Fun Labs
Activision
Shooting
1
09.12.03

Cabela's Deer Hunt 2004 Season


The last time I played a deer hunting game was many years ago on the PC, and I must say that this game is one hundred times better! The first one I played wasn't even in full 3D, and it sure as heck didn't have vehicles! I'm not even a die hard hunting fan, but this game gives the general gamer a good idea of what hunting is all about. Deer Hunt 2004 will take you to real hunting places throughout North America.

Gameplay

The gear to select consists of firearms, accessories, equipment, and clothing. Before you go out hunting, you have different guns & accessories to put into your backpack. It's like a Rainbow 6 or a Ghost Recon; you must plan everything out before you start your mission. If you don't have the patience to go through the setup, there's an option that will auto setup everything for you.

When you are finally set up into a game and you have all your gear, the hunting begins. The first thing to look for is transparent orange dots around the screen. This is where the deer are. It's a real good thing that they included this feature in the game, because finding the deer to shoot at is hard enough. I walked around for a good 20 minutes before I realized that those were deer markers. There are three meters for your player's health and they are: condition, nutrition, and hydration. You must keep these up by bringing the right materials and supplies in your backpack.

This game is all about patience. You cannot simple run around and shoot; you have to walk carefully up on your prey. Once you shoot a deer, they will either be wounded or fatally wounded. From there you have to walk over and claim your kill. You can however, set in the options to do an automatic claim. There are a lot of tools to choose from. You have a map (GPS), an automatic tracking system, binoculars, spotting scope, antlers that make noise, scent cover, grunt call, and many others. You can even set up a deer feeder.

One realistic thing about this game is if you choose winter clothes for a summer day, your character is not going to be able to run for a very long time. It happens with the right clothes on too, it seems that it doesn't happen as fast. If you pack too much in your backpack, your character will also run out of stamina quickly. One unrealistic thing about this game is that the water from the rivers and streams must be magic water, because when you walk in them, the water is silent. Another thing that's weird is that you can carry a large tripod stand with you, and when you want to use it, it will appear out of nowhere.

You can switch from first-person view to third-person on-the-fly by pressing Y at any time. If you see animal tracks you can press the B button for the automatic tracking feature. There are 12 different guns (rifles & pistols) and bows to choose from. The manual does a great job in describing each. There are 9 different deer types included in this game. This adds some variety, especially for the hunting fanatic. The aiming control isn't too hard, but it isn't that easy either. Each firearm has a little different variation on the aim. In other words, the bow and arrow is not going to be the same as the shotgun.

The one thing in this game that doesn't make any sense is when you fall, drown, or get injured. Your player will just stand there, and then a message something like "are you okay sir?" or "You have been found unconscious and rescued" will appear on the screen, and then you have to restart.

Once you get into the season mode, only one location is available, and the rest need to be unlocked. You can check out all your trophies by going to your log cabin. From there you can get info on all the types of deer you shot.

The actual controls are not that hard to get used to, however there will be times when you just want to aim and shoot, and it will be frustrating because the deer will be running away. If you click in the left thumbstick, you'll have the ability to sneak up on your prey. The drivable vehicles include, ATVs, Boats, Snowmobiles, and trucks. Each vehicle controls rather generically, with nothing deep or special.

Graphics

The developers did a real nice job in giving this game an "outdoor" feel. On a nice summer day, the sky is beautiful-looking and the clouds look great. The trees, bushes, waterways, bridges, cat-tails (punks) down by the river, all play a major part in making the graphics real-life looking. Some textures on the trees are noticeably flat. The weather effects are very good, especially the lightening and rain. A nice, sunny, autumn day can quickly turn into a thunderstorm. The overall outdoor environments probably don't use all of Xbox's hardware power, but nonetheless are pleasing to the eye. You can choose to be a male or a female hunter, and they look like real people. How do the animals look? The deer look like deer. I can't say much about the graphics of the deer since you don't see them up close much (only after you kill them). There are even rabbits hopping around, and they look very life-like to say the least.

Sound

The only music in this game is the tunes on the menus. There is no in-game soundtrack or anything, just quietness. The sound effects are surprisingly good, and are very important for a game like this.

Replay

While this is an Xbox Live title, there is no actual live playing. It's just simply a place to post your high scores. Then again, how would they make a hunting game online? One person is the hunter while the other one is the deer? Or what about if there is a group of 8 LIVE users that just went out to a field? By the time you would find a deer, someone would already have scared them away, and I bet you it would turn in to a hunter's deathmatch. So there is no reason that I see to bring this game fully on Xbox Live. The replay value of this title can be high if you want to compete with other people in terms of your score, because you can post your scores.

Bottom Line:

You're going to get frustrated, but that is the way it's supposed to be. Timing and patience are very much needed for this game. Sometimes you'll wish that you just had a machine gun to mow these animals down. For the value price that it's at, it's well worth it if you are up for the adventure and/or into the hunting scene.

-Steve Melanson




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