OK, we’ve just shot a deer in the lung. The lung. It twitches and spasms for ten horrific seconds, then lies still. No motion. No noise. Just the odd poetry of blood on snow, and the silent reverence of a man for his bested quarry. Perhaps, after all, hunting is a noble sport. “AHHH’M SO PUMPED!” blare our speakers. BLAM. “Shot the spine!”
Fortunately, criticisms of the game extend way past our subjective, fluffy middle-class ethics. Hunting (Very Limited) 2008 is sparse and cheap and ugly and presumptive and hollow. It posits hunter-as-rockstar, as demonstrated by its pantomime-dame-faced character’s constant self-congratulation, the sustained attempts at faux-excitement and the gigglesomely inappropriate butt-rock soundtrack. Really, it’s just that inept kid in the school orchestra who’s given the triangle to play so he doesn’t feel left out. It certainly seems to be having a good time, but no one else is.
Yet it presents the sort of freedom we so often cry for from other FPS games. Vast landscapes are yours to roam, accompanied by weapons of your choice and even, should you so wish, a quad bike or a horse. You can’t shoot the horse. We tried. Locating a victim in this Spartan expanse takes great patience. A hasty shot can cost you a trophy. Aggravating the wrong animal can cost you your life. As can running your quad bike into a six-inch shrub.
So the key features are there, but what could have been an exercise in heart-pounding stealth is just dreary and mechanical. Both the thrill of the hunt and the shock of its brutality are trivialised into non-existence by the threadbare graphics engine, anti-physics and tawdry interface. Meat may well be murder, but this is merely theft.