Review: Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2013 makes you the prey – to awful gameplay on the Wii U
When Activision released Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2011 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, I was kind of keen to the idea of turning more towards a survival-based hunting game, rather than the usual "sporting affair" that the other games follow. With the risk of being mauled by a bear or other wild animals thrown in, you actually feel more compelled to see what's offered around the next turn – not to mention in a more confrontational state than just hunting deer from a distance.
Plus, I liked the peripheral that came with the game. Though the gimmicky "hunting sense" didn't really do me any favors, being able to aim and shoot with what feels like a real rifle did the trick, compared to typical first-person shooter controls.
That left me wondering about the Wii U version of this year's game, Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2013. It follows the same basics, featuring a single player mode where you take down wild prey before it snuffs you. It also has an arcade mode and a new Maneater co-op mode. Let's be honest though, would it be the same without that cool little rifle in your hands? The simple answer – nope.
Everything about Hunts 2013 collapses before it even begins. The biggest flaw being its gameplay. In the main story mode and co-op, you can either use a Pro controller or the GamePad, but either way, you best get used to inaccurate aiming (real useful when a pack of wolves is charging you, right?). Let's not forget the lame, slow-going loading process that leaves you high and dry while you're being mauled. You might as well go after these things with a broken bow and arrow set.
As for Maneater mode, while you can have one player controlling a person on the GamePad and another on the TV, the controls don't get much better. You're likely to accidentally shoot each other than you are effectively taking down your prey – and this is even with the slo-mo abilities where you can see their internal organs through unexplained X-Ray vision and take 'em down with one shot. It's just a mess.
Then there's the arcade mode, and here you would expect the game to at least be as appealing as the Big Buck arcade games. Nope. They exclusively use the Wii U touch-pad for aiming and shooting, and half the time you end up missing your targets because the sensors feel off. It's hard enough switching between a regular rifle for ground animals and a shotgun for flying geese, but having to predict an enemy's movements ahead of time to hit them? It just doesn't work. What's worse, when you're zoomed in with a sniper vision (yes, sniper vision in an ARCADE MODE), your accuracy is even lessened, with bullets flying by groups of enemies and leaving them running, eliminating your scoring chances.
Dangerous Hunts 2013 also has severe graphic issues. While some of the animals look realistic, the shoddy animation needs improvement, and the environments don't really differ much. The slo-mo sequences are cool, except when you miss your shot and end up getting killed – so never mind. The audio has some decent (but forgettable) "twangy" music plays, and the voicework is acceptable…even if it does sound like something out of a bad melodrama.
Without the convenience of that cool peripheral, and without any notable gameplay to lean on, Dangerous Hunts 2013 just gets nowhere fast. The promise of intense scenarios and a somewhat decent storyline (as much of a storyline as a hunting game can allow for) are scattered by frustration and technical issues. Just go play a hunting game in the arcade instead.