For many years, Cabela’s has been a name synonymous with hunting games. It’s the Madden of shooting animals, if you will. Year after year, Activision releases new entries in the series, each incrementally updating the game’s engine, graphics, and gameplay. Actually, it’s a bit like Madden in that regard, too. That said, the most recent entry in the series, Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011, might be the largest departure from the norm in many years, adding not only a gun peripheral, but an interesting, moody story to boot. Sadly, things never really come together, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that the developers were torn on whether they were making a hunting game or a survival horror.
For some time, the developers of the Cabela’s series have attempted to blur the line between a hunting game and shooting game. Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2010, the last entry in the series, was actually extremely successful in that regard, creating a game that could be accessible to the average Call of Duty fan without isolating those looking for a hunting game. In Dangerous Hunts, they, instead, try to make it more survival horror, with an emphasis put on the mood. In the single player campaign, there’s actually a fairly interesting story, following Cole Rainsford on a trek through different countries that occasionally dips into the supernatural.
Things start off fairly strong, but the campaign quickly becomes difficult and frustrating due to poor controls. Using the optional gun is an exercise in futility, as it requires a good deal of space between the television and the player. It claims that six-feet is enough, but it’s not until eight or ten before it actually becomes usable. Even then, it’s not actually that great of a controller, utilizing the same technology as the Wii does instead of functioning like a light-gun. In fact, it’s the same thing, the sensor is just a wireless version of the one that ships with the Wii and even works on Nintendo’s console. If you expect something like you’d find in the arcades, keep looking. Instead, you’re options are playing with the Move controller, which is only slightly better, or using the Dualshock controller. Sadly, this might be your best bet.
The majority of your time in Dangerous Hunts is spent running backwards and shooting. The gimmick of the series is that the prey is, more times than not, actually the predator, something that would work if the controls weren’t so sloppy. Not all the blame can be placed on the controller, though, as boss fights are flawed and unnecessarily long, with waves of lions for a full five-minutes.
There are other elements to the story that just don’t improve the game, and, instead, just slow things down. Smaller enemies act like traps during the campaign, and the player needs to take them out using “Hunter Vision,” which allows him to see enemies laying in wait. This means, on top of dealing with the poor controls and difficult gameplay, you need to spend half of the game in an unappealing view mode shooting enemies that don’t fight back until you’re two feet away.
Luckily, Shooting Galleries, a secondary game mode to the story, make everything more worthwhile, functioning exactly like what you would find in the arcade. It’s a score grind, sure, but for fans of Cabela’s it’s a worthwhile one. The control issues aren’t as detrimental since all you’re doing is aiming, and you don’t need to worry about being killed by a flock of birds. There’s multiplayer support, online leaderboards, and good fun to be had.
Needless to say, Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 is a disappointment. It’s in no way a bad game, especially once the Galleries are factored in, it’s just not, at all, a good one. There was potential, and the campaign’s story and mood are easily the best in any hunting game, but, in the end, it simply doesn’t hit its mark.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Shooting Galleries are fun
– Poor controls, and included gun peripheral isn’t worthwhile