Reviewer’s Rating: ★
Here’s a question for you: With seemingly two-thirds of modern console games focused squarely on shooting things, why hasn’t someone made a good hunting game? For whatever reason, shooting other human beings has been a much more successful formula for game companies, and hunting games have developed a reputation for being bargain bin snorefests. “Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2012” falls right into that trap.
Of all the genres in the world, hunting seems like it would benefit the least from a storyline. Yet players may be pleasantly surprised to find that “Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2012” features an excuse for all the carnage. In this game, you play as an elite hunter invited to participate in a big game hunting competition. The person that bags the biggest prey wins. There’s nothing more to it than that, but at least the game doesn’t drop the player in the woods with no explanation at all.
Forget “Halo,” and “Call of Duty.” This game is all about sneaking up on deer, bighorn sheep, and other big game and taking them down with one well-placed shot. Don’t expect an inkling of the realism featured in other hunting games though. The player can hold his breath to access a slow motion mode, which also allows them to see the vital organs of the animals they’re targeting. The mechanic is fun, but last time I checked holding my breath didn’t grant me any superpowers other than lightheadedness. The player is also equipped with a wristband that flashes red when they’ve been spotted by an animal. It’s used as a warning to get the player to hide behind a rock or bush before the prey gets spooked and runs. Fortunately, the game doesn’t even attempt to explain how that little piece of technology works. Lastly, prey leaves behind glowing, floating footprint icons. This essentially eliminates tracking prey from a game about hunting, which is a bit like taking feet out of soccer.
I came into the game hoping for an immersive experience of slowly creeping through a massive, open-ended environment, and came out feeling like I had my hand held by a GPS the whole time. The game devolves into a boring carousel of “go here and shoot the critter” with little thought involved. Because of this, a second playthrough is about as enticing as rotten rabbit meat.
The game is moderately fun while it lasts, which is a meager five hours. Messing around with the mini games (a collection of shooting galleries) and collecting all the trophies or achievements will only take around seven hours. “Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2012” is also so easy that it feels like all the animals that step into your crosshairs have a death wish. It’s like they know they’re in an awful game and just want the pain to end.
Not even die hard hunting aficionados who sleep with shotguns under their pillows will get enough bang for their buck to warrant a purchase, but it makes for a serviceable rental for those scant few of the gaming population who would rather shoot animals instead of their fellow human beings.