- Publisher: Activision
- Developer: Fun Labs
- ESRB Rating: “T" for Teen
- Genre: Hunting
- Pros: Fun gameplay; lots of modes; gun customization; decent visuals
- Cons: Playing cameraman; good luck finding anyone online
The career mode has you traveling all across North America to film a TV hunting show. You'll hunt birds, shoot varmints, and then take down the big game animals like deer, elk, or moose and it all culminates with a pretty awesome bear hunt. Not only do you play the hunter, however, but also the cameraman for the big game kill shot. Then, when you're done with your hunts, you get to watch a preview of the episode you just filmed. Pretty cool. The levels alternate between scripted TV show shoots where you have to do things in a certain order and more open levels where you can explore an area and hunt however you want.
For most hunting games, the feature list would end there. Not this time. In addition to the career, there are also Big Trophy Tournaments where you select a species to hunt and then are dumped in a large open level and tasked with finding the biggest and most impressive animal. There are several species with multiple maps for each. The Hunters Challenge mode is an on-rails arcade shooter where you are automatically moved through an area and move a cursor around the screen to shoot animals and power-ups for points. The Prairie Dog Challenge is an arcade mode where prairie dogs pop out of their holes and you have to shoot specific ones to earn points.
Another neat aspect of the game is that as you play through the career you unlock new parts to customize your guns with. These parts change the power, rate of fire, maneuverability, and other things to tweak how you hunt.
The actual gameplay is just absolutely spot-on. It hits the sweet spot of pointing you in the right direction just enough without holding your hand through every step of a hunt. Sure, you have to follow a script during the TV show shoots, but pretty much everything else in the game offers a great amount of freedom. The pace of the game is also very nice, and you never feel like you are moving too slow. Heck, you can even click in the left stick and sprint around COD-style. The shooting is also well done as you hold the left trigger to bring up the sights or look through the cope, click the right stick to go into slo-mo / reveal the target's vital points, and then pull the right trigger to shoot. The game just plain feels right, which is something most hunting games miss the mark on.
Cabela's North American Adventures is a nice looking game all in all. There are some flat textures and foliage and rocks tend to pop in a few feet in front of you (kind of like Oblivion), but the game overall looks nice. The environments are believable and the animals look nice and have mostly good animation. I also like the main menu screen which has animals moving in the background, but you can press the X button to call them closer. Not a big deal, but a nice touch.
The sound is also fairly good. The TV show you shoot in career has theme music and an announcer, and the banter between your hunter and the camera man is definitely believable. The sounds while you are out hunting are also fairly well done. You hear birds chirping and taking flight when you get too close, animals calling, and sticks breaking under your feet.
Cabela's North American Adventures is pretty easily the best hunting game available on the Xbox 360. It manages to have a ton of surprisingly varied and fun features and modes, solid gameplay, and nice presentation. It is a complete package in a genre where most games give you are 3-hour long career and not much else. There is actually a lot to do here, and that paired with the overall high quality of the gameplay make it a pretty easy game to recommend. If you like hunting games, Cabela's North American Adventures is easily one of the best you'll find on consoles and is definitely worth at least a rental if not a purchase.