Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2013 Review
Every now and then a game comes along that raises the bar for every other title. A game so unique and innovative that people everywhere are left in awe, genres are blown apart and a generation is defined. Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2013 is that game.
Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2013 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U)
Released: October 23, 2012
From the very start, it’s clear that this is no ordinary game you’re playing. The story of two brothers torn apart by the death of their father at the hands of a massive bear is as gripping as it is realistic. The game even broaches questions of the metaphysical; “it’s not a game!” exclaims the father on his fateful hunting trip. But we know the bitter outcome.
Cut to 10 years later, and the estranged brothers find themselves bonding again over the merciless slaughter of every species in the encyclopedia. Replacing humans with animals is a startling and poignant twist on the overly saturated FPS market. “There’s buffalo everywhere!” exclaims the protagonist, “shoot them all!” replies your ally in a chase sequence so intense it could rival any Call of Duty. “You got it, Ed!” your character affirms. It’s another level of dialogue.
Your journey is one that will take you around the globe, tallying up the kills like the anti-Noah, all the while subjected to the games deviously clever morality system. So clever, in fact, that there is no on-screen representation. But Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2013 knows it’s toying with your ethical choices. It doesn’t need a visual barometer.
You, after all, are imbued with both superpowers and .50 calibre rifles. Holding your breath, for example, grants you the ability to see an animals vital organs. They haven’t a hope in hell. Cleverly however, the game throws dozens of them at you at a time in an attempt to balance the power. And when the animals do inevitably die, they simply fade away at your feet. Make no mistake though, this isn’t merely the fault of poor technical performance issues. No, this is a powerful metaphor for the transient nature of being.
Endangered animals are wheeled out by the truck load, then shot in the fucking head. Here, the developers dare to hold up a mirror up to the society that refused to care about them. The spectacle of these magnificent beasts is enough to make you heart burst. The mighty elephant, dissolving through the floor after you unload eight shotgun cartridges into its bumhole. The alligators, pulsating across the bottom of your screen like Louie Spence in a onesie. It’s never anything less then remarkable.
Parts of the game switch unexpectedly into the horror genre. You’ve never known fear until you’ve been stalked by a lone hippopotamus in bland African marshland. To capitalise on this, the game introduces its pièce de résistance: the Fearmaster. A shotgun shaped peripheral that houses two heartbeat sensors. Should the pressures of a hyena snapping at your schnutz get too much for you, the gun will recognize this and make it even harder for you to aim. Feeling genuine fear and struggling to hit your target wasn’t enough for Cauldron, and they boldly chose to represent it on screen with a blur effect.
Two players may also engage in a special set of hunting arenas, much akin to the popular “horde” modes that now adorn every other game ever. The twist here is that, while sharing a screen, one player’s fear directly affects anothers, so you have to comfort your fellow hunter as you sit alone in your living room, lest the fear spiral out of control. It’s an astonishing movement towards a 4th dimensional gaming environment, but one I fear that may be too ahead of its time.
Dangerous Hunts boast a complex animal AI system whereby they can work together just like you and your real-life co-op partner. This behaviour mainly consists of running straight at you, then turning around if you dodge them. This is exactly the kind of thing a real animal might do, which only adds to the poignancy when you destroy the beast in gratuitous slow motion.
The game does not allow you to stray from its linear path, and the invisible walls that make up 90% of the environments only serve to remind you that you a trapped in a world where violence is necessary and unavoidable. If you don’t kill these animals, who will? You are hardly going to rekindle your brother’s love unless you shoot a bear of the same genus that killed your father. Thankfully, the game is littered with medpacks that the fauna appear to have left lying around, and you are never more than 10 meters from some more ammo somehow. You are safe here. Your brother will love you soon.
This game will challenge your perceptions of what it is to shoot things, and offers no moral compass with which to navigate its controversial messages. If you remain unconvinced, the demo is now available to download on all platforms. Be assured however – whether you like it or not – what you are playing is a modern masterpiece.