Recently, I’d been craving a solid hunting experience that I can play from my living room. Finding one turned out to be a much more difficult task than I originally envisioned. Since the rather simplistic gameplay of the original 1997 Deer Hunter game unexpectedly became a best seller, the actual gameplay of hunting games has evolved quite slowly with many of them becoming bargain titles and cash grabs (it would be years before the games even allowed you to move around in the first person perspective). On top of that, reviewers for such games typically feel the need to adjust scores according to their moral bias, so it can be difficult to really tell which games stand out above the others. Finally, I came across Emote Games’ The Hunter; a relatively free game with some decent paid content that really raises the bar for what a hunting game should be like.
Note though, that I spent four hours in the game just walking around and tracking before I even saw a deer, and then took one shot, nabbed one kill, and that was the most action I saw all night; which is more or less exactly what I was looking for, but if you’re not into the actual hunting experience this probably doesn’t have a fast enough pace for you.
The graphics are by far some of the best I’ve ever seen. Maybe not quite Crysis or FarCry 2, but it has some brilliant compression that allows it to run on mid range computers with a bunch of different display options to compensate. The only real downside is that the weapon and equipment models are utter shit and constantly contrast with the beautiful scenery, which can really take you out of the moment. Gameplay is solid; the deer react very realistically for the most part (minus this one glitch I found where the dumb fucker tried to run away into the ocean, but I think that was an isolated incident). The pricing system is kind of dumb but if you’re enjoying the game you probably won’t mind dropping a few bucks on it. Each account gets 30 free bullets (which is enough to last you several hours), and you can make as many accounts as you want but if you wanna keep leveling up you’ll eventually need to buy ammo (typically ten cents a bullet), and you can buy liscences to hunt animals other than mule deer for a certain period of time. Registering for an account is a very good deal at 15 dollars considering all that you get out of it (which I believe is unlimited ammo, all licenses, and 2 free guns), but you have to commit to three months at a time.
The best part of the game, naturally, is actually spotting, tracking, and eventually killing the animals. It’s nearly impossible to get close to a deer without using your binoculars before hand. After that, it’s a long, slow crawl to their position, switching back and forth to your binoculars to keep an eye on them. Once you’re close enough to shoot, you’re likely still really far away, so there’s no quick scoping or anything like that. You really need to take the time to line up a good, accurate shot, or you waste the bullet and likely lose the deer. Also, inhumane kills are not rewarded, so if it’s not a lung, heart, or head shot you’ll be chastised. Once you do manage to nail the shot, it’s a really great feeling, and the deer will usually try to run away for a short time before collapsing. Then, you have to go to the place where you shot him and follow the trail of blood to his final resting place to confirm the kill. If you merely injure the deer, you may find them collapsed and struggling on the ground and have to put them out of their misery. They usually get further and are harder to find when this happens and you get bitched out by some guy if you don’t find them. Naturally, there is no reward for this, just a nice bit of realism.
All in all, the free account is definitely worth it, and the prices aren’t too steep if you want to get a little more out of the game. You do have to be into hunting though. This is a lot of sitting around, being quiet, and waiting, so it’s definitely not your typical FPS, but it does the hunting thing really, really well.
You can download The Hunter from the official website at http://www.thehunter.com