Every year the hunting aficionados are treated to a game that is catered to them. Well this year, again with the association of Cabela’s, Activision has released the game Cabela’s North American Adventures. The game is (obviously) set in North America, and focuses around a tag team of you and your camera man going around to find big game to hunt across the continent. The game does a lot of things well, and definitely does justice to the sport, but I can’t help but crave a little bit more polish to make this game a more enjoyable experience.
The game is divided up into a few different modes, ranging from Career, to Big Game Tournament, to Shooting Galleries and Hunter Challenges. Each mode offers something different and entertaining, but the main mode that I was drawn to keep playing was Career. Here you find yourself going from location to location, setting up for the biggest hunts in that region. You have your camera-man in tow, and you are filming a TV show showcasing the best hunts that you have been on at the location. After each animal hunted, you are able to film the kill, and then the end of the episode will present a montage of all of these moments. In-between the main TV episodes, you will have ten minute hunt sessions where you are open to an area and have specific goals or a score to achieve in the time limit. The career mode, for what it’s worth is pretty robust but will not take you long to complete, but it is open to replayability to improve your score.
The other big mode in the game is Big Game Tournament. This mode gives you a time limit and a specific type of animal to hunt. After you find the animal, you need to shoot it and tag it within the time limit. If you are successful, you are able to hunt a bigger trophy the next time you select that type of animal. This is another well rounded mode with a lot to do, and is very pick up and play, as most of the hunts do not take long.
The other modes offered are very arcade like, with Hunter’s Challenge being played with one or two people. You don’t actively control your character, but rather just have a cursor to shoot down big game and small game, and have to switch between weapons, to earn points and power ups to get a high score. In the other mode, Prairie Dog Shooting Gallery, you are able to choose from various locations to hunt small animals in a certain amount of time. You get a bonus for killing three in a row, and you have to kill some of each type of prairie dog, depending on a vegetable symbol above their head, as they pop out. I found this mode similar to a real life whack a mole.
The last mode available in the game is multiplayer through Xbox Live. Here you are able to set up your own hunts and compare points to each other in an open tournament. Aside from just making the shot and achieveing the highest score, you are able to use perks to hinder your opponent or help yourself. Multiplayer is pretty fun, there were just not any matches going on, and at the time I played there were only three people online, myself included.
Yes, the modes are fairly robust, and there is a lot of stuff to do, but when you get down to the action of the game, it doesn’t play very well. First of all, the character moves ridiculously slow, and only when you sprint are you moving at normal FPS speed. The controls overall feel very loose, and it is sometimes really hard to aim at the smaller animals and geese/ducks. The aiming mode from last year’s game is again implemented, where you are able to see basically an x-ray of the animal you are about to hunt (if it is big game) and are able to target its vitals. This is a cool feature, but it doesn’t work very well, and the animal sometimes moves so fast that it gets out of your shot range and the cursor is trying to keep up, and it can be very disorienting and frustrating.
The graphics and animations themselves are also pretty terrible. There is a lot of clipping, some screen tearing, as well as horrible textures and wonky animations. The game definitely needed a lot more polish work before it was sent to the market. The graphics were not so bad that I could not stand it, but there were some obvious corners that were cut. Other presentations issues that I had were that the voice acting is horrible. It falls very flat, and also feels overly forced. The music also is very generic, and doesn’t really stand out in any way. All in all, this game is one that has a lot of ambition in modes, but not in presentation.
Overall, Cabela’s North American Adventures is not a bad game; there are just no real redeeming qualities for someone who is new to the genre. Yes, the people that buy these games every year have more than enough reason to pick it up, with the variety of modes and stuff to do. But for someone looking in from the outside and has never tried these types of games before, I cannot help but tell you to pass and save your money for a different game.
Review copy provided by publisher.