IGN Review of Cabela's Outdoor Adventures 2010
Cabela seems to have picked up the pace.
A common complaint about several previous installments in the long-running Cabela's series of hunting and fishing sims is that they got their simulations a little too right -- they were frequently focused on offering as accurate a re-creation of the hunting experience as possible, and that translated into some really slow gameplay. After all, if you go out hunting for real, you have to spend hours preparing, then making your way out into the wild, then waiting and waiting and waiting for the chance to take, maybe, a single good shot.
This latest Cabela's outing picks up the pace, though, and presents the highest-energy moments of tracking, shooting and taking home your trophy animals in more rapid succession, without so much standing around and doing nothing. Cabela's Outdoor Adventures is the name this time -- which could be confusing, since that same title was used for a multi-platform release just a few years ago that shipped to PS2, GameCube and Xbox. This one's all new, though, and is available for PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii.
Flushing pheasants and taking them out of the sky is up first, as you dash through the underbrush, send a flock flying and swivel your sights upward to squeeze off a few fast shots.
No sooner have you met your quota, then, that your guide waves you a few yards over -- he's sighted a small herd of whitetail deer. You creep into position, find the right angle and take out the 10-point buck in their midst with a perfect shot to his vitals.
Then, after that, it looks like there's more tracks on the ground. And that's all in just the opening minutes.
Cabela's Outdoor Adventures keeps you moving from one moment to the next, not unlike modern first-person shooters and their systems of successive checkpoints. Checkpoints are used here, too, so if you botch a shot and a particular target gets away, you can rewind things and go for it again from the last automatic save point you passed. It's a faster, more fun take on traditional video game hunting, and as a core concept the idea of moving from one critical moment to the next, one after another, works well.
Not every element in this Cabela's outing works quite as well as that core concept, though. There are a few annoyances that crop up and seek to steal away any fun you're having -- irksome design choices that slow down the otherwise rapid pace.
Like invisible walls. As you progress through Cabela's story mode campaign, you'll get calls from your hunting guide through your Garmin to tell you where to move to next within some fairly large, free-roaming hunting grounds. You can even pull up the Garmin map and see your current position relative to where you need to be, and start walking that way.
Until you hit a wall. There are frequently times when you'll be angling directly toward the waypoint map marker on your Garmin device and you'll just be stopped mid-stride by nothing in particular -- it's not an impassable cliff or river or anything in your way, it's just an invisible wall. Whereas you'd be able to take a more direct route on foot if this were actually taking place in the real world, Cabela's often forces you to backtrack, wind around and discover the small little paths that have been pre-programmed to be actually traversable by your hunter.
Then there's the fishing. This release is being marketed as a joint hunting and fishing game design, which is apparently still a rarity in the industry -- most games focus on just one or the other. This one should have done that too, though, because the fishing portions here are nowhere near as compelling as when you're wielding the big guns.
It's basically a mini-game -- you troll your little johnboat to pre-determined hot spots in a lake, set down a buoy, back off from said buoy and cast out your line. The fish seem to always grab at your bait right away, so there's no real challenge involved. And the gameplay to accomplish each cast is all just following a formula of sequential button presses -- it's boring.
Last up, the control. This is the Wii edition's stand-out paragraph, since Cabela's PlayStation and Xbox builds keep things traditional, of course. But the Wii's motion controls come into play in a negative way in that same fishing mini-game -- you have to cycle your left hand around holding the Nunchuk to activate the reel, and that just gets tiresome. Making it even less fun.
That's counterbalanced by some generally good use of the Wii Remote elsewhere, though, in aiming your guns and bows with IR pointing in the hunting portions -- you're not going to get the tight reticule handling of something like The Conduit, but it's workable and a lock-on option helps out too. There's also included support for the Wii Zapper peripheral, as well as Cabela's own Zapper-like plastic rifle shell. You don't see that a lot any more, so it's a nice addition.
©2009-10-13, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved