Hunt with the pros.
Some things are inevitable, such as death and taxes, and of course the annual release of hunting games from Cabela. While we aren’t seeing the series make the new console leap just yet, the latest from developer Cauldron continues to expand on the series with its latest creation, Cabela’s Big Game Hunter: Pro Hunts. Available for a multitude of machines, the latest entry expands on the core concept and introduces celebrity hunting personalities. The end result is a solid hunting experience for those still invested.
Having a storyline woven into the mix is nothing new for the series; what is new though is the addition of professional hunters. The game begins by introducing players to the cast of characters, and then weaving them into a globe-hopping narrative. The names include Jim Shockey, Wade Middleton, and Vicki and Ralph Cianciarulo. While not household personalities, they definitely hold water in the hunting community. Sure the story isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it does a nice job of setting up each adventure as players work their way from small game to more dangerous prey as the story progresses.
The actual game play feels similar to past entries. Pro Hunts takes place from a first-person perspective, unlike some of the previous games’ third-person approach. All of the tricks are also here. Players will need to track animals, stay out of sight, and take advantage of the tools at their disposal. Tree stands give an elevated vantage point while the handy GPS lets players track areas where the best spots are located.
Once located, taking down animals becomes a game in itself. After choosing my location I would carefully plan my shot. Pro Hunts implements a unique shot mechanic that slows down the action to showcase where my bullet landed, including what organs it hit, as well as a host of other stats. A kill shot is extremely satisfying, but if I happened to miss or simply wound the animal, I could track it down by its blood trail to finish it off. It is a tense experience, and one of the best the series has offered to date.
The pro hunters also offer up their own mission types. These required me to use specific tools to hunt down animals, as well as other criteria. These missions offer up the biggest rewards for completing them, and also serve as the most challenging parts of the game. There are also regular hunts which consist of tracking down specific animals in determined locations. Finally, there are open hunts that deliver on their namesake. These dropped me into open areas and let me hunt whatever I wanted, however I wanted to hunt it. There is enough variety to keep any type of player interested.
Completing missions unlocks points to buy new gear, weapons, and accessories. Trophies for animals taken down can also be displayed for that penultimate hunting experience. The upgrade and collection system means going back to earlier missions with new equipment is more entertaining than it should be. Taking down a deer with a high-caliber bullet and a sniper scope is just unfair, but also somewhat satisfying.
Cabela’s Big Game Hunter: Pro Hunts is an interesting take on the series. The story is forgettable, but the inclusion of professional faces is definitely unique. The rest feels familiar and will suffice the fans that take the plunge each year. Those looking for the evolution of the series though will be disappointed.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.