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Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012
Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Activision
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Sports (Hunting)

Graphics & Sound:
I will freely admit that I haven't really played hunting games before, not since Duck Hunt actually. I do like shooting guns though, so the idea of a new gun controller in Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012 really appealed to me. The first thing I noticed is that the graphics are quite well done, of the animals at least. The animals and the nature scenes look amazing. I really liked roaming around in the snow levels especially, just because it was so pretty. The people aren't perfect, but they are still good. At least they don't look like zombies, so that's always a positive. I was really impressed with the variety of landscapes in which you could play. Everything from the desert to the jungle to the frozen tundra is possible. The one complaint I had was that in the Multiplayer Mode, it was very difficult to see the blue player's crosshairs on the snow scenes. It just seemed to blend into the background. It would have been nice to be able to change the color of the crosshairs easily, just for ease of viewing.

Make sure to turn your sound way down before you start, unless you want to wake the neighborhood. For some reason, the audio is quite loud, although I do like the background noises and such. In the Story Mode, it really does feel like you're in the woods stalking your prey. Of course, the gun shots are quite realistic, enough that my dogs started barking at them.

There are two methods of play in Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012 and they are pretty much opposite concepts. The first is Story Mode. Here, you are on vacation out hunting a "man-killing" grizzly bear when another hunter jumps in front of you and shoots it, simply angering it. Apparently on your "vacation," you are participating in an exclusive hunt that invites the best hunters from around the world to the Orion International Safari. You'll start out in one area and you are given specific tasks and you must complete these before you go on to the next one. If you fail and miss your shot, you have to start back at the previous checkpoints. This can be a real problem if you're right before the next checkpoint and miss a single shot. You might find yourself replaying things a few times to get past them, but that just gives the game a bit of difficulty. It's just the right amount, I think. Anyway, Story Mode is going to make you learn to stalk and shoot prey very accurately. It's mostly about patience and setting up your shots. There are cases where you have to shoot something on the run as well, though. Of course, if you want to chase live game more, then you'll love the Galleries.

In Galleries, you can play single or multiplayer, up to 4 players. At first, you'll only have a few locations to choose from, so pick one and start playing. The more stars you earn, the more new locations you will unlock. Basically, Galleries is a continual shooting gallery where you need to shoot as many animals as you can and be as accurate as you can. Accuracy is very important to getting past the checkpoints. You need a certain number of points for each checkpoint. Each animal is worth a certain amount and you earn multipliers for each one you get in a row without missing a shot. This means that if you don't miss any, your score will soar. If you miss a lot though, you probably won't make the checkpoint. In multiplayer, the multipliers are for all players added together, so if any one person misses, the multiplier is stopped but with several accurate players, you can really get a high score!

As I mentioned before, Story Mode in Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012 can be quite difficult if you miss at all. You will need to be extra careful to stalk your prey and zoom in so that you don't miss a single shot. But they do give you a decent amount of checkpoints, so it seems about a perfect difficulty. In Galleries, it is a different type difficulty. You need to be accurate and quick at the same time. You aren't given time to stalk and zoom in on your prey, rather you need to shoot and get past each checkpoint. If you miss one, you'll have to restart that board. In both modes, there is one thing that you need to remember. You can shoot just about anything that moves, but don't shoot the does! You will lose points for them in Galleries and you will fail in Story Mode. So if it is a deer, make sure to look for antlers before you pull the trigger!

If you find that you're having trouble in Story Mode, you can customize your guns to upgrade things and improve performance. The more points you earn on each level, the more you can buy. Unfortunately, if you can't get past the beginning, this isn't going to help you much, but just keep trying as you will get the hang of it quickly.

Game Mechanics:
First things first, the number one complaint I have seen in regards to Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012 is that people cannot get the gun calibrated. I had the same problem actually and had to have a friend come over. I can tell you to make sure that the bar is set on 3 hours (I don't know why, but that is the recommendation I have read) and make sure that you turn on the bar by pressing the button on the right end. That might sound like common sense, but since the button isn't right next to the time selector, you might miss it. Make sure that you see the red light on the front of the sensor bar light up before you try and calibrate. The game will recognize the gun at random moments when that light is not on, but you will not get anywhere. I hope that helps as the calibration is the one really strong complaint that I have about the game.

The mechanics are the same in Story Mode and Galleries except that you don't really need all of the buttons in Galleries. You'll find that you have no use for the zoom function (and really no time to use it) and you don't have control of the camera in Galleries. It's just a much quicker mode. It is also the best place to get used to the basic controls, point the gun at the target and pull the trigger to shoot. You will have to reload by pumping the reload underneath the front of the gun. Once you are in Story Mode, you will have a lot more things that you need to know. First, I found it difficult to get used to moving the camera with the gun in Story Mode, but after I got the hang of it, it really made perfect sense. Basically, you just move the gun off-screen to move the camera. You'll have to practice a bit to keep from moving it too quickly. The other thing I found difficult was reaching the (Square) button. Maybe it's just because I'm short, but it felt like I was really reaching for it and had to let go of the pump to reach it. Moving it further away from the very end would have helped me, but once again, that could be because I am short so hopefully you guys won't have trouble.

Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012 is the first hunting game I've played in many years and it is a good, solid reintroduction to the genre. Story Mode will satiate your desire for stalking and Galleries are a great quick hunt for one or more players. If you're looking for something different from playing with a controller, check out the new gun that will also work with the Playstation Move in Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012.

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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