Oct 19, 2007
If the thought of getting up early, intentionally smelling like buck urine and sitting in one spot for hours waiting for something to shoot isn't entirely foreign, then Cabela's Trophy Bucks might seem interesting to you. Seem interesting.
In this single-player, single mode, first-person shooting game, you are plopped in the middle of a prime hunting spot right as the best game (in this case, animals) are passing through or where the best fowl have decided to nest. In each of the game's 96, 2- to 3-minute levels, you try to make the best kills using your inventory of Cabela's brand weapons and gear.
Ah, marketing at its most obvious. Unfortunately, it doesn't really work in anyone's favor since you really only see the brand name on the game box and the game really isn't very good.
First, the 3D environments offer inappropriately limited mobility. When you try to move to a better position and quickly pick off a few more fowl for extra points, random rocks in your path may force you into a standstill - yet you can pass (soundlessly, mind you) through most trees and bushes. Even the dog you are supposed to be able to send out to scare up hiding birds will run the wrong direction or, even worse, get glitched into running in an endless circle through environmental objects.
Selecting guns, gears and bows is an unwieldy process of pausing the game and scrolling through the same menu at the beginning of each level and every time you want to switch between animal calls and weapons.
Also, the so-called minigames are actually in-game moments when you use gear, immediately launching an imprecise version of the two-touch slidebar scheme used in many sports games. Trophy Bucks screams for some vivisecting so that arcade rounds, minigames and competitions can be played at your leisure instead of a single, giant mode with unrepeatable levels.
Trophy Bucks' few saving graces are that the shooting is pretty straightforward and works pretty well and the powerups make the game a bit more fun. You can land some impossibly distant shots, especially when heat vision or frozen animal powerups are activated.
Those powerups also give the game more of an arcade feel (not as well as a lightgun would have), removing pretty much all aspects of realism and most of the appeal to real hunters, which is most likely the opposite intention of the game makers. Shoot, you don't even have a virtual trophy room where you can view the heads or stuffed versions of your latest kills.
If you've played any other first-person shooter for more than a week, you can easily cruise through this game in about 4 hours and not feel any satisfaction of a good day's hunt.
This is a game you should get free when you buy a bright orange hunting hat. It might offer a brief, quick killin' fix for some hunter-gamers, but won't offer much in terms of videogaming satisfaction, delicious meat or hours of fresh air.