It’s hard for us Brits to fully understand the appeal of big game hunting; the powers that be in our country have taken measures to ensure that such pastimes reside well outside of the law. However, in the US, the sport of shooting defenceless and unsuspecting animals for nothing more than personal satisfaction is very much alive and well, which is why we have digital replications like Deer Hunter 3D.
The game is a score-based challenge where you enter various locations and have to dispatch a certain number of animals. Each level has a score objective, which you must achieve with your limited number of kills.
Early on in the game, hitting this target is relatively easy, and you can quite easily just shoot the first selection of beasts you come across and pass the score goal effortlessly. However, on later stages you need to get picky and only take down the largest (and therefore most valuable) targets. Just like the real thing, it becomes a waiting game, requiring reserves of patience and a steady aim.
When you’re not in a shooting situation the game displays a map of the territory, with your character represented as a glowing blue dot. As you move around the map, you’ll notice that animal tracks appear – this denotes that you’ve made visual contact with a possible target.
Selecting the target drops you into the 3D shooting mode, where you can assess the size of the animal and decide whether or not you’re going to take it down.
The act of killing the animal – which isn’t limited to just being a deer, as the game features other creatures, such as moose and even squirrels – is handled very slickly. Using the touch screen controls you can move your crosshairs around to get a better idea of your environment.
Tapping the scope icon in the bottom-left corner of the screen allows you to zoom in, and slider controls let you adjust the scope for even more magnification.
Just as would be the case in real life, your aim isn’t entirely static; your character’s breathing and slight body movement cause the crosshairs to glide around, but you can steady the aim for a limited period of time using a special button.
When you’re confident you’ve obtained the perfect aim, tapping anywhere on the screen pulls the trigger. Head shots are worth big points, but are naturally harder to successfully pull off. Shots to the body will take down your animal effectively for less points, but beware of hitting a limb, as this rarely results in a clean kill.
Progression through the game not only unlocks other locations but also grants the player new weapons (such as an AK47 and crossbow) and items (such a scent reducer, which masks your smell and allows you to get closer to more perceptive prey).
Despite the questionable nature of the subject matter, there’s no denying that Deer Hunter 3D is a lot of fun, and presents a real challenge. Completing the game is no easy task, and there are unlockable achievements to keep you interested. Sadly, these achievements aren’t tied into any kind of social gaming network – like OpenFeint – but hopefully Glu will remedy this in a future update.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Deer Hunter 3D boasts some really impressive visuals. The actual animals themselves aren’t particularly detailed, but the habitats in which they live most certainly are. Often, when you enter a targeting situation, it’s tempting to just wait a few seconds to soak in the glorious graphics.
Of course, a massive barrier to entry for Deer Hunter 3D is the subject matter, which many people will probably find distasteful. It’s worth mentioning that while the game shows the death animation of each animal you kill, there’s no blood or gore involved. It’s handled about as tastefully as you could possibly expect.
Deer Hunter 3D isn’t a cheap game – it currently retails for over £3 – but it is a quality one. If you’re looking for an action title that rewards your skill and patience as well as satisfying your urge for slaughter, then this is it.