Let me just say this up front, there have been no great hunting games made…EVER. A few solid ones… yes, but none that could be considered great. The more I heard about Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011, the more I thought that maybe this could be the one. The game already has a built-in passionate consumer base, so that already gives it a leg up on other games. Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 was the most innovative and ambitious attempt I have seen to date to make a hunting game that was more than just a bunch of shooting galleries. Unfortunately, that attempt does not deliver, which will provide only frustration to even the most patient of gamers.
To set up the review, I played the game as it comes bundled with the Top Shot Elite controller. The concept of the Top Shot Elite is awesome, instead of a regular controller the player actually gets to aim, reload, and pull the trigger as they take down some of the meanest beast you have ever seen in a video game. In reality though, it is just not accurate or responsive enough over the long haul and that has as much to do with the controller itself as the overall design of the game. Before you even begin to play the game, there is a decent amount of assembly required. You literally have to put together the Top Shot Elite controller, which isn’t complicated at all, only I wish someone would have told me I needed a screwdriver. Overall, I found that in the shooting gallery game modes the Top Shot Elite performed admirably, and was more than sufficient to enjoy that game mode. However, when it comes to the story mode, it becomes more of a hindrance than a help.
The story plus the controller was supposed to make Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 a turning point in the production of hunting games, but it never quite comes together. The story itself is decent and I will say that the team does an excellent job of creating that since of fear where you don’t know what is going to pop out, which inherently keeps you on your toes. As you play, it quickly becomes apparent that it will be hard to progress due to the propensity of the game to leave you completely disoriented while being attacked from multiple angles. This unfortunately leaves you with no way that works well to quickly focus, resulting in an insane amount of deaths. Even during the period of time that you do know which way is up, the game will frustrate you due to the placement of the hit and kill boxes. The last time I checked if you shot most things in the head with a high powered rifle or shotgun, they usually die. That’s not always the case in Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011, and while I could understand a headshot possibly not taking down a grizzly immediately, there is no way it shouldn’t drop smaller predators like wolves, jackals, and mountain lions. Another thing that will frustrate gamers is the placement of the checkpoints and the slow load times after you die. I was amazed at how far you would have to start back from after you died most of the time. You literally had to replay two to three minor skirmishes plus get back to where you died from just to die several more times. There are so many sections of the game where you’re outnumbered with predators attacking from all angles, and you couldn’t track all of them and you forget to move around. I actually tried to throw the Top Shot Elite several times – good thing it was hooked to my wrist.
With that said, I don’t want to make it seem all bad because it wasn’t. During the time where I wasn’t frustrated in the story mode, it was actually enjoyable. The problem is the ratio of frustration to enjoyment – it’s way off. I did enjoy the shooting galleries that I mentioned earlier. In this mode, the camera pretty much orients you where you need to go so all you have to do is aim and shoot. I would have appreciated the game telling me that I should use the shotgun to shoot birds instead of the rifle, rather than just taking points from me. Another issue I had was the sensor bar, which communicates wirelessly with the Top Shot Elite to track the movement of the barrel. The instructions will tell you that you can either place it above or below the TV, I tried both and it actually probably needs to be somewhere in the middle to avoid the player having to either hold the controller higher or lower than they need too, which quickly becomes uncomfortable.
The final call on Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 is that its gets an “A” for ambition and innovation, but closer to a “C+” on execution. For people that really love these types of games they will pull through all the shortcomings and probably come out of it with a decent experience and might even have a bit of fun. For gamers that don’t fall into that category, then I don’t know if Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 is worth the time, frustration, and money. For attempting to introduce a major shift in how this genre works, even if they didn’t quite do it ZoKnowsGaming gives Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 6.5 out of 10.