Review by horror_spooky

"Did I ever tell you about the time when I killed two grizzly bears with my bare hands?"

Out of all the games in the world, Cabela's Big Game Hunter is the one that I thought had no chance of me enjoying it. I hate hunting in real life, so what would make me want to hunt in a video game? Well, to my surprise, Cabela's Big Game Hunter is actually sort of entertaining at times, and while it definitely isn't the next Gears of War or Fallout 3, it is good for a few hours of entertainment.

The main reason why Cabela's Big Game Hunter doesn't excel as much as it could is due to the pathetic mission structure. Every level you are tasked with finding some guy, killing two or three of a specific kind of animal, returning to that guy, heading to the next guy, playing a mini-game, earning a new weapon, kill a couple more things, and then finding the trophy animal of that level, killing it, running over to it, and taking a picture of it to complete the level. The monotony of this mission structure is rarely broken, and extended playing times can really fall into the realm of complete boredom, but luckily, there are some moments that help Cabela's Big Game Hunter somewhat stand out.

You will be surprised at what the game throws at you. Hell, you may even jump at some moments. To go along with these surprising moments, there are button press mini-games, or quick-time events, but I felt that they were over simplified, requiring the pressing of only the X and B buttons. Sometimes, like when wall climbing, you just tap the X and B button as they pop up on the screen. Other times, like balancing on a log over a raging river basin, you just tap the X button and the B button depending on what side you're leaning on.

The mini-games I mentioned earlier became pretty repetitive as well, and they only require you to shoot a few small game animals with whatever weapon you wish. The weapons you have available to you range from shotguns to pistols to rifles to crossbows, and you also have a few other useless items that are supposed to attract the animals to you.

This is another area where Cabela's gets shaky. The game tries to be realistic in some areas by only letting you shoot certain animals that you have tags for and only letting you use certain weapons against these animals. However, the animals just run around like chickens with their heads cut off, and if you fire at them, there is a good chance they will run right toward you or even run around in a circle.

Another main problem with the game is that there is just way too much walking, and too crappy a map system that requires you to constantly check it to see what direction you are heading in. Boredom happens again here in full force as you walk around boring locales going to your objectives. Why there is so much uneventful land to cover I have no idea, as it seems like a waste of the developer's time to even bother programming that much. On top of that, the level designs are very often horrendous to the point that you can barely get around to your objectives without a headache-inducing hassle.

For some reason or another, the developers tried to attach a story to this game, and while you can't blame them for the effort it honestly might as well be there. You play an extremely overzealous hunter whose life goal is to apparently become a hunting legend. Does it really matter at all? No, but it's there for those that are completely unable to enjoy a video game that doesn't have a plot attached to it.

Character animations are a little everywhere and don't synch up very well to the game. Facial models and character models in general are pretty bad, with the exception of the main character who is finely detailed. The animals and the environments generally look like they belong on the PlayStation 2 though the draw distance of far away (and major) areas are impressive. Smaller details are very poorly textured and the game suffers from a major amount of pop-in, about as bad as the kind found in Grand Theft Auto IV, which is just unacceptable for an action game like this that really doesn't do all that much. Hell, the game isn't even that long, so I really don't understand where there is this much pop-up. The level design is relatively bad, with an annoying amount of invisible walls blocking you in every which way and so much underbrush and vegetation that your vision is more than just obscured.

The soundtrack is practically nonexistent, except for the “exciting” moments, and it more or less gets the job done. That is, if the job is trying to be so obscure and pointless that the developers could have left it out for the same effect. The voice acting is overly dramatic, with the main character talking like he's Leon S. Kennedy or something. Also, when a pistol makes the same sound as a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, you can be sure that there are definitely some audio issues with this game.

Cabela's Big Game Hunter can be beaten in about four to five hours depending on how easily you are able to travel the maps, as that's where the real longevity is. The achievements are pretty damn easy to earn as well, and there is a very good chance that you will earn all of them in your first play through. You can play the game on higher difficulty settings, but there's not much point to it and there is an Instant Hunt mode available, which is nothing more than a level select, but the lack of achievements supporting these modes gives you pretty much no incentive to even attempt to use this feature.

I was surprised that I actually enjoyed Cabela's Big Game Hunter for a few hours. Just by the game's cover you can expect that you won't enjoy it, but I'm willing to bet that you will manage to squeeze a few hours of silly entertainment from the game. The graphics definitely could use an upgrade though and the entire audio experience needs reworked. The plot is there, but it doesn't need to be, and it would have been cool if the QTEs were a little more challenging. The mission structure is generally terrible and needs a complete makeover as well. Cabela's Big Game Hunter isn't going to win any awards, but it is still good for some enjoyment, and if you're ever curious about playing the game, I recommend at least giving it a rent.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 02/03/09

Game Release: Cabela's Big Game Hunter (US, 11/07/07)

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