Impressions: Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures

I’m staunchly opposed to hunting for sport, so I’d much rather there be video games created to satiate that bizarre hunger of needing to head out into the woods and bag trophy bucks to brag to your overly rich friends about. At the very least, the animals aren’t being needlessly harmed (and often wasted). Unfortunately, I live in a state where hunting is lauded and praised for being some kind of rite of passage, and I know a little bit more than I’d like to thanks to millions of conversations with friends and acquaintances. One thing that I do love are FPSs and any title that involves fragging digital enemies, and Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures goes a little way to entertain that love and combine real sport hunting into a decent hunting sim for those who either echo my sentiments about the hobby or who would rather not get their hands dirty.   

You’ll be hunting various types of animals from turkeys, geese, elk, and deer, to fish as well! Each different animal requires different weapons in order to finalize your kills, mainly guns, though you can also unlock several different types of animal calls in order to expedite the process. Throughout the game, you’ll unlock a myriad of special items ranging from new weapons, new calls, and several other items that should please your inner hunting fan. Armed with the appropriate tools you are free to “explore,” though exploration in-game is severely limited to where the game believes you should be allowed to go.   

In each new area you are briefed on exactly what is required of you, where to go, and how to get there. In the beginning of the game this is a welcome feature, though as you make enough progress and learn about the game’s ins and outs, these instructions quickly wear out their welcome, and you’ll find yourself cursing them time and time again, especially since solo exploration basically entails wandering around and running into obstacles that any regular human being could most certainly navigate around: rocks, rivers, and other silly hindrances that you could easily overcome in the real world. For a game that aims to be as realistic as possible when it comes to hunting, this was an issue that I encountered that made me stop and shake my head at the implausibility of not being able to surpass such obstacles as a large rock that you could climb over, move, or simply walk around. I can understand the limitations in game design, but the ability to explore a bit more in-game would certainly have been appreciated, especially given the subject matter.   

The act of hunting animals is not a difficult one, though it requires a bit of patience and tact. You can get to your inventory of items via the R1 button, and switch weapons with your D-pad. As this game does support Six Axis motion control, you occasionally must rely on the instability of said motion control via casting fishing lines and utilizing different animal calls. They work quite well, but as on the Wii, they end up feeling quite gimmicky rather than overly functional.  They could just as easily have  been omitted from the game, though I suppose if the system presents the opportunity to utilize motion control technology, developers tend to make use of it no matter the reason.   

What I found to be the most intriguing aspect of the hunt was the aiming system — rather than blindly fire at game, your target’s vital area will become illuminated so that you must hold your breath and fire at the appropriate organ in order to score a kill. You can choose between aiming for the spine, heart, or lungs (though curiously you cannot aim for the legs to disable the animal or the head). When zoomed in, you’ll use the L1 button as time slows down for your crackshot. However, though vitals are outlined for you and it should seem as simple as pie to bag the biggest trophy animal possible, the game has difficulty aiming despite your expertise when animals are moving.   

If you choose to take a shot while an animal is ambulatory, you may as well kiss that kill goodbye, as it becomes nigh impossible to get your reticle to hover over the correct vital sign. Sometimes you can navigate much easier than others, but this is a problem that plagues the aiming system throughout the entire length of the game. Unfortunately, it’s also the most important part, and for such a glaring flaw to present itself during some of the most integral pieces of gameplay, you know the developers will need to go back to the drawing board before releasing another title in the same vein. Checkpoints are scattered throughout each mission closely so that you can at least go back and try again for some of your kills, though the targeting system shouldn’t be so broken that it becomes necessary to do so.   

Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures is acceptable in the looks department, with detailed representations of the game you’re hunting. There is a bit of jerking when it comes to moving animals, and I’m not exactly sure where that came from but it seems to be a problem that could have been fixed before mass production. Sound effects are spot on as well, and may well be the highlight of the entire experience. Each animal is outfitted with their own unique cry, and weapons have that jarring BANG sound that you’d expect to hear in real life, as it should be rather than some wimpy, watered-down representation.   

While not perfect in any way whatsoever, Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures provides an impressive diversion for hunting fans. If you’re not into getting outside and harming any real animals, though the prospect is an enticing one, you’d be pretty satisfied with this digital representation. It needs a bit more polish when it comes to a viable targeting system and much more work in the graphics department, but it is entirely acceptable especially considering its genre. If you must hunt, why not choose this safe alternative?

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