Despite not being too popular with normal gamers, hunting games sell like gangbusters. Just goes to show hardcore gamers don’t have nearly the power or influence they think they do. Activision’s latest hunting game is Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2010. This entry aims for a more arcade feel with a puzzle/high score element added to the gameplay instead of being a realistic simulation. How does it play? Find out all the details in our full review.
- Publisher: Activision
- Developer: Cauldron
- ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
- Genre: Hunting
- Pros: Decent graphics; addictive high score gameplay
- Cons: Poor sound; too easy and linear; few modes
In Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2010, you play as a hunter named Jack Wilde who is trying to earn his way into an elite hunting club called The Royal Ancient Order of Orion. To gain entry, Jack has to travel across the globe and kill anything that stands in his way.
The career mode moves forward in a linear fashion where you travel from place to place, complete hunts, and earn experience points that unlock the next location. You can rush through each of the 12 locations and beat them in less than 10 minutes each, but you don’t earn much XP this way and might not have enough to open up the last few levels and you’ll have to replay some missions to earn more. All told, you can beat the game in about 3 hours, but to earn all of the achievements (including earning gold medals on every mission and finding every animal sign in the game) will take quite a bit longer.
Unfortunately, outside of the career mode and being able to replay missions, there isn’t anything else to do in BGH2010.
The gameplay does a little bit to distract you from the lack of modes thanks to a decidedly arcade feel and an addictive, “gotta try it one more time” high-score based layout. Each hunt you go on is laid out sort of like a puzzle. There are cover points which give you XP and score boosts and your score goes up depending on where you shoot the animal, how far away you are, and what type of weapon you use. The idea is that you sneak from cover to cover and get as close as possible to your target animal, but you have to navigate around water or loud sticks that alert the animals and scare them off. You have to weigh getting a few feet closer for some extra points against possibly scaring the animal. This makes the game somewhat addictive as there are lots of ways to improve your high score that keeps you coming back for more.
At least, that is how it is supposed to work. The levels are completely linear and occasionally the target animals are within a hundred yards of where you start, so there isn’t really any tracking or any real hunting know-how required. Likewise, the animal A.I. leaves a lot to be desired and you can come within a few feet of them so long as you are “sneaking” in the crouched position. The animals are always in the same places in each mission, so it is easy to memorize the right moves and get a high score after only a couple of tries. The game is just too easy and linear to be all that fun. Since you don’t have to actually track anything or use real hunting skills, it isn’t all that satisfying either.
Along with the normal deer, elk, big horn sheep, and bird species you get to hunt, there are also some sequences where you are tracking (or are trapped by) a predator. These sequences sort of give you a thrill, but they’d be better if they behaved like the normal animals. With normal animals you get to see their vital organs when you target them so you can kill them in one shot. With predator animals you can’t see this, and they’re usually rushing you anyway so you can’t take precise shots, so you end up just plugging away with your shotgun until the bear or mountain lion or whatever is dead. Not fun.
Graphically, Big Game Hunter 2010 isn’t bad looking. The lighting is decent and the environments are nicely detailed and look pretty good. The animals look okay and have passable animation. The bar for graphics in outdoorsy games isn’t high, though, and BGH2010 looks pretty good compared to other titles in the genre.
The sound also lives up to the low standards of the genre. You don’t hear much beyond the echoing thuds of your own footsteps and the crack of the rifle, so not much to say here.
Ultimately, Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2010 is a disappointment. The arcade-style gameplay is okay, but very easy and linear and there isn’t much content to keep you coming back. Also, the hunting itself just plain isn’t as interesting or satisfying as in more sim-based hunting games. The recently released Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures is a far better hunting game, for example. In the end, you’re left with a short, easy, unsatisfying experience that is hard to recommend. It does have some nice, easy achievements, but a rental will take care of those.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy