My friend then called to see if I wanted to play online some that afternoon, so after I ate I joined them. mh3u-1During that single player time I invested and the missions we played online that afternoon, something just clicked.  I couldn’t possibly explain to you what it was, just as my friend couldn’t articulate the answers to my frustrations with the game the night before.  I cannot fully explain Monster Hunter to you.  It’s impossible.  I can break down the systems and tell you about the general flow of the game, but you will never truly understand it until you play it and the game decides to click with you.  Once it finally decides to let you in, you’ll be hooked. Monster Hunter still hates me.  But I finally see it for what it is.  I understand its rough edges, its various systems buried in one another like Russian nesting dolls.  It all makes sense to me now.  And I won’t be satisfied until I’ve fully mastered it.  I love Monster Hunter precisely because it doesn’t care that I do.

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