Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2 Review / Preview for Xbox (XB)

Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2 Review / Preview for Xbox (XB)

Guns don’t kill video game animals. People using digital representations of real guns kill video game animals. by Daemia

December 10, 2005 – Nothing illustrates the magic of Christmas better than turning beautiful, wild animals into rugs.

Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2 may technically be considered a sequel but it’s taken a different direction in favor of more action-oriented killings – as opposed to hunting. This time the word “Dangerous” in the title is actually apropos.

Personally I am against hunting but I’d be a hypocrite to say that I’m against a hunting game since I also play games in which you kill humans – and although I’ve been called a lot of things, a murderess I am not.

Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2 ventures into new territory. While hunting is still included, it’s downplayed in favor of missions that require killing specific animals to defend villages, people under your care and of course yourself. You will be attacked by a plethora of creatures from grizzlies to lions to wolves which makes shooting these animals a lot more acceptable from a psychological aspect. It’s the old self-defense excuse. I’m sure that the developers could care less about that since they are instead faced with the prospect that hunting virtual animals in the traditional sense was getting a little boring. This new direction is intended to appeal to gamers that in the past have not shown any interest in a hunting video. This is like a red-neck version of GTA – a really bad version to be honest but it’s not such a terrible game in its own right. Most of the sim elements are gone, replaced by a more user-friendly arcade style of gameplay.

A story permeates the main mode. As an experienced hunter you will take on a series of missions that range from acting as a guide on a big game hunt to rescuing a woman from the bush. You will need various weapons and gadgets to complete the different missions. These devices include shotguns, knives, scopes, handguns, various calls, communications systems, machetes and tranquilizer guns. You will be awarded different gear for each mission.

Locations range from Australia to Alaska to Africa where you’ll encounter elephants, boars, wolves, tigers, polar bears and cougars. The animals look and move realistically but their behavior is suspect since all they really do is just attack you and your party for no particular reason. All you have to do is shoot them in the head and they’ll usually bite it. Once you complete a mission in an area it will be unlocked for you to do some hunting.

Unlike the first game, hunting is not a sim. All it really consists of is crouching down and waiting for the animal to appear before you bag it. There is no baiting, no calls or decoys to implement. It’s a really shallow feature and one has to wonder why they didn’t make this at least as deep as the first game since it can be avoided altogether and is not a mandatory mission.

For best results, animals should be shot in the head. Not only is the aiming somewhat forgiving but ammo can be found scattered throughout the region – how ever unlikely. To makes things even easier there is a form of bullet time which slows down the action allowing you to get a few well-placed shots in. This slow motion feature is limited to how long it takes you to press the button again to access it. You could do virtually all of your shooting in slow motion. Do you really think the average kid has that much self-control to not keep that button pressed down when things get tough? The game won’t last an afternoon if that’s the case. Do yourself a favor and just use the slow motion when you really need it. Which isn’t all that often since your characters is able to suffer extensive damage at the hands of the wildlife. Health packets are readily available and as long as you remain still for a time, you will eventually regain your lost health.

Animals aren’t the only dangers that you’ll face. As in any adventure game you’ll have to negotiate various environmental hazards. Here you will have to beat paths through forests and grassy areas. There are hills to climb, rocks to scale and caves to explore. You’ll also have to be on the lookout for quicksand, forest fires, crocodile-filled waters and human-made animal traps. If you’re unlucky enough to have a bad encounter with any of these things you’ll sustain some damage on your person which can result in a bad limp, dazed stagger or even worse. The game saves your progress automatically, but not always at the exact spot that you would like it to. Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do about it.

Like most shooters there are bosses. You will have an encounter with a huge wild boar named Hogzilla as well as an encounter with a giant species of rare apes. You can keep out of harms’ way by using the scope for a lot of kills and you can even snipe from a helicopter in some levels – just like some losers do in real life.

Some gun models are so ugly you would think they were designed by a pre-schooler. The animals are good and display appropriate animation characteristics. The big cats freeze and seem to load up on some kind of energy before they attack while the grizzly will just lunge at you with brute force on his side. Wolves will try to flank you while hunting you in a pack formation. The sounds are very similar to the first game and the voiceacting of the cliché characters in the cutscenes is so over-the-top you would think they were produced by Hanna Barbara.

To say this game is easy would be an understatement. It’s presented as an arcade game rather than a hunting sim, and truth be told, I prefer it this way. I would have liked the slow motion to be limited to one use and then go about killing more animals to fill the meter up again. A hunting simulator would also have been a welcome addition for those that prefer the simulated experience of the first game. Then again, you could save a few bucks and just chase some squirrels around with a stick in your backyard.

By Daemia
CCC Staff Writer

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