|System: Wii, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sand Grain Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 9, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Hunting is perhaps not a sport for everyone, but the pastime has carved and sustained a niche for itself in the realm of video games for quite some time now. With the advent of the Wii and its piper's march for the casual gamer, it's sub-genres, such as this one, are cropping up to take a big bite of the sales pie. Activision now brings us their latest in a line of Cabela's-branded games set for Wii, but will motion-controlled hunting build a bridge for general audiences, or is this strictly a moose call?
Legendary Adventures takes place in the wilds of North America, and you relive the great hunts of Walter Graham, beginning from 1933. You'll travel through time, experiencing re-creations of some of the most glorious areas of the continent, manning various new weapons and tools as you progress through generations. The story, though little more than a greeting card, is surprisingly satisfying and fitting with what the rest of the game has to offer.
You'll begin your adventure in Ricketts Glen State Park (Pennsylvania), with a 30-06 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, a 44-revolver handgun, a long bow, and a couple of other hunting accessories. The game plays as a first-person shooter (FPS), with movement of your character controlled via the analog stick on the Nunchuk and aiming done with the Wii Remote. Almost all the buttons on both controllers will serve in some capacity throughout the game, and there's an option to use the Wii Zapper peripheral.
One of the first things you'll notice about the game is it doesn't hold your hand. Legendary Adventures drops you in a location, and it's up to you to hunt down your prey. You do get a quick, text-only rundown of the controls and objectives, but after that, you're on your own. Luckily, the objectives are fairly simple, and the game allows you to take your time. So, getting over the learning curve isn't terribly difficult, but patience is required.
The second thing you'll notice is that the controls are fixed, and there are no options to customize them to your liking. On the upside, the aiming is pretty good, though not terribly steady when shooting from long distances. However, the bounding box (the parameter of the screen that determines frame movement, based upon how far you move the aiming reticule from the center of the screen) is huge, and the vertical and horizontal movement while aiming is a tad slow. It's not difficult, though, to gain your bearings and come to terms with the controls, and, overall, it's an FPS set-up for Wii that works fairly well.
Each portion of your adventure tasks you with a main goal - some species of big game to bring down. Deer, elk, moose - they're all on the agenda - though it's the secondary objectives that will lead you there. As you survey the wilds, you'll come across animal skulls, which contain challenges. By successfully completing challenges, your "Hunter IQ" will go up. You will have to reach at least a level-three IQ before you're afforded any opportunity of coming across your main objective. All challenges consist of shooting various game - sometimes within a certain amount of time, sometimes with a certain weapon. Small game are always okay to hunt, and taking them down will help level up your Hunter IQ. But, you're only allowed to hunt the larger game when tasked to do so by the skull challenges, lest you bring down your IQ and set yourself further apart from your ultimate goal. It's a simple system, but one that helps to keep things fun and interesting.
When you first set out on an adventure, you'll be tracking your prey by following its footprints. You'll also gain Hunter IQ during this process, and finding an animal's main stomping grounds will aid you in making that final kill. Generally speaking, there are three areas of each mission, with load times in between. The areas aren't terribly large, nor are they terribly different in appearance. Some of the bluffs and vistas in the game are impressive, but it's a shame you never really gain access to them. For the most part, you're relegated to hunting in more wide-open spaces. You'll wander around each area, pick up challenges, level up your Hunter IQ, and then bring down the big game. It's the same for each mission. For those who enjoy the hunting process, it's a routine that can be enjoyable.