Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2013: Fear the Fearmaster

November 14, 2012

Early last year I had the pleasure of reviewing Dangerous Hunts 2011, which changed the face of the hunting genre by including an actually gun peripheral that used IR technology, like the Wii Remote, to create a point-and-shoot experience similar to many hunting arcade games. Cabela’s and Activision are back with Dangerous Hunts 2013, and they are pushing the envelope once again, something that Activision is doing more of lately.

Before we dig into the gameplay differences, let’s talk about the most tangible change for 2013, the Fearmaster. Not satisfied with an arcade like experience in the home, Activision has made some significant changes to the previous peripheral, the Top Shot Elite, and delivered us a new one called the Fearmaster. The Fearmaster replaces the pump action reload mechanism with a push button reload, ditches the telescoping stock, and adds two heart rate sensors.

You heard me, two heart rate sensors. Think shiny metal contacts from the treadmill at the gym. More on the sensors a bit later. The form factor of the gun itself doesn’t change the experience all that much, but I did prefer it to the Top Shot Elite. The placement of the D-pad is a little odd being on the top of the gun barrel though. I’d have preferred it in a place where I could get to it with my left thumb.

Dangerous Hunts 2013 picks up the story a decade after 2011, and brings the Rainsford brothers back together and continues on through the story mode. I wasn’t expecting a particularly engaging story line in hunting games, but Activision has done a solid job again of creating a solid plot to keep you playing. That said, the real reason I play these games is the shooting galleries and the new Maneater mode.

Maneater places you and a friend into a local horde-style survival mode where you fend off endless waves of predators that leverage the game’s new AI and has them hunting in packs, stalking you, and even using distractions to ambush you. It’s a pretty intensive experience, which is where those heart rate sensors come in.

While hunting your prey, the heart rate sensors measure your stress level and the game even teaches you some breathing exercises to steady your hand. If your stress level is too high, things get blurry. Things clear up the more calm you are. It’s an incredible feature that Activision built, and it adds a level of difficulty that will be too much for some gamers. Luckily you can switch back to a regular controller or even the previous Top Shot Elite if that’s your preference.

Shooting galleries weren’t all that much different over the previous version as you are guided on rails through a series of running animals. Score enough points before coming to the next gate and you move on, fail and you get to replay a portion of the level. Instead of just hunting prey, you’ll have the option of running through areas heavy with predators if you prefer that type of experience.

In all, Activision took hunting to the next level with some of the features and the new Fearmaster rifle. It won’t be for everyone, but folks that enjoy a solid hunting experience will love the new features for 2013.

Pros: Fearmaster gun, new Maneater mode
Cons: Steep price due to peripheral, not everyone will enjoy the heart rate sensors

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.