Monster Hunter started as one of those franchises that was only really known by and cared about by a select group of people. It's high level of difficulty and general lack of user friendly...well, anything made it kind of a cult thing. When Monster Hunter 3 Tri came out for Wii, it changed a little, and became quite popular. This is because Tri was very newbie friendly, and tried to help people learn the ins and outs. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is a remake on Tri, which includes new weapons, monsters, quests, and is even more newbie friendly than ever.
The premise of Monster Hunter is not to save a universe, or to find 12 crystal shards. You are a monster hunter, and you do what your title implies. By taking down monsters, which consist of everything from bear like creatures, to dragons and what are basically dinosaurs, you can harvest their spoils. With these, you can forge better weapons and armor, and then hunt down bigger prey. Keep in my that when I say "bigger prey", I'm far from exaggerating. Eventually you'll be taking down house some real behemoths, and while none of them quite compare with Shadow of the Colossus, as an example, they are menacing nonetheless.
Ultimate makes a few changes other than the added weapons and creatures. Some of the quests have been rearranged, or replaced with easier versions of themselves to help ease new players int the experience. Ultimate can also be played with either a Wii U Gamepad, a Wii U Pro Controller or even Wii Classic controllers. I stuck with the Gamepad, and had no problems at all. When using the Gamepad, you can move any on screen information to the Gamepad screen instead. This clears up your HUD, and while it's no big deal, it was a nice touch. I elected to hand my health and stamina information on screen, but put my map and item pouch on the touchscreen. Monster Hunter has always been about customization, and that's as true as ever with these features.
Ultimate's new features don't stop with the touch screen. Using the integrated mic on the Gamepad, you can now voice chat will your fellow hunters during online play. The original used its own servers separate from Nintendo's, which allowed for shorter friend codes and use of text chat with others who weren't on your friends list. This time they've taken it one step further with the use of the mic. Here's hoping voice chat becomes a Wii U commonality. Graphically, the game certainly looks much better, but it's not what it could be. Player character models have been updated, but not much, and the smaller monsters have basically just been upscaled. The real graphical changes come into play with the hulking mega monsters, which look positively stunning. There are many textures that weren't even touched and don't cope well with HD. The most notable of these is the surface of deep water. The graphical imbalance is far from enough to bring the giant down, but it's disappointing that the Wii U's full power wasn't taken advantage of.
Gameplay in MH will take a lot of getting used to if you're a newcomer. at first, the controls will feel stiff and awkward, but you'll soon adjust. This is a game that outright demands patience. As much as you may want to dive in and rip out dragons' vocal chords, it doesn't quite work that way and you'll have to spend several hours not only working your way up the ranks, but also forging equipment decent enough to fight such beasts. There's a lot more to the game than just hunting, and there are hundreds of items to collect and forge with. You can also make armor out of just about every creature in the game, and that's quite interesting.
If you have the 3DS version of the game as well, your file can be transferred between systems. Also, if you have friendss with the 3DS version, they can sync up with your Wii U and play co-op without the need for an internet connection. Likewise, you can transfer your info to your 3DS, take it to your friend's house, and co-op with him. It's a really neat feature, but I think most people are just going to get 1 version or the other. Only the most hardcore fans out there are going to spend $110 just to play offline co-op.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is addictive, and extremely challenging. It Isn't the display of graphical prowess that I expected it to be, and it's very disappointing that they didn't do more with the visuals. That said, the game looks fine regardless, even if it isn't the best looking game on the Wii U. ultimate successfully refined Monster Hunter's intimidating formula, and made new strides in both it's own multiplayer as well as multiplayer as a whole on Nintendo's wifi network. If you've got the time, the patience, and the will to endure an ass-whooping, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate might be for you.