Hunting games are fairly niche games that have a certain type of fan and the name Cabelaís is well known among that same very crowd. Activision brings us the next installment of its Cabelaís hunting series and introduces us to the all new Top Shot Elite Gun Controller. Forget everything you know about the Cabelaís series up to this point because Dangerous Hunts has taken the franchise to a whole new level. Now of course, you can buy the stand alone game, but in all honesty youíll be missing out on a great experience if you pass up the Top Shot Elite Gun Controller.
So for $49.99 you can purchase the game stand alone and use the 360 controller as you always have in the past Cabelaís Games. You also have the option for $79.99 to purchase the game with the new wireless Top Shot Elite Gun Controller. I have to say the gun bundle will give you such a greater experience playing the game and Iíll get into this more throughout the review.
Graphically, Dangerous Hunts 2011 has to be the most visually appealing out of all the hunting titles. The animals look as vicious and as real as ever while the environments are solid and truly capture the essence of the local terrain and weather. Not only will you be scampering around the woods in the daylight but there will be moments when youíll be trudging through the woods and snow in complete darkness only lit by the moon. Yes, I know you canít hunt at night but you can defend yourself at night if needed and youíll definitely be doing that from time to time.
The audio in this game is absolutely fantastic. In all essence there were moments when I felt like I was playing Alan Wake with the eerie sounds and all. Youíll feel every adrenaline moment as you walk through the woods knowing that around the next bend could be the end of your life at the mercy of some vicious mountain lion or timber wolf. Howling wolves, frightened flocks of crows and more fill the woods around you with a sense of urgency and youíll always have to be on your toes. The voice acting isnít the greatest in the world but it does get the job done and tells quite a story.
We reviewed the game with the new Top Shot Elite controller and I have to say right off the bat that there is no other way you should be playing this game. The controller works surprisingly well and is extremely accurate. The controller itself actually has a great button layout along with stick placement which makes everything feel natural. The gun has a pump which allows you to reload and this comes is quite handy when in the middle of a heated battle with some vicious beast. Mounted on the rifle is a red lens scope that can be used in conjunction with your hunting sense for spotting possible danger or even tracks and equipment. Youíll have a sensor to place by your television which will pick up all your actions with the gun. I found it best to put the sensor on top of the television for the best and most accurate results. I canít stress enough how much fun the game is to play with the actual gun rather than the standard 360 controller.
So, Cabelaís Dangerous Hunts 2011 offers up two modes of play to choose from. There is a complete story mode which offers a very interesting approach on the hunting genre than has ever been done before. The recent Cabelaís North American Adventures had a unique way of presenting the game with the all new cameraman angle they took which created somewhat of a storyline, but in Dangerous Hunts youíll actually play the game as the kid brother of a hunting family. The story moves you along as you gain the respect of your family and your own father while coming of age. As the story progresses youíll encounter plenty of dangerous animals that will stop at nothing to end your life and youíll have to do whatever you can to survive every encounter. The story will take you and your in game family through North American regions as well as Africa and there are plenty of sharp toothed predators to take aim at. But remember they are also taking aim at you so be wary.
Now you could consider the story mode to be a very linear experience and almost a rail shooter at times it seemed. But the different encounters and the intensity of the encounters makes the game very enjoyable and not so much a monotonous experience. Youíll be able to find collectibles such as journals, marksman targets, ammo, health and more. There are also trophies to collect, tracks to locate and plenty of areas to explore even in a linear style of gameplay.
The second mode of play, Shooting Galleries, can be played as single player experiences or you can play against buddies in hot seat mode or all out versus via split screen. To unlock all the regions youíll have to either earn experience in the story mode or gather high scores in the galleries. Youíll get 3 types of shooting galleries to play: Classic, Survival and Trek. Each offers its own experience but the bottom line is scoring as high as you can. Youíll even be able to collect multipliers and power ups while playing in the shooting gallery mode to achieve the highest scores. I found this mode a lot of fun and a treat to play with buddies to compete for the highest scores.
To some the linear gameplay of Dangerous Hunts will be a bit of a turn off or a deterrent. But the variety of animals and the shooting galleries really make up for that in my opinion. The game does take some getting used to when using the Top Shot Elite, but the gun controller does make it all worth it in the end and is well worth the $40. It works well and is very responsive. The only real downside to the game is that itís a hunting game, which I love, but many folks donít. The experiences and the adrenaline rushing moments in the game definitely add up to some fun and exciting gameplay. The only real issue I had with the game was losing track of where I was or my objective at hand. While your objective is always displayed on screen itís not always clear which way you are to proceed through the woods.
At times the game can be frustrating especially with the checkpoint system. There were many instances in the game where I thought after some of the things I went through a checkpoint would have been warranted but alas I had to go through the same frustrating moment I just experienced. Over and over and over... While I can understand not making the game to easy Iíd also like a way out if the game is getting borderline frustrating. Those dang wolves kept killing me, over and over and over and over. Donít get me wrong though. Those same instances were thrilling and exciting and once I completed the section I felt completely relieved and actually felt like accomplished something.
Overall, virtual hunters will be excited with the offerings of Dangerous Hunts 2011 but this game isnít only for the virtual hunters. Unfortunately, past hunting games have really turned a lot of gamers away from the genre. Itís time to step back and give this genre a chance folks because Dangerous Hunts really is a fun game. Will it stand on its own two feet against games like Call of Duty and Halo? No, but I really donít think Activision expects that. The new controller should definitely spark some interested and honestly during some of the shooting galleries it was like playing Duck Hunt again, but without the taunting little dog. I thoroughly enjoyed myself with this game and recommend it to anyone that may enjoy Cabela games or had an interest in them in the past. But even if you arenít a hunter, you could still find plent of enjoyment in the game and itís never too technical in hunting terms to intimidate anyone. Check it out today and honestly, consider buying the bundle with the Top Shot Elite. Itís the best way to experience this game.