Bow hunting takes extra patience, and is extra rewarding.
But I’m afraid we’ve hit the high point. There is so much wrong with this game that the average gamer - and even the average hunter - is going to shy away from. First of all, the hunts are so linear it’s impossible to get lost or to fail, and tracking literally consists of activating a “detective mode” so see where the nearest set of tracks is. Second, the game is very picky about only letting you carry two carefully selected guns...but when a predator jumps out at you, your bolt action rifle suddenly can fire in rapid succession and without reloading. So much for being even slightly realistic.
And then there’s my biggest gripe of all: the co-op Shooting Galleries. Oh, man, the Shooting Galleries...
Shooting Galleries are a four-player competitive or co-op mode. Each person gets a reticule with a little ammo indicator. You can swap from rifle to shotgun and back again freely. Each area is an on-rails segment. The object? Kill everything that moves.
I don’t get offended by video games. But I have to challenge the bone-headed decision that someone made on this. Why - after carefully crafting animal models and animations so that the hunting experience was as realistic as a studio could feebly manage - would anyone ever think it was okay to make a mode where the sole purpose was to blast critters and leave them lying around? Granted, the carcasses disappear after several seconds, but you get the point. I don’t mind my toddlers watching me “stalk” an elk (stalking in this game is literally crouching and making a beeline for a shooter’s blind), taking aim, and firing. It may seem a bit morbid but in our family hunting is a natural thing. But there’s no way I’d let them see Mommy and Daddy blasting apart the countryside and dropping every animal in sight for no reason. This isn’t supposed to be a parody game, it’s supposed to be a hunting game - and to me that should entail the respect for nature that a true hunter has, even if the rest of the game is a bit lame.
"Oh, how pretty... Kill it!" This might make a good frat party game mode. Otherwise...just...no.
What I’ve wound up with is a game that is very selectively fun. Thankfully I can re-hunt the areas that were the most satisfactory, and can even upload pictures of my trophies to Facebook. The game cuts a lot of corners when it comes to simulating a real outdoor experience, but when it comes down to choosing a vantage point and taking the perfect shot it can be a rewarding gameplay session. All I have to do is avoid the Shooting Galleries and the Top Shot peripheral, and I can actually enjoy Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012 quite a bit.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
The Co-Op Experience: Four players can work together for high scores in the shooting gallery game modes.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.