Name:

 Cabela's Big Game Hunter: Pro Hunts

Platforms:

PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360

Developer:

 Cauldron Ltd

Genre:

 FPS, Sport, Simulation

Publisher:

 Activision

Modes:

 Single-player

Release Date:

 March 25th, 2014

Engine:

 

Reviewer:

Charede

Product Rating:

 PEGI: 16, Violence

Review Score:

72/100 (72%)

Disclosure:

 Copy Reviewed: PC, personally bought.

Timing: Post release.

 

I consider myself an animal lover given that I have been horse riding since I was four and owned several pets. I stumbled across this game as a result of watching two of my live streamer friends at GameOn play it. I thus decided to play it myself and decide if this game is on target or a total miss.

 

The hunters featured are rather stereotyped and get irritating at times but do a good job of tutorializing key gameplay elements. The trailer as you start is aimed at showing off its' vast environments and animals to lure you in. When starting the game, you have the choice of several key gameplay options. The most important of which is the physics realism for sniping. If you are not a seasoned sniping game player, I would recommend that you start with the lower setting. Learning the full sniper mechanics plus how to hunt can be demanding and frustrating at first. I applaud the inclusion of the full realism mode. This extends the life of the game substantially and provides the challenge often lacking in recent games. Overall the lifespan of the game is not terrible but could be much better. Although some hunts are repeatable many are not which can be frustrating.

 

The game offers a total of four regions set in the USA, each of which is home to its own unique plethora of hunts. The game starts with several easy deer and boar hunts to ease you in. This provides time to gain familiarity with mechanics and obtain basic hunting equipment. The game does this in a logical manner not overloading the player right from the get go which is great to see. The difficulty curve ramps up steadily with hunting of small game such as pheasants and rabbits up to ferocious bears. Animal diversity makes the game far more entertaining. You will hunt different animals in the different regions which help prevent things getting stale. Animal behaviour is well emulated and forces the player to use different strategies and equipment. Observing animal behaviour as you executed your plan will help determine if you have been spotted. This adds extra realism to the experience as well as a form of direct feedback to the player. This aids sucking the player into the moment and results in the urge to take greater care with your actions. Patience is a must if you want to succeed in this game!

 

The game features a nifty points system. Points unlock new weapons, gear and more difficult hunts. I found myself gawping at the next gun or upgrade and was a driving force to you to perfect hunting methods. The equipment options are quite substantial. Not only for gun modifications such as sights and ammo types but also accessories. The accessories enable you to bring along lures for specific species and scent masks. The equipment in this category has purpose and logic for a hunter to carry. The downside is you will have to spend points to get these items, and it can become a heavy drain on your points. Over time the advantage you get is well worth the extra hunts needed. Thankfully hunts can be repeated. What is clear is accessories were not just added for the sake of padding out the game and a faffy distraction. These items have a genuine effect and an important influence on crucial game mechanics.

 

To purchase all the high tech equipment, you will, of course, need to earn these points as mentioned earlier by hunting. The game has an intelligent scoring system based on how clean and accurate you execute your kills. Bonuses are awarded for hitting vital areas such as the spine, lungs, heart and brain. In contrast making a sloppy kill by hitting organs such as the stomach will lose you points. This encourages the player to learn, observe, wait and selectively take a shot. This aids entering a hunter mindset and encourages hunting ethics with more points for clean kills. Besides failing to make a clean kill will result in having to track animal blood to find the body after it runs away which is a tedious task. Once the kill is recovered you not only get points but a lovely trophy which can be viewed at your leisure in the trophy collection.

 

Before you can make a shot, you must navigate perilous cliff faces and other environmental hazards. Locate and stalk your prey with care while avoiding aggressive animals such as bears. If unlucky, you may find yourself running from more passive animals such as deer and moose which can charge. This presents you with a few daunting heart racing seconds to run or stand your ground. High-pressure situations like these will keep you on the edge of your seat and test even skilled marksmen.

 

The most entertaining feature of the game is the detailed slow motion x-ray bullet time. This feature is Sniper Elite in feel and enriches the game with instant feedback and gratification for the player. The visual information helps the player with aim and method of execution as well as a sense of reward. The bullet time is versatile with a great level of detail and information it can depict for each shot. Detailed charts show bullet physics in sync with watching the shot itself take place. The game makes it nothing less than satisfying when you pull off a tricky shot or hit a vital organ.

 

Up to this point, I have been positive about the game, and rightly so it has been an enjoyable experience. The game does have some clear areas for improvement. I would be keen to see a greater range of diversity in the animal animations. Over time the animals feel repetitive. This was due to overuse of certain animations for example when showing an animal is suspicious. It would have been nice to see a greater range of them implemented, so it had a larger pool to select from to respond to the player's actions. Another glaring issue was texture quality.  The animals and bullet time were good, but everything else was inferior visually. Environments were not quite up to standard but acceptable. The worst example of texture quality was on the hunters. The texture quality made them feel out of place and was disappointing given I was playing this on PC.

 

Unlike previous Cabela games, this is far more simulation and less arcade. I feel it is a major step in the right direction for the series. Serious hunting simulators are lacking and ones that can perform as well as this are even fewer. The deep mechanics and well-modelled animals make for a good experience. If you have the patience or a fan of sniping games, then I am sure this game will not disappoint. The game is polished to a reasonable standard with only a few minor bugs I observed. I am sure future games in the series could resolve these minor issues and improve on graphical fidelity. This game won't be to everyone's taste but it is refreshing to see and an enjoyable experience as a whole. I'm looking forward a future iteration provided they follow the more simulation style formula. I am scoring this game as 72%. A solid experience but some clear room for improvement.

 

 

 

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