reviews\ Dec 5, 2004 at 7:00 pm

Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2005 Adventures - PS2 - Review

Most people separate those who play games into two groups: casual and hardcore. They don't make room for players who are in between casual and hardcore, nor do they acknowledge a small (but profitable) market that was created for non-gamers. The games designed for this market include PC fishing games, Deer Hunter, and even a few paintball shooters. These games were designed to reach out to the farthest person and pull him or her into a world of interactive entertainment.

As successful as these games have been, did anyone ever leave room for the possibility that one of them would actually be good? Previously they only appealed to those who don't play games. What might happen if one were released that had the potential to appeal to both gamers and non-gamers?

Cabela's Big Game Hunter: 2005 Adventures combines semi-realistic wild animal hunting with a few first-person shooter elements (like running) and a realistic element that only the Grand Theft Auto series seems to acknowledge (panting and the inability to run without getting tired). These aren't necessarily the features that Joe Gamer is looking for. But if Joe Gamer likes hunting, he'll likely be surprised by what Cabela's Big Game Hunter has to offer.


Equipped with a sniper rifle and a woodsy area filled with free-roaming creatures, the player can choose to be either male or female. Five options are available - three for men, two for women, each affecting the age of the character you play as. Men can be as young as 18 or as old as 60; women can play as an 18-year-old or as a woman in her 30s. The age limitation on women doesn't make sense, except that it might have something to do with real-world hunting demographics (my grandmother prefers to make the turkey and leave the killing to someone else). I still dislike the limitation though. There's no point in creating an inequality, whether it exists in the real world or not.

With a character selected and a gun in your hands, it's off to the woods you go. On-screen indicators will help point you and your gun in the direction of wild animals. But watch out! These animals are wild and will attack if they feel threatened, which can happen just by approaching them. They don't need to know you're holding a weapon to realize that they might be in danger.

Anything that could block your vision in real life will block your vision in this game. Trees can't be shot through. Grass can be, but it covers the smaller animals so well that you won't be able to see them. The sniper rifle scope is not good for much more than to line up the crosshairs with a moving target. Chances are if you can't see an animal from afar it's somewhere safe. The scope won't give you greater clarity in these cases.

Chasing down that trophy kill may prove to be more challenging than you'd expect. Hunters don't run and shoot at the same time, therefore you can't run and shoot in this game either. Draw your weapon before running and it will disappear once you start, then reappear when you come to a stop. To kill deer, a bear (or even a mocking bird), locate the animal, wait patiently, and snipe it immediately when you get the chance.

Cabela's control scheme is typical among console games, providing acceptable but imperfect mechanics that anyone can use. Since you can't shoot while in motion, the two analog sticks don't have to be moved in conjunction. Instead, players can expect a much slower-paced experience. This is animal hunting, remember?

There's a reward for success though, a reward that only comes after sticking it out. First, you get the satisfaction of killing a virtual animal that the developers programmed to be smarter than the player (as far as animal intelligence goes). Second, the camera shifts to a first-person bullet view after pulling the trigger. Watch as the bullet dives from your gun past the scenery and right into the flesh of your prey.

I wouldn't go out and buy Cabela's Big Game Hunter: 2005 Adventures for myself or for my hardcore gamer friends. But if I needed to get a gift for my uncle in West Virginia, or if I needed to recommend a game to my friend's father (both of them hunt), it'd be Cabela's Big Game Hunter.

The gameplay is very basic – anyone who wants to learn how to play it will learn how to play it whether they've played a lot of games before or not. Expect the average non-gamer to get at least a few months out of this one.

Review Scoring Details for Cabela’s Big Game Hunter: 2005 Adventures

Gameplay: 7.0
Designed for the non-gamer, Cabela's Big Game Hunter: 2005 Adventures is a first-person shooter without the traits of the genre. You can't run and shoot, strafe and shoot, or jump to avoid a rabid wolverine. Animals will run at the slightest sound, and if you get too close they may attack. All you can do is sneak through the woods, park your butt, and take aim at the nearest animal.

Graphics: 5.0
Cabela's Big Game Hunter would be so much more entertaining if the graphics were good. They're not horrendous, but they lack the realism seen in most PS2 games. Outdoor environments (your only environments) look grainy and dated.

Sound: 5.0
The peaceful sounds of wildlife and...heavy breathing! Listen to your hunter's breath as you run through the stage.

Difficulty: Easy/Medium
Difficult for the non-gamer, easy for anyone who knows how to use a game controller, Cabela's Big Game Hunter will hold its target audience for months, while chasing away hardcore gamers in a day.

Concept: 6.0
There's not much room for innovation in the big-game hunter genre. Same concept, new game.

Overall: 7.0
Here's a test to see if your father would enjoy Cabela's Big Game Hunter: 2005 Adventures.


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