By: Jeff Cater
Cabela’s African Adventures is the latest attempt by Fun Labs and Activision to attract the hunting crowd to their home consoles. Will hunting hyenas and elephants on the African plains breathe new life into Cabela’s line of hunting titles? Let’s step into the gruff boots of a man named Mason, who is charged with marching around Africa in order to dispatch a wide breadth of animals, to find out.
Holy crap, this game is absolutely uncomfortable to play. It seems like the design team took all of the features from a refined third-person shooter and said “Let’s just screw everything up, k?” First, the aiming is incredibly sloppy, and movement is sluggish and frustratingly inaccurate. Reloading, done with a face button, can be performed in the middle of an evasive roll, but that seems to be the only real favor the devs did for us.
Driving across the plains is frighteningly bad. A slight press of the gas pedal sends you rocketing forward (or backward), and don’t even think about turning the vehicle unless you don’t really want to get to your destination — Mason’s jeep has a bad, bad case of over and under steering.
Mason walks stiffly across the terrain and through bushes and brush that doesn’t react to his presence whatsoever. There’s an ample amount of pop-in as well, to the point where animals, once visible in the distance, become shrouded by bushes in an instant. The animals aren’t even well animated, which is surprising since the Cabela’s franchise usually gets that part right.
The framerate of African Adventures is more schizophrenic than the game design itself; turning to aim at an escaping animal can cause inexplicable chugs in performance. Driving your truck also just completely destroys the framerate for some reason, so you’re much better off walking if you can tolerate it.
Masons gruff voice is alright to listen to, and it fits his over-the-top persona because he looks and sounds like he’s an extra from Over the Top. The plains of Africa are also a pretty barren aural experience; anything beyond some chirping birds or faint roars in the distance would have helped out immensely here.
Cabela’s has usually done a decent job of producing titles that try to actually convey the experience of hunting, but with African Adventures it’s a completely different story. Now, rather than meandering through the woods looking for signs of your target like footprints, tree rubbings or droppings, you simply walk up to a glowing blue marker and begin to unload on waves and waves of animals.
Once you’re finished, there’s no skinning or trophy taking, you just move on to the next marker. There aren’t even any animals just roaming around in the wild, you must activate a hunt area to trigger their apperance. That’s bullshit.
It seems that Activision tried to push the series a bit closer to the more action-oriented games in their repertoire (see Call of Duty), but it’s simply the wrong move. People play Cabela’s titles for the hunting simulation experience, not to blast away waves and waves of hyenas with nothing to show for it.
Sure, you can level up different powers like being able to fire off three shots in a row (WOW!), but the incentive to do so just isn’t there.
Well, someone indeed figured out how to do everything wrong in a game. I can only hope we never see a game like Cabela’s African Adventures ever again — at least not with the “adventure” moniker attached given there is zero adventure to be had.