Estimated Price: $24.99
Ten miles in any direction from my front door. That is the maximum distance I have to go to find a great place to hunt deer. Okay, so I am not a hunter myself, as I would prefer to take a picture of the deer than shoot one. But a game titled “Deer Hunter” sounded really interesting, so I had to try it out.
Looking at the pictures on the box, I figured this would be a really fun game. Walk around the woods, shoot some digital deer, call it a day. Besides, I have read that Deer Hunter was one of the most popular games last year on the PC. That, to me, would suggest a game rich in graphics, realism, and game play. Why else would a game sell so well? Could thousands of PC users be wrong? (That was a rhetorical question; after all, they did buy a PC rather than a Mac…)
The Hard Truth
Yes, thousands of PC game buyers were wrong. Deer Hunter is lacking in most of the categories that makes a game a winner. The graphics are very lifelike, true. But there’s no interaction with the scenery. For example, if you’re sitting in a tree stand and face the tree, you can shoot your gun or bow. That’s nice, but wouldn’t it have been better if as a result of that you could see and hear a huge chunk of the tree get blown away from the force of the blast? Or you see your arrow strike and penetrate the tree?
From the Map View, you can choose different locations of the woods you are in to hunt. To do this, you point and click to the new location. However, in the actual game play area, the terrain doesn’t look much different.
You can’t walk around in the game play area, either. Let’s pretend you see a deer. You take your shot. You miss. Want to run after that deer? Sorry, not an option. No tramping through the woods allowed.
During game play, you hear the voice of your character. From time to time, he may say something like “Hmm… It’s pretty windy out here” or “Maybe I’d have better luck someplace else.” Wow, thanks, Mr. Obvious. And hey, perhaps if you stopped talking and making all that racket, a deer might just show up!
The background noises are also meant to lend a touch of realism to the game. It does, for about an hour into it. Then it just becomes irritating. It appears that the noise in each hunting area is a three minute loop of the same sounds. After a while, I could time when that stupid crow would make his “Caw-Caw” sound. A bubbling brook or stream is also heard in the Arkansas Autumn Woodlands, but after five minutes, the sound just made me want to get up and use the bathroom…
As I said, there is no interaction with your surrounding area. I would think that if I let a shotgun blast rip, most of the wildlife in close proximity would scurry away. But no, two seconds after my blast, there goes that “Caw-Caw” again. Hey, this game would be worth the price alone if I could just shoot that damn crow!
The Hunting Grounds
You have four choices for hunting areas. They are the Target Range, Arkansas Autumn Woodlands, Colorado Alpine Meadows, and Indiana Winter. Other than the scenery and background noises, I found nothing different at all in any of these choices. Of course, you don’t hunt at the Target Range. You’re there to practice your marksmanship.
You also have some choices for game play. You can hunt with a rifle, shotgun, or bow. The rifle gives you a scope, but you’re limited to only one shot at a time and a long reload time. The shotgun has no scope, but you can reload much more quickly. The bow is nice and quiet, and you can actually see the arrow on the fly. But from my experience, none really stands out as a better choice that the others. In the practice range, I was just as good shooting the bow as I was the rifle or shotgun.
You can also select to use a tree stand, which gives you a higher view of the target area. You’re also equipped with a “call” horn to attract deer, a deer antler “rattle” for the same purpose, and a binoculars to get a closer view of whatever it is you’re trying to see. (You need it, because there are times where you may think you’re firing at a deer, but a look through the binoculars reveals the ‘deer’ is really just a clump of trees fifty yards away!) Binocular use, however, makes whatever you’re looking appear blocky and pixelated. The lifelike quality of this game’s graphics goes right out the window when you use the binoculars.
Slow and boring…
That pretty much describes my attitude toward this game. While I didn’t expect to kill a buck in the first five minutes of game play, I did think I would at least see one after hours of sitting in front of my monitor. But it was not to be. It’s not because I lack patience (I’m the father of a four year old girl, after all!), but this game was simply too boring to play for a long time with nothing happening. “Maybe I’d have better luck someplace else,” my hunter would say. “No, you think?” I would answer sarcastically. But I was determined to give this game a fair review, and not one merely based on my first few times playing it.
Three days later, and about four hours of game play, still no deer. It was at this point that I decided to use the cheat codes I had found online, just to see what a deer looks like, and what happens when I shoot one. While the cheat codes did work, they still didn’t help me bag a deer. sigh…
For the record, I have actually hunted deer before. It was years ago, and I remember waking up very early in the morning and trekking through the snow here in the woods of central Michigan. It was cold, I was tired, but there was an excitement to it. I was out there, and we were tracking a buck. We knew that any minute we might see it. Pumping with adrenaline, we continued on patiently, hoping we would return home with a trophy, or at least a story to tell. That day, the deer evaded our best efforts. In the last few days, his digital brethren did the same thing. So in that respect, Deer Hunter is very realistic.
If you like spending countless hours in front of your computer looking at the same scenery, waiting for something to happen, then this game is for you. And if you like limited game play with annoying sounds, this game is for you. But if you like excitement and a fun challenge, this game is not for you.
MacMice Rating: 1