Review: Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2013 features an impressive peripheral and intense survival
The Dangerous Hunts series has always caught my eye thanks to the inclusion of a big plastic gun. This year's version packs in a shotgun with some impressive functionality that not only enhances the gameplay, but makes it feel much more intense. Does the game itself stack up well to the gun, however?
Dangerous Hunts 2013 actually lays on the story quite heavily. After a family hunt outing goes bad and your dad ends up mauled by a grizzly bear, you then take on the mantle and carry on his legacy, or something like that. To be perfectly honest, despite there being a narrative, all I really wanted was to shoot a bunch of deadly animals in the face, or heart, or any other vital place that I'm able to see with my super-enhanced hunter vision.
I find this particular peripheral to be so damn cool, not because it actually looks like a shotgun, but because it includes a built-in heart sensor. Whether this thing works accurately or not, I can't really say, but there is something undoubtedly awesome about the game making you take a calming breath to actually steady your aim and take out animals with precision. Of course, you'll be using a wide range of weapons in the game, from a handgun to a sniper rifle, so it is a bit odd that you're still holding the shotgun the way you are, even though you're wielding a handgun in the game.
The game doesn't always give you a chance to relax and take your aim. In fact, you're more often than not going to be chased or surrounded by deadly animals that all want to rip you apart, like hyenas, wolves, lions, I'm talking the works. Even here, the heart rate monitor plays its part as it can tell (presumably) when you're tense and stressed, and therefore make your aiming a bit less accurate.
The gun play is absolutely great, when you're not in charge of getting around on foot. The on-rails sections are so perfectly constructed that you're left wishing the entire game would play out like this. Even in these sequences, things jump out at you unexpectedly, making these seemingly predictable situations feel anything but.
When you do have to walk, and that's actually the bulk of the game, things start to fall apart a bit. The game seems to be designed for right handed players, which in fact, I am. However, that means that the thumbstick is used by my right hand. This feels weird since my brain is wired to know that moving your character is with the left thumb and aiming with the right. Here, I'm constantly trying to aim with right thumb, even though clearly I'm supposed to be aiming with a gun. This makes things like strafing feel very awkward.
It also takes a bit to remember what each button does, such as changing weapons or dodging. The latter is actually extremely important, since you'll find yourself in situations where dodging large animals like rhinos is essential to your survival. Dodging ends up feeling awkward becasue you have to hold down X (or square on the PS3) and then tilt the thumbstick to the side. You might be thinking 'not a big deal,' except once again my brain is telling me that the right thumbstick is to aim, making me not want to use it initially to dodge.
What I'm saying is that it takes some getting used to, but once it all comes together, it's actually quite enjoyable. The set pieces are always intense, sometimes borderline survival horror, and that's what makes Dangerous Hunts 2013 so damn fun to play, despite its somewhat awkward controls.
When not delving into the story, you can play Maneater mode, which is a split screen 'Horde Mode' of sorts where you take down waves of increasingly dangerous animals. It's playable solo, but it's far more fun with another person, especially when one player is trying to hunt down animals far away with a sniper rifle, while the other is trying to survive in the midst of the chaos.
Dangerous Hunts 2013 manages to provide a tense and sometimes even scary experience, which is both thanks to the awesome included peripheral, but also due to the limiting on-foot controls. If it's been your dream to shoot a bunch of wild animals in the face, Dangerous Hunts 2013 is a safe bet.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]