Game Review: Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2012 (PS3)
Release: September 2011
Genre: First-Person Shooter/ Hunting Simulator
Developer: Cauldron Ltd.
Available Platforms: 360, PS3. Wii
ESRB Rating: Teen
Cabela’s latest release in their long-running franchise, Big Game Hunter 2012, straddles the line between on-rail shooter and FPS. While if you have even a passing familiarity with the series, nothing in this release will come as a surprise to you, there are still a few unexpected high points contained within its brief campaign. That being said, the low points many have come to expect from the series are still present.
Big Game Hunter 2012 drops you in the roll of a hunter who’s signed up for a world-tour game hunting competition. As you’d expect, you’re taken to several continents in search of the biggest and best game to track and hunt. There’s three ways to play Move, Top Shot Elite, and the stand-alone controller. Reviewed with both the Top Shot Elite and regular controller, the easiest way to interact with Cabela’s was just using the controller. Responsiveness was one to one accurate, and remembering the placement of all the buttons was never an issue. The tools and guns at your disposal are just diverse enough to never get repetitive, however there were a few items (such as the camera) that barely got any use at all throughout.
Playing through each level is as straight-forward as game design gets. You’re put on a path, and you walk forward until you pick up your game’s trail, then you walk forward some more until you come up on it. You can look around your immediate surroundings, but save for a few hidden paths, there’s nothing to really be gained. The environments themselves are as diverse as they need to be, showing off whatever region you’re in fairly accurately. The path to your game is usually filled with random smaller wildlife either scurrying past you or flying above. Anything on the screen is up for grabs, with sub-goals for collecting certain amounts of the smaller creatures before the end of the level.
Big Game Hunter 2012 is, at its core, mindless fun. Some may take issue with the simulated killing of animals, but in the face of game after game being built upon killing aliens, mutants, or even other humans, that argument has no bearing in this review. The arcade nature of the level progression draws you in, and keeps you playing until the game’s conclusion. There’s a satisfaction that comes with tagging a moving target, or hitting your prey in just the right spot for a take down. If you’re a part of the mainstream/casual demographic this game’s being marketed to, or if you’re looking for a good distraction between major releases, Cabela’s 2012 just might fit the bill.
Where the title struggles is its inability to decide if it wants to be either an on-rails or first-person shooter. Every step of the way, you’re reminded of this as game play just never feels as satisfying as it could. As a first-person shooter, its too limited in scope- the path is a narrow one that never really encourages exploration, interactive tracking segments feel completely unnecessary, and a gripping narrative just isn’t there. As an on-rails shooter, Cabela’s 2012 lacks the diversity, combo-driven game play, and roller coaster nature that has come to define the genre. When compared to the greats in either class of shooter, like Dead Space Extraction, Modern Warfare, House of the Dead, or Resistance 3, Big Game Hunter just can’t hold its own. Coupling these issues with a light gun that’s largely unnecessary (and barely-functional) leaves picking this one up at full retail a tall order.
All in all, Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2012 was an enjoyable distraction from a heavy season of top-tier releases. It will never be seen as a high watermark in gaming, but then again the series never aspires to do so. At it’s heart, Cabela’s is an arcade game, meant to be played with friends in short bursts of one to three hours. Taken on that level, it succeeds. If you’re at all interested though, avoiding having to pay full retail price is highly recommended.
-Fun, compelling arcade action.
-Best played with standard controller.
-Entertaining in small doses, at the risk of becoming highly repetitive.
7 out of 10