It’s about time for another wave of games from the annual Cabela camp in which players venture into the wilderness to strategically hunt and capture big game – or simply obliterate them. While some may opt for the former with the franchise’s more realistic hunting simulation series with Hunting Expeditions, those seeking more immediate thrills for their trigger-happy fingers will probably enjoy themselves more with this year’s update in Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2013.
Some may criticize Activison for pumping out sequels, year after year, but at least the premise is always interesting. In this year’s update you’ll start out as a young hunter along with his brother and father on a fateful expedition, leading to some events that break the shaky bond between the siblings and leaves them estranged. After 10 years of turmoil, another chance outing brings the brothers together again. Not only for the passion of the prize, but to also try and reunite in the biggest hunt of their lives. The dramatic synopsis is but a precursor for what’s to follow next as you, the hunter, becomes the hunted (pun intended).
The main campaign feels more like a horror-survival mode that places you in the middle of nowhere, knocking you – and by extension humanity – down a peg in the food chain as you traverse through forest and brush while predators stalk and finally surround you. You’ll know an attack is imminent as the music changes and scary figures dart across the screen. It’s almost cliché with elements borrowed from other titles such as Call of Duty and Medal of Honor, only this time you’ll be holding off packs of wolves and lions through context-sensitive moves, slow-motion targeting that detects vital points, or simply picking off the leader to make the others instantly scramble away. Again, those looking for immediate thrills should feel right at home in this harsh 6-8 hour long wilderness of terror.
If you do get tired of these tenser moments Dangerous Hunts 2013 follows the formula of providing other extras such as an Arcade Mode that’s still a laughably ludicrous foray into blasting entire herds and flocks of prey for the highest score. Frankly I’m still amazed and entertained at how absurdly large groups of animals are forever willing to run into your indiscriminate crosshairs. Another mode that is unique but somewhat similar to the main game is Maneater Mode, which can be played alone or co-op with a split screen as you (and a friend if available) fend off endless hordes of animals with only brief respites in between the rounds. It’s basically a survival mode that rewards your skill and/or luck with new levels and weapons.
When you compare this title with other higher-profile games out there, the only real standout thing about this one is the optional Top Shot Fearmaster rifle, an updated Top Shot Elite of sorts equipped with two chrome-painted sensors and a infrared camera that actively monitors your heart rate when playing. This in turn turn determines your focus, hand stability, and importantly shot accuracy while encountering many of the game’s more ferocious, fear-inducing creatures.
While it’s a nice touch to include responsive feedback in a game like this, using the Fearmaster properly was a daunting exercise at first, simply because you pretty much have to be calm in order to make a straight shot with it. A clear mind along with slow and practiced breathing methods are some of the things needed if you want to use this plastic rifle without a hitch. For many people (myself included), it’s hard to really enjoy this peripheral because of the physical requirements (controlled heart rate, breathing methods) needed to fully appreciate it; f you don’t keep things steady you’ll have a hard time with the Fearmaster. Let’s not forget that additional, but flaky sensor bar on your entertainment stand, as it should look great along with the various Sensor Bar, Kinect and PlayStation Move clutter that you may or may not use anymore.
For those Cabela fans wanting a change from the foresting norm of the series’ tamer efforts, you’ll probably enjoy Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2013, especially if decimating endless hordes of animals is what you’re after. It’s a decent experience if you willingly go along with it’s efforts to instill fear and drama into your heart, though this sensory-innovation does come with its drawbacks – namely consistent gameplay. At least the developers did try something original with the heart rate-monitoring Fearmaster rifle, even if it remains more of a novelty than gameplay-enhancing option. Fortunately for those enthusiasts it should compliment the many other Cabela-related plastic weaponry, including the Top Shot Elite, already sitting in your peripheral cabinet.
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