Dangerous Hunts 2011 brings adventure, reviewer headache

Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts

If you’re anxious to try out Cabela’s
Dangerous Hunts 2011, be prepared for a test of patience and
endurance. Who knew holding a plastic rifle and cocking your head to
the side to look into a scope could lead to shoulder pain and
migraines?

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In the single-player mode, you follow Rainesford Family’s men on a hunting trip. Hunting has been in your blood
for generations and your father’s incessant nagging about family
history and pride don’t stop for at least the first 10 minutes of the
game.

Your character, Cole Rainesford, begins
his adventure hunting elk in a snowy forest, where after his first
kill, he is given the honor of eat the heart of the elk you just shot
to celebrate the kill. Yummy!

After protecting your father from a
wild animal attack, you receive a tongue lashing since you only
wounded the animal that attacked him and did not kill it. The game
continues with Cole hunting one animal then hunting a large bear that
attacked and killed campers in your forest. You move slowly and
steadily though the map looking for signs or tracks with the aid of
“Hunter Sense,” a function that helps you locate tracks
throughout the map but ends up making you dizzy.

As you continue through the game, your
character follows a narrow predetermined path which leads him through
his perilous journey. You control your character with the use of the
plastic rifle called the “Top Shot Elite.” Moving your weapon
left, right, up or down can control the movement of your character.
Warning: the combination of the rifle and the scope can make you feel
sick.

The controls of the “Top Shot Elite,”
are easy to use but cumbersome in their placement. The right joystick
is used for movement within the game and is conveniently placed
behind the trigger, giving you a comfortable shooting grip. Buttons A
& B are located right beneath the right controller for quick
access. The Y button is designated for action and the X button is set
to cycle though the three weapons you have.

When first tested the rifle on my 46″
television, the rifle would not properly calibrate, which made moving
and shooting difficult. The first five minutes of play brought on the onset of a splitting headache. I powered though, but
less than 15 minutes later I was done.

The shooting galleries are a test of
skill as waves of different beasts and fowl challenge your aiming
abilities. The opening screen in the first gallery begins with just a
couple of elks, but soon they are popping out from behind every tree
and rock.

Remember, don’t shoot the does or
you’ll lose 500 points for each one. The gallery progresses to a number of other game, such as bighorn sheep, rhinos, wolves,
hyenas, hippos and more. A giant grizzly also appears, at times
dodging vegetation or rocks as it charges at you. Specially colored
animals are also worth more.

In between the volleys of beasts, the
fowl take flight. Switch to your shotgun before shooting the birds or
you’ll lose points. You don’t have to hit each and every bird, a
blast from the shotgun seems to take out several birds at a time.

Switching between the rifle and shotgun
can be a bit slow, if you needed to reload before you attempted to
switch.

You can take on the galleries in
single-player or multiplayer mode. You get three shots with the
rifle and two shots with the shotgun before you have to reload. At
each level, you can accumulate extras, such as ammo or glasses that
make that animals easier to see.

Passing around the
firearm among your friends can really throw off the calibration. The
game advises you to recalibrate each time you pass the weapon or
change seats. If you don’t, you’ll soon find it much tougher to zero
in on your targets.

Top Shot Elite

Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 is sold
by itself or packaged with Cabela’s “Top Shot Elite,” a
peripheral firearm controller that comes with its own advantages and
disadvantages.

The good news first. The gun looks
cool, if a bit out of place for a hunting game. Cabela’s previous
“Top Shot” controller resembled a traditional hunters’ shotgun,
but the new version has a futuristic, military design, albeit one
with a white and bright orange color scheme.

(“Cool” of course, is a
matter of opinion. A colleague advised this reviewer to never let a
woman see the controller.)

The Top Shot Elite boasts an adjustable
stock and its scope slides on to the top of the controller, allowing
any player to make personal adjustments. Assembling the controller
makes it easy for a player to imagine being in the role of a soldier
preparing for battle.

The scope’s red filter makes it
possible for game designers to hide game elements on the player’s
television screen. Viewing the screen through the scope makes it
possible for a player to see obscured images, which can be fun or an
experience in frustration.

In the new Cabela’s game, the scope
system is a way to “hunt” by following otherwise hidden clues.
The player can move around by using analog sticks and buttons
attached to the controller, but what begins as a novel way to play a
video game can become a drag after one realizes the only way to
advance in a level is to keep the scope up to one’s eye.

After a while, it is easy to lose track
of one’s place in the level and one realizes that no hunter would
walk through the woods with his or her gun raised in a firing
position.

In short, the new controller has
potential but was probably packaged with the wrong game. Given its
potential to remind players of a “phased plasma rifle in the 40
watt range,” the Top Shot Elite may be better put to use in an
arcade-esque shooter set in

the coming robot apocalypse or some
other setting where the player can just shoot stuff instead of
peering through a scope.

Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011

Activision/Cauldron

Nintendo Wii/Nintendo DS/PlayStation
3/XBox 360 (Reviewed on XBox 360)

Rated T for Teen

Al Cuizon reviewed the single-player
game.

Mike Cruz reviewed the multiplayer
game.

Andrew Edwards reviewed the Top Shot
Elite controller.