Hunting Simulator 2 (Xbox One) REVIEW – Realistic, For Better Or Worse
PC, PS4, XB1, NS
Hunting is a popular pastime around the world, yet it’s also an activity that is highly controversial. After all, it essentially involves mercilessly killing innocent animals for sport and that’s not something many people approve of. For those who want to try their hand at hunting but don’t want to get blood on their hands, Hunting Simulator 2 could offer a decent alternative. But Hunting Simulator 2 doesn’t just have to replicate the real-life activity as closely as possible, it also has to be a better experience than the wide range of other similar games on the market to convince players to choose it, something it fails to do.
As you might have guessed from a game with the word simulator in the title, Hunting Simulator 2 is a game that emphasizes being as true-to-life as possible. This approach can have its upsides and downsides, as the realism might appeal to some players while also putting those who just want some quick and easy fun. Anyone looking for an arcade experience needs to look somewhere else, though, as this game can be painfully slow.
Simply finding an animal is a huge task by itself. You are unlikely to just run across a target while moving around and instead have to put your tracking skills to the test. For the most part, this involves searching the ground for telltale signs, such as trampled grass, animal droppings, or urine. A marker will pop up to show you how fresh the track is and give some clues about the direction of the creature.
Thankfully, you have some help in that respect thanks to a canine companion you can take with you. There are a variety of different dogs, but they all help enormously by sniffing out trails or finding animals on your behalf. Even with their help, tracking still takes an age and quickly becomes dull, as you can follow a trail for more than half an hour before finally seeing the animal. Then you have to repeat the whole process after you’ve shot the target, following the blood that is left behind as they attempt to flee.
A pedantic streak in Hunting Simulator 2 contributes to the slow pace as well. You can only hunt animals that you have bought a license for, which means that you cannot take down every beast you see. I can understand the reasoning behind this choice, as it makes you work towards goals and acts as a sort of progression meter, while also adding to the realism. However, it gets frustrating only coming across animals that you can’t hunt as if the game is taunting while you aimlessly wander around looking for a specific target. Another aspect of the realism getting in the way of fun is that each animal has restrictions on the type of weaponry you can use on them. The end result is that you have to constantly switch between different guns and ammo types to avoid fines.
Some of the developer’s design choices also add more problems. The map is a real issue as it does not allow you to zoom in and out, forcing you to slowly scroll it around in the menu to find where you need to go. The fast-travel is just as infuriating.as it only works after you’ve discovered locations, which might not be much of a.problem if it wasn’t for the fact that the game is so boring. Until you come across a camp, you have to travel across vast distances entirely on foot and that can be a problem when it is so easy to get lost while tracking. Add to that the leisurely pace at which the player’s character walks and getting around each level becomes an absolute chore.
Perhaps the worst problem is the fact that you have to return to your cabin to claim any of your kills after you have bagged them. This just exacerbates the other issues outlined above as you are made to waste even more time by slowly moving across the map to make it back to the cabin. Failure to do so means you don’t get any of the rewards for a successful hunt and you will even get fined for not claiming your kills correctly.
Hunting Simulator 2 features six different locations for you to explore, with two areas each in Colorado, Texas, and Europe. Although the levels take place across three locations, they actually offer quite a lot of variety both in terms of the environment and the animals available to hunt down. The environments themselves look pretty impressive when viewed as sweeping landscapes, but on closer inspection the detail is lost and the limitations of the textures and models become clear. This is more obvious with the animals, which can look fine from a distance but completely unrealistic when you are right on top of them.
Different levels also require you to switch up your approach. The more open and flat spaces allow plenty of opportunities to use long-range weapons as you can see and track animals from far away. However, once you get into more uneven terrain with lots of trees or hills, you have to be far more careful and plan your strategy as you get close to your prey. Essentially, before you even set out, you’ll need to do some homework and think ahead to what not only you are trying to hunt down but also what the environment looks like.
One of the main ways that Hunting Simulator 2 attempts to stand out from the crowd is by giving you a base of operations. Other hunting games I’ve played over the last few years have largely involved being dropped into different environments or levels to carry out certain tasks. That is not the case here, as you have your own base of operations that acts as both headquarters and trophy room.
I found it nice to have somewhere to call home and the hunting lodge helped me to organize my weapons and look through my accomplishments. Meanwhile, a handy laptop provides information on the different licenses you need to hunt animals and where they can be found. The home base is one of the things that Hunting Simulator 2 does well and is a good addition compared to most other hunting games.
A large shooting gallery at the home lodge also allows you to test out weapons, which work surprisingly well given the other gameplay missteps in Hunting Simulator 2. There’s nothing exceptional about the shooting mechanics, although they certainly get the job done and there is quite a wide range of weapons to choose from.
As a hunting game, the actual moments where you finally get a shot off to take down your target should be a dramatic moment. After all, it is the culmination of all your work and the sudden release of the effort you put into finding the target. Unfortunately, shooting an animal is somewhat anticlimactic. You simply zoom in and shoot without anything like slow-motion to add to the intensity of the moment. It all feels a bit flat and doesn’t provide any sort of satisfying payoff.
Hunting Simulator 2 feels very much like a game for a small audience. Most players will simply not be able to put up with the snail’s pace of the action or the frustrating gameplay issues that would test the patience of a saint. It’s entirely possible to spend a dozen hours in this game and only manage to hunt a similar number of animals. Other hunting games tend to put more of the focus on action and gunplay rather than the slow process of tracking animals. By making this title all about the less exciting aspects of hunting, Hunting Simulator 2 acts like more of an anti-hunting propaganda piece than a glorious showcase of the sport.
A copy of Hunting Simulator 2 was provided by PR for the purposes of this review.
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Hunting Simulator 2 focuses on realism over gameplay, creating a frustratingly slow experience that you’ll want to forget.
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