Hunting Simulation games are few and far between on current gen, with Cabela’s African Adventure being the only other title that springs to mind. Hunting Simulator from Neopica and Bigben Interactive aims to fill the void with realistic physics and a vast amount of hunting areas to explore, 12 of them to be exact, and no less than 111 missions for you to complete.
Missions have you hunting specific animals and often have side missions that require you to kill from certain distances or target a specific part of the animal (head, lung and heart shots). you will spawn in to the area in a random location and have a set amount of time to complete the main mission, tracking down your targets requires spotting ‘trails’, these are marked with animal faeces and inspecting them will highlight animal tracks that you can follow, a text box will also pop up on screen stating what animal the tracks belong to, how old they are and which direction they were travelling in.
It’s not as straight forward as find and kill, as all the animals in game have the ability to see, smell and hear you, looking down scope at an animal will show an alertness meter for all three senses, allowing these to rise to the point where they turn red means the animal is fully aware of you and will run. The game does feature a secondary alert meter that will display as a single bar in the direction of an animal that has started to detect you and will turn into a solid arrow once they do. It’s a good feature in the game but doesn’t seem to work as consistently as it should, at times you can be almost nose to nose with an animal before it bolts, and other times you can be hundreds of meters away, lying still in the grass, the other side of a hill and animals will be alerted. Often a cause of frustration especially when you’ve waited a fair few minutes and have used scent killer spray and you get an onscreen prompt telling you most of the animals are fleeing the area.
Another negative is the collision between animals and trees, while sometimes it’s an advantage that fleeing animals seem to collide with trees and get stuck, it does take away from the immersion of the game. For me, by far the best missions are the waterfowl ones. during these you’re restricted to the side of a huge lake and have flocks of various ducks and geese to shoot. You can also use ‘callers’ to entice them to fly in your direction and even land in the water making them the proverbial ‘sitting ducks’. I’ve mentioned a handful of the accessories you can have in your load out already, and there’s a fair few of them in the game, 17 firearms and around 50 accessories, the majority of which you have to unlock by completing missions, there’s rifles, shotguns, bows and crossbows. Different scopes with varying zooms and cross hairs, lots of different animal callers that can be used to draw animals to your location or get a call back to locate an animal in the distance. There’s even urine spray to lure animals to your location too. Finally there’s binoculars, range finders and a drone that ca be used to scout ahead.
The open world mission areas are fairly large, and differ from deserts, forests and snowy mountains. While there’s often some fairly nice views, there’s not much else to them other than hunting. Some points of interest would have been a nice addition, and maybe some form of danger, such as the predators within the game possibly attacking the player, unfortunately bears, pumas, wolves and other predatory animals turn and run in fear much the same as rabbits and deer.
I said above that the game does offer up some fairly nice views, however, the graphical performance is rather poor and shows when on the move, you’ll often see trees and bushes popping up with some happening fairly close by, quite a distraction and again takes away from the immersion of the game. There’s not much to talk about with regards to the audio. each area has its own ambient sound with wind rain etc. and the animal calls sound pretty spot on. Other game modes in Hunting Simulator include single player free hunt in which you have free reign to hunt in the areas you’ve unlocked in the campaign mode. There’s also a 4 player multiplayer mode in which you have missions to complete the same as in single player. The omission of a free hunt online is a strange one, as I personally would prefer that than have to keep setting up missions once they’ve ended.