Friday, March 19, 2010

Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2009

Let me preface this review by saying that I have no ethical problem with hunting, but don't participate in the hobby myself. Again, it's not that I think shooting a deer is morally wrong, but because it seems really dull to me. It mostly seems like sitting around in the woods waiting for the off chance that a deer will walk by...not the most stimulating activity for me.

Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2009 isn't like that at all. Rather, the game portrays a version of hunting that I'm guessing most people who engage in the hobby would like to imagine. CDH 2009 exists in a fantasy world where heroic hunters take down entire packs of wild hyenas with practiced ease, save innocent victims from lion attacks, and fight grizzly bears with their bare (see what I did there?) hands. In other words, it's a bunch of bullshit. But then, so is space marines fighting aliens on a faraway planet, so there's no reason that should be a deal breaker.

Gameplay primarily consists of walking around a small area within some exotic locale while completing objectives that lead up to hunting and killing a dangerous animal of some kind. Over the course of the campaign, I killed some lions in Tanzania, wolves in Russia, and water buffalo (these are apparently quite dangerous) in Congo, just to name a few. It all sounds pretty advanced, until you realize that all the animals within a specific size class act pretty much the same. So for example, wolves and hyenas have the exact same attack patterns and behaviors, so only the graphic of the animal is changed.

The designers also eliminated the boring "wait for an animal to show up" part of hunting and skipped straight to the action. Most of the animals you're hunting are conveniently marked on your map, and the ones that aren't can be coaxed out with bait (instantly). It may not be realistic, but I certainly appreciate not having to wait!

However, there isn't really much game here. The core experience is really shallow, and within the first couple missions you'll have experienced just about everything there is to see (although a river ride through the Congo added something fresh). There are also some weird aspects to the game, like the snakes that never move from their position (they reminded me of hissing, poisonous land mines) or the elephants that will chase you for miles through thick underbrush. Oh, and the game is riddled with quick-time events (yuck!) to give the illusion of action when you're just playing a really easy game of Simon Says.

I mentioned in this week's WAA that I might be turning into a graphics snob, so take the next comment with a grain of salt - this game is BUTT UGLY. I realize the designers probably weren't working with a huge budget, but this was a sub-par effort by any standards. The environments are grainy and pixelated, while the animations of your prey are downright comical. It's a major waste, because one of the few ways they could have made this a more compelling experience is to treat it like a travelogue (kill exotic beasts in faraway lands!) but they couldn't even get that right.

I just can't recommend this game to anyone, not even hunting enthusiasts. The designers purposely made it very dissimilar to actual hunting, putting an emphasis on action that the gameplay couldn't really sustain. With the huge number of great shooters available for the 360, there's really no need to waste time with this ugly, dull effort.

1 comment:

  1. I love your description of this game as "a fantasy world where heroic hunters . . .", but I would argue that space marines are currently fighting aliens on a faraway planet, we just don't know about it yet. Also loved the lions, tigers and bears gag!