Cabela’s Alaskan Adventures
Activision’s progression with the extensive line of Cabela’s-licensed games has thus far been minimal. Like a hunter lost in the wilderness, the series is without a compass. Thus, it’s floundering helplessly in transition from PC to Xbox 360. Sometimes it seems as though the developers are knee-deep in the makings of a quality product.
And now it seems they’re knee-deep in something entirely different.
In Adventure mode, you begin by choosing your character’s gender. Men have three options for the character’s age, each resulting in different attributes. Women have one. Women apparently don’t go to Alaska or hunt and most definitely wouldn’t play a game about both. This “Create-a-Character” menu is also used to select clothing, hair style, etc. Each variable is limited to only a few options. For hair, the game gives you the option to sport an afro, wear a map, part your hair, or go bald. No Mohawks. Same goes for the characters of the feminine variety. To make this feature even more trivial is the fact that you don’t even see your character throughout the majority of the game. Any sort of navigation or maneuvering of your character is in the first person. However, spin fishing and dog sledding receive the third person treatment.
After you’re dropped off by a plane, the first “mission” acts as a tutorial to what follows. The controls seem oddly mapped-out. Maneuvering an unresponsive character can get annoying, especially once you realize it’s not that you suck at the game, it’s that the game sucks at being a game. During tutorials, my primitive instincts send me exploring the first in-game area. In Alaskan Adventure’s case, I found myself attempting to hop over the first ground-level log within seconds. What AA loses out on in quality, it makes up for with a lot of invisible walls. Sustaining the illusion that this game is expansive is truly an impressive feat.
It’s unlikely you’d want to explore the rolling hills, underlying flatlands and particularly impressive looking waters of the Alaskan tundra, anyway.
Consider it a lot of time saved. One of your character’s attributes is Endurance. After five or six seconds of movement (whether it be walking or running), the hunter is winded. The hunting grounds are somewhat expansive. It would be problematic, if there weren’t transportation. There are Trucks and ATVs positioned at the starting-point of some parks. The driving control is some of the worst I’ve experienced. Every vehicle crawls snail-like, reaching a maximum speed of 10 mph.
When the targets are abundant the game is at its best. Hunting different types of bears was my personal highlight. I had three of my four trophy-bears required for a specific tag, and had just got the last one in his “rump” as indicated by my depressing score card for the said kill, and when I turned around, there was a bear right behind me, mid-attack. It caused me to panic and my character died - causing me to start the hunt over - but it was highly entertaining nonetheless.
There are multiple regions patterned by themes in their weather and climate. Each region has an outpost plotted squarely in the middle with branching paths leading to the various hunting areas. To kill an animal, you’ll need tags. Otherwise, the game will dock you for killing animals before carrying a piece of paper that tells you to. Because the regions change with climate and animals are climate specific, you’ll end up killing animals that look exactly like your intended target, but are something entirely different. Or maybe you’ll take ten male white hares, when all you need is a male and female white hare. It’s possible to trace the tracks of an animal, if you can follow that well and position yourself just right. From my experience, this was usually followed by falling short on the chase due to lack of endurance.
The second and last option for gameplay is Open Season. It’s essentially player-chosen hunting. You choose the level, select the tags which apply, and wander into the wilderness – then you turn off the 360.
Three out of ten
- Good gun selection.
- The habitats all seem likely/believable for the residing animals.
- Dog sledding.
- Higher difficulties subtract gameplay options, rather than increasing the actual difficulty.
- There have been too many mediocre entries in this series. Let's see a finely polished and well developed Cabela's title, all ready!