Hunting games have never really been my genre of choice. Like a lot of people, I’ve pumped a few singles into the occasional hunting arcade game while waiting for a table at a local restaurant, but I’ve never gone out and bought a home console version of any of these games. Activision’s latest Dangerous Hunts title changed that for me.
Dangerous Hunts 2011 is the latest release in a long line of titles that span all the way back to the franchise’s first release on the PS2 back in 2003. What makes the 2011 release of Dangerous Hunts unique is the introduction of a new peripheral, the Top Shot Elite. The Top Shot Elite is a rifle that utilizes a sensor bar for tracking where the gun is being aimed. It’s a very solid-feeling peripheral that really completes the hunting experience.
Hunts 2011 has two game modes for you to enjoy. The first is a story mode that has you take on the role of Cole Rainsford. As Cole, you embark upon a series of hunting adventures that are more like survival missions with the host of animals that are out to kill you. The other mode, Gallery Mode, consists of an assortment of brief on-rails hunting adventures with a mix of predators and prey. Additional galleries can be unlocked by earning medals in various galleries and by completing certain tasks in the story mode.
The gaming experience is very different based on the mode that you are playing. Story mode requires that you move your character through a semi-open world as you complete a series of mission objectives. As you move through the level, there are additional weapons that you can pick up to help you survive. Frequent checkpoints allow you to replay portions of the missions without having to start from the beginning of the level. Trust me, you’ll be replaying some portions of the story mode as it gets rather difficult. In gallery mode, you simply have to reload and shoot. In order to earn a medal, you’ll need to practice and learn the level in order to maximize your score. Gallery mode also introduces power-ups, ranging from unlimited ammo to slow motion. Strategic use of these abilities is imperative to earning medals in the higher gallery levels.
The PS3 and 360 versions of the gun are complete controllers that include a wireless sensor bar. The sensor bar is merely to help track where the gun is pointing. The Wii version of the gun is merely a shell, like the Wii Zapper, and it reuses the Wii’s sensor bar. The gun features all of the features of a standard controller, including analog sticks positioned on the handle and the barrel of the gun. A pump action reloads the gun while a button on the barrel handles changing your active weapon. The Top Shot Elite also includes a scope which is used in the story mode to help you find the right path. I reverted to classic mode because I found using the scope to be a pain. Another factor that made the scope a pain was calibration. I was never able to get the gun perfectly calibrated when using the scope despite repeating the calibration over and over.
As someone who passed previous hunting games by, I’ll be sure to give them a closer look in the future. Dangerous Hunts 2011 is a real winner in my book and produced a very solid hunting experience. The one factor which might make this a hard sell for some people is the higher than usual price tag because of the Top Shot Elite.