Review: Cabela's Hunting Expeditions shoots itself in the foot – twice
Hunting is a delicate sport, but it's also one that requires an utmost deal of patience. After all, the slightest noise can easily scare your prey off, and sometimes you're not so much of a crack shot that you think you are, unless you're one of those guys that litters his walls with stuffed animal trophies to prove otherwise.
With that, it doesn't always translate well into the video game form. Raw Thrills has gotten it right by stripping it to its most basic arcade nature for the Big Buck games, and I admit, Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2011 – a game that came out a couple of years ago, natch – wasn't bad.
But when Activision tries to focus too much on the hunting nature and doesn't imply any fun into the product, it drags on quicker than your camouflage wearing buddy's banter about the "nature of the beast". Cabela's Hunting Expedition goes too far in its "you must be the perfect hunter" logic, and, as a result, suffers throughout.
So, in the game, you'll move through a number of locations, whether on foot or through the glory of your noisy ATV (because that won't startle animals, right?), and set yourself up for some "trophy kills", in this case animals that are simply trying to enjoy what nature has to offer. And that's pretty much all the game is about – the dramatic elements that somewhat heightened Cabela's Survival and Dangerous Hunts aren't present.
But the main problem is that it's dull. Even hunting veterans will find the game's demands too overwhelming. For instance, if you move even remotely close to your target, in open field, you'll get your narrating buddy telling you that you should quiet down or find cover – so even when you're doing everything right, you're doing it wrong. And when you do manage to track your targets, one poorly timed shot – which is more often than not, in this case – can send them running, and you won't catch up to them. This game discourages way too often, never giving anyone a fair chance to actually get its gameplay nailed down. Or, for that matter, figure out the differences between rifles.
Aside from pacing, the game also suffers from inaccurate controls (particular with shooting), and provides you with a weird Predator-like hunter sense so you can see where animals are at. So it goes for realism and then awards you with something supernatural. Makes perfect sense. The gameplay never really gives you a break or changes over the course of each hunt, and there's hardly any extras worth unlocking, unless you really, really like hunting gear and saying, "Hey, I shot this!"
Cabela's Hunting Expeditions also gets no favors done in the presentation department. The graphics look like something from the previous generation, with poor environments, a clippy frame rate (it slows down way too often) and stunted animation. Your character looks like he's wearing three pairs of Depends underneath his pants. The audio is bad too, with terrible twangy guitar music and your hunting assistant who will not shut up. You almost wish you could turn your gun on him.
Cue another hunting failure for Activision with Cabela's Hunting Expeditions. It's not very rewarding, and is sometimes too life-like to be thoroughly enjoyable. If you have to play a hunting game, do yourself a favor and stick to the arcade. It doesn't cost as much and, hey, you just might have a good time.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]