Today I spent some time with my psychotic father hunting deranged animals all over the world.
That is to say, what the hell did I just play?
I had seen them in stores quite a bit, and there is no shortage of them, so I had wondered for quite some time just what these Cabela’s games had to offer. I remembered the older arcade games where you would shoot at animals as they ran across your path, but couldn’t imagine that concept had been packaged onto a disc and sold at original MSRP for $60. Though the presence of a gun accessory made it seem possible.
I certainly didn’t expect what I got. A couple of weeks ago I came across a copy of Dangerous Hunts 2011 for $3, on clearance, at a Half Price Books. I figured that for $3 it might finally be time to try one of these games out. While I probably got $3 worth of laughs out of the seriously awkward story mode, I can’t imagine what people who paid full price felt like.
The game’s main story, yes there is a story, starts with you going on a right of passage hunt with your redneck/mountain man/Unabomber aspiring father and eager younger brother. After landing a ten point buck you fend off a wild cougar attack and then go to kill your first of many cougars in the game. Then you hunt a bear. Then like twenty years later you go to Africa to hunt some mysterious animal that scarred your father in the 1980’s and yet is still somehow alive, while killing what seems like hundred of leopards and lions along the way.
We need to pause for a moment and point out that Cabela’s seems to really hate big cats. Lets just put that out there. On top of that, not only are these cats incredibly violent in the game (they attack in swarms, unprovoked and in one level attack you in spite of the fact that there is a raging fire only a few feet away), normally solitary cats also show up in prides here as well (I’ve seen enough nature documentaries to know that you don’t encounter a dozen mountain lions all within twenty feet). Not to mention that even relatively intelligent animals in the game, such as wolves, will continue to charge at you even if severely injured. I know it is a video game, but I was surprised at how unrealistic it was none-the-less.
The game’s controls are also awkward. Since the game was more or less designed to be played with the Top Shot Elite peripheral, there is no visual presence of your character on the screen (i.e. you can’t see a gun). Instead you see only a cross hair, which I found I had to seriously up the sensitivity on when playing with a controller. The lack of a visual cue also makes it easy to not realize what gun you have equipped as well. The end result is that the combat can be kind of fun but it is far from being “tight.”
Combat in general mostly consist of running backwards away from a charging animal (or group of animals). In this, Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 is guilty of one of my least favorite styles of combat in an FPS. “Hunter’s vision” helps to highlight targets, and by helps I mean it makes the screen black and white with animals bright white when in “classic mode”) so you can get the jump on them, but in any of the game’s many ambush moments it makes no difference. Top it off with the fact that your gun won’t automatically reload when you run out of amo and it is easy to get overwhelmed. The real issue though is that the controls are lacking enough precision that often you simply miss your shot as a result.
Combat really isn’t what you take away from the game though. The part of Cabella’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 that sticks with you is the ridiculous story that climaxes in Africa, after you have become one of the world’s foremost hunters (how does one do that anyway?). Here you will fend off baboons, snakes (so many snakes), rhinos and of course some sort of mutant hyena hybrid that is pushing thirty some years old apparently.
Also, the game no longer saves properly if you are connected to Xbox Live, requiring you to start over if you play the game at all when connected. Simply staying offline fixes the problem, though it is annoying.
There is a sort of addictive quality to the game that helps to explain why the series has managed to last and continue pumping out titles. The ambush moments can, and often do get your heart pumping (much in the same way an ambush moment in Dead Space does), only this feels like an incredibly cheap way to get a rise out of the gamer most of the time. If you haven’t tried the series, go for it, but do so on the cheap as it only takes a couple of hours to beat the game and it is mostly memorable for how awkwardly weird it is.
Tomorrow I shall venture forth to Centipede: Infestation for Nintendo 3DS!
Final Rating: 4.5/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Time to completion: Approximately 4 hours
Gamer Score Earned: 550/1000
Price Bought at: $3
Current Price: $17.79 (Amazon)
Recommend Purchase Price: Probably around $5 for stand-alone game.
Why you should buy it: You really hate mountain lions.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: Science Channel is doing a FireFly Marathon and you don’t want to miss it for this.