Long Shots And Lung Shots

By Tim Stone on September 13th, 2009 at 11:06 am.

Autumn wouldn’t be autumn in the Stone household without a spot of digital deer slaying. The following is a piece I penned a few years back for PC Gamer UK on the history and appeal of gaming’s least fashionable genre.

Throw a couple of logs onto the fire, pour yourself a glass of something warming, and come sit down here next to me. Comfortable? Splendid. Today I want to tell you about my penchant for a pariah genre. Today I want to talk of hunting simulations, a genus of games that’s been mauled, mocked, and lately, studiously ignored by British game critics.

The Bambi jokes and the barracking began back in 1998. That was the year Deer Hunter, a budget oddity built in three hectic months by a tiny team at Sunstorm Interactive, bounded straight to the top of the US charts. With the exception of ‘real-time mobility’ (walking would be added in the sequel) everything that came to define the genre was present from the start. Hunters chose gear and weapons, selected a tract of wilderness, then got down to the delicate business of locating, luring and liquidating virtual venison. Compared to the FPSs of the period it was rather pedestrian, rather ugly entertainment . You had to step back a few paces to appreciate the originality. While everyone else was doing ‘frantic’ and ‘fantastical’ Sunstorm had gone ‘stealthy’, ‘slow’ and ‘realistic’.

Unsurprisingly, given DH’s runaway success and relatively simple components, it was soon joined on US shelves by a herd of doppelgangers. Companies connected with rural sport milked the new genre mercilessly. Browning, Remington, Buckmasters, Field & Stream, TNN and Cabela all had their names blazoned across game lids by the end of 1999. Mainstream publishers were just as eager. Though big guns like EA, Activision and Sierra tended to stick with the tried-and-tested DH theme, a few smaller outfits gamely experimented with alternative quarries and settings. Punters bored of stalking hoofed prey, soon had the chance to bag ducks, turkeys and pheasants, and put their virtual lives on the line tracking creatures that growled, gored, and fought back.

To say there was a lot of dross in-amongst the initial bumper crop of hunting recreations would be a bit like saying there was a lot of pony poo in the New Forest. For a while it was hard to see the wood from the trees. The situation began to change in the early Noughties. By 2002 most of the gadflies had moved on to greener pastures – the flood of new hunting games had become a trickle. By 2004 a single new game a year was the norm. The second-half of the decade would have been bleak for bedroom backwoodsmen had it not been for a small reservoir of – yes, I think I can use the word – hunt sim classics. Editor-supported titles like Deer Hunter: The 2005 Season, Trophy Hunter 2003, and Hunting Unlimited 3 retained their appeal, and, to this day, still offer plenty of challenge, atmosphere and tension.

That last quality is a by-product of one of the most distinctive and disorientating features of this genre: the shyness of the slayees. In the ‘free hunt’ modes common to most sims, it’s not unusual to go 20 or 30 minutes without seeing hide-nor-hair of prey. These games might stick rifles in your hand and present the world FPS-fashion but their closest relations are not shooters, they’re submarine sims like Silent Hunter. As in SH3, patience and vigilance is everything. All the waiting, the watching, and the wandering lends that moment when you finally spot a prize immense significant. The surge of nervous excitement you get when you finally sight some big old buck emerging from the undergrowth is precious and – dare I say it – faintly primeval.

U-boat sims aren’t usually criticized for being unfair, despite the fact their main prey species – the red-bellied freighter – are soft, peaceable beasts. The likes of DH2005 on the other hand, frequently get it in the neck for being inequitable. Unsympathetic reviewers seem to relish pointing-out that digital deer are ‘defenceless’ as if that fact alone completely invalidated the genre. What’s rarely mentioned is that most weaponless whitetails are much harder to hurt than most in-game Nazis, zombies or tangos. Well-coded deer can smell lynx (and Lynx) at two hundred paces, they don’t stand where they’re told to, and they don’t stick around when the bullets start buzzing. Sure, they can’t harm you, but what does death really mean in the average FPS? A quickload, a tweaked tactic and you’re on your way again. Knowing you might have to spend twenty minutes re-stalking a spooked stag (that’s assuming you ever find it again) beads the brow every bit as effectively as the prospect of an inconsequential demise.

Read between the lines of many scathing hunt sim reviews and you’ll find loathing of hunting itself. While I’m neither passionately pro or ardently anti- bloodsports I wouldn’t dream of claiming there’s no moral overlap at all. Many a time I’ve pointed my rifle at a distant doe only to notice a dappled fawn trotting along behind it. In DH2005 the bag limit (the number and type of animals you can kill during a single hunt) usually includes females, but that doesn’t make it any easier to orphan sweet little Dainty Hooves or Bracken Junior. There’s other targets I can’t bring myself to slay too. The lions and the elephants that roam across HU3′s Namibian map, and the bears and cougars that wander TH2003′s Rocky Mountain wildernesses might be just amalgams of textured polygons, but there’s still something disturbing about gunning them down. Maybe there’d be less heart-searching if the devs had couched the killing differently. In most hunting titles we wear the unsympathetic Timberlands of a recreational hunter – a person who kills for kicks and trophies. If we were shooting deer to feed frontier families, thin oversized herds, or protect forestry or crops, triggers might squeeze a mite easier. Deer Hunter:1639  anyone?

For every ethical line the virtual hunter draws for himself in the pine needles there’s usually at least one scribed by the game designers. All of the titles discussed here punish hunt crimes to some extent. Down one of the soaring red-tailed hawks in DH2005 and you get a verbal warning for harming ‘a national treasure’ and – more importantly – lose all trophies for that hunt. Shoot a swimming deer in TH2003 and you get a similar rap across the knuckles. Activision’s long-running but less-than-brilliant Cabela series has grown increasingly intolerant over the years. In Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2006 – one of the last PC hunting title to get a high-street release in the UK – you catch hell for everything from nudging animals with your quad bike, to firing weapons too late or too early in the day. The constant nagging would be easier to take if the in-game wardens didn’t also gleefully encourage handgun hunting.

In real-life, using a revolver to drop deer will get you arrested most everywhere. In hunt sims, leaving the bolt-action and the telescopic sights back at the cabin and opting for something a little more primitive – a handgun, shotgun bow, or flintlock – is often one of the most rewarding ways to play. Even with gun shake, bullet drop, and other ballistic irritants modelled, hunting with scoped rifles can start to feel rather clinical after a while. The shorter ranges, reduced stopping power, and longer reload times of the weirder weapons make things far more interesting. With a crossbow or 19th Century cavalry Colt in your hands you know you can’t just heart-shot every unsuspecting ungulate from half a mile away. You must carefully creep closer (staying downwind, naturally) or entice the quarry toward you with musky chemical attractants and alarmingly phallic calling devices.

There’s something deliciously dastardly about luring something furry to its doom. Seeing a far-off stag stop and turn its head on hearing a fake doe call or a rattled pair of antlers makes my inner Wiley Coyote chuckle every time. It’s a shame there isn’t more skill involved though. The chance of making an effective call tends to be determined by an RPG-style stat rather than the outcome of an ingenious mini-game. I’m still waiting for the hunt sim that does something really inventive with sonic seduction.

Actually, there was one that had a good stab. DH’s long-dead sister series, the delightfully eccentric Bird Hunter, had a call system that had to be seen – or rather heard – to be believed. To lure ducks onto the water in front of your blind, not only did you have to learn how to space your plastic decoys appropriately (different spacings for each species) you also had to memorise complex call patterns. A passing pintail 500m away might require a vigorous QUACK-QUAAACK-QUACKITY-QUAK, a greenwing teal circling overhead, a pianissimo quak-quack-quaaack. And the turkey hunting was even more involved. To tempt ‘toms’ like a pro tom tempter you had to learn to play maybe fifty different tunes on your turkey box, turkey slate and – honestly,  I’m-not-making-this-up – turkey diaphragm.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little buzz out of seeing a duck tumble from the sky in a cloud of feathers or a buck buckle from a neat lung shot. There is a thrill in the kill, but the final act of a hunt is often not the one that lingers in your memory. The most gripping moments in a hunt sim come when you’re hot on the trail of a wounded animal. Loping along, scanning the ground for prints and blood stains, your head is usually abuzz with questions. Where did I hit it? Why didn’t I get closer before firing? What if it runs for miles and dies slowly in agony in the middle of some anonymous thicket? The guilt mingled with the annoyance of letting a prize get away gnaws at you like a starving wolf. Pre-contact tracking, that tends to be less engaging. Back in the early days of the genre, digital deer stalkers chose their starting locations by searching a map for diverse signs of herd activity like scraped trees, sleeping areas, and shed antlers, today’s generally have to rely on luck, boot-leather and the odd pile of dropping to locate their prey. A bit less rambling and a bit more Ray Mears-style spore-reading wouldn’t go amiss.

The landscapes in later games might be less useful than their predecessors, but they’re a damn-sight more attractive. Bearing in mind the classics are all getting on a bit and were all designed for the $20 budget market, they do a remarkably good job of evoking rural environments. DH2005 in particular really makes you feel like you’re out there gulping that fresh pine-scented air. Even if you find the idea of slaughtering simulated wildlife abhorent I’d recommend the game purely as a relaxation aid. Twenty minutes spent amongst the swaying Illinois maples, the towering Oregon firs, or the slightly-too-black Black Forest spruces certainly soothes me.

Well, it soothes me right up until the point I realise I’ve daydreamed my way to within spitting-distance of a napping stag, and that stag has just got up and dashed off into the undergrowth. Realistic beast behaviours are obviously vital in this field/copse/forest and DH2005 sets the standard here too. In Hunting Unlimited, spooked animals have a strange tendency to circle aimlessly before heading for the hills.

To experience the smartest deer the sims have to offer, you really have to get hold of some old copies of DH3 and round-up a few mates. That was the last title that allowed people to play as the deer in multiplayer. Dodging bullets, hiding in hollows, defecating on the boots of AFK hunters… The Endless Forest it was not. Today there’s still a few people playing DH2005 online. Personally, my preferred form of communal competition is the offline challenge. Acquire HU3 or HU4 then pop along to http://huntingunlimited.scssoft.com and you can download user-designed ‘tourney’ missions. These challenges place you in a particular locale with a certain weapon or weapon selection and task you with bringing home the biggest and best trophies. Once the tourney deadline has expired, uploaded results are published and you get to see whether anyone has bettered your arrow-riddled moose calf or Magnum-despatched boar runt.

Chances are, someone has. That someone will probably be American, but it’s not impossible you’ll have been beaten by a Brit. There’s interest in hunt sims on this side of the pond whatever UK publishers might think. A couple of years back I asked an Atari representative why they didn’t distribute their DH games over here. The gist of the answer was ‘Deer hunting is an American phenomenon. The titles wouldn’t sell in the UK.’  Until a canny budget distributor gets round to putting a Deer Hunter 2004/2005 or Hunting Unlimited compilation on British shelves we’ll never really know how flawed that analysis is.

I’d love to be able to end this little fireside chat with upbeat predictions about the future of this once-thriving genre. Sadly, I can’t. Atari seem content to let dust gather on the Deer Hunter licence . The Hunting Unlimited series looks to be going nowhere fast (the  differences between HU3 and its successors HU4, Hu2008 and HU2009 are negligible) Activision and Magic Wand show no signs of injecting more freedom and space into their cramped Cabela games. In short, prospects look bleak. Perhaps some passionate indie outfit will step in and move things forward. Hunt sims certainly deserve a new champion. They are far too colourful and curious a creature to be lazily dismissed or left to bleed to death unnoticed in the middle of some anonymous thicket.

The current issue of PC Gamer (#205) contains a happy postscript to this piece. See page 78 for my review of The Hunter.

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70 Comments »

  1. Catshade says:

    Fail for not mentioning the greatest hunting sim ever: Carnivores.

  2. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    It’s there…in a sense:
    Punters bored of stalking hoofed prey, soon had the chance to bag ducks, turkeys and pheasants, and put their virtual lives on the line tracking creatures that growled, gored, and fought back

  3. GreatUncleBaal says:

    I’m not usually into hunting games, but I put quite a few hours into The Hunter a few weeks back after downloading it on a whim. The graphics engine looks rather lovely, and although I’m definitely no expert, it feels authentic enough. My first spot of a deer was almost magical – I’d been following a trail for some time through the woods, and was crossing a road when I looked uphill. There at the top, sunlit from behind, stood a deer. Half-panicked by the shock of actually finding one of the buggers, my shot missed it by a mile and it legged it into the bushes. The game mechanics never make you feel like you’ve got no chance, though, and you can quickly pick up the trail again. Never could quite work out the wind direction very well – I think my hunter spent half the time coated in deer piss.

  4. Flappybat says:

    The Hunter is quite fantastic apart from the totally confused pricing system. When they get multiplayer in I think it’s really going to take off.

  5. Tunips says:

    The Hunter is perhaps the finest going-for-a-walk-in-the-woods simulator available.

  6. Lack_26 says:

    I’ve never played a hunting game but I can see the attraction. I spent many hours walking and stalking (but mainly hiding) on OpFlash’s Islands. I may have to try one at some point, but you’re right; I would prefer a bit more motive being an early colonist of the Americas would be rather fun. Especially if you had to be a bit wary of the potential of there being locals.

  7. bill says:

    I could maybe see the attraction of a hunting game with old style technology, where more skill would be involved. But with modern tech it all just seems too easy… might as well set up an auto-targeting gun and go for coffee.

    Actually, that’s more of a comment about hunting in general than hunting games… so i guess i’m not ever gonna be close to the target audience… I’ll stick with shooting people. er… in games..

  8. RogB says:

    this site is excellent for making me interested in playing games that I would normally never even give a second glance.

  9. Dominic White says:

    I’ve never been able to play hunting games. They just make me feel terribly guilty – what was that deer doing to harm me? It was just walking around looking cute, and I shot it and it’s dead, and those lifeless eyes are staring back at me.

    Curiously, I have no qualms playing Postal 2, but at least that game makes the entire towns population utterly hateable, so slicing their heads off with a shovel feels pointedly cathartic, rather than randomly cruel.

    Bring back Carnivores, I say. Use the engine from The Hunter and put in a huge variety of dinosaurs and other large, deadly predators, and let me hunt them with a crossbow.

    Hunting velociraptors with a crossbow is goddamn intense, as your only real advantage is range – the dinos have everything else in their favour.

    After Carnivores, the Monster Hunter games are the best primal terror simulators out there. Sure, I may be lugging around a gigantic sword, but it’s roughly the size of one of this monsters claws, and while it can take a good hundreds hits from my weapon before tiring, I’ll be wiped out in two hits.

    Hunting games need bigger, nastier prey.

  10. jarvoll says:

    Lack_26: To paraphrase Voltaire: I defend to the death your right to play it, but I find the idea of shooting native Americans abhorrent, and would never want to play such a game myself.

    • Lack_26 says:

      I wasn’t planning to shoot them, I was thinking more of a first encounter during a hunting trip a few days off the ships. It could go either way (based of the prejudices of the day), I just want something with a bit more depth.

      If only I could talk to the deer.

  11. Heliosicle says:

    Never tried a hunting game, closest I’ve come is either far cry 2 or mgs3…

  12. PC Monster says:

    You wouldn’t, by any chance, be using this very nicely written piece to lure unsuspecting RPS’ers into buying the latest PC Gamer magazine, would you? It’s not nice to treat people like prey animals, Tim. :)

  13. Cycle says:

    If only 3D Realms didn’t can the Duke Nukem hunting game… it would have surely revitalised the genre.

  14. Cycle says:

    (and saved their company)

  15. viper34j says:

    53 days until Deer season opens up here in Texas! Love me some hunting. However, I prefer to not use scoped rifles from a blind. Ground stalking with a bare sights rifle makes it much more fair for the deer (as proven by amazingly low chances of actually getting a kill that way).

  16. Lanster27 says:

    “What’s rarely mentioned is that most weaponless whitetails are much harder to hurt than most in-game Nazis, zombies or tangos.”

    Nicely said. Compare L4D to Deer Hunter, I would feel sorry for the zombies since they die in hundreds at a time.

  17. Heliosicle says:

    Trying out the hunter atm, its ok, but vsync means its super unresponsive…

  18. monkehhh says:

    I do like “Doc”, your helper, he’s a bit weird..

    From: monkehhh To: Doc
    Other task?

    From: Doc To: monkehhh
    Yep. Put it all together kinda thing. Get out there and hunt a Mule buck. I need one with at least 6 points, mind!

    From: monkehhh To: Doc
    6 points. Okay. I can do that.

    From: Doc To: monkehhh
    Yeah, whatever.

  19. Sparvy says:

    @viper34j,
    Not to take this off topic, but having “amazingly low chance of getting a kill” is usually worse for the deer, seeing as that means that are rather big chances of injuring said deer, cousing to live the rest of its life in pain.

    The Hunter was pretty fascinating, though I feel the extreme rarity (relative) of finding a deer was both its strongest and weekest point.

  20. BooleanBob says:

    opting for something a little more primitive – a handgun, shotgun bow, or flintlock –

    I don’t think I have sufficient imaginative capacity to process what a shotgun bow would look like, how it would operate, or even how awesome such a weapon would be. But I have one misplaced comma to thank for at least awakening me to the possibilities.

  21. Andy says:

    I bought Hunting Unlimited 2008 off steam awhile back, i found it very boring once the novelty of firing buckshot after buckshot into the back end of an elephant wore off.

  22. rei says:

    Hunting games disgust me and I’m going to boycott Tim until he flies me somewhere.

    That last shot looks like a lovely place to take a virtual stroll in. I might have to check that one out.

  23. RogB says:

    so theres a lot of games mentioned, but no actual recommendation. To someone who has never played any of them, name the standout best one. Is it ‘the hunter’ thats tantalisingly linked to at the end, without any indication of whether its good or bad?

  24. StarClaws says:

    Its all about ‘The Hunter’ … If they ever get the main island finished and fix a few other things. The game will be well worth it.

  25. terry says:

    I’ve been playing The Hunter on and off for the last few months. Fantastically relaxing, looks beautiful and I can now usually find a deer within 5 or so minutes. However the warden pass payment scheme is bizarre – not having much of an interest in playing multiplayer trophy competitions, I find it pretty hard to justify paying in order to have virtual turkeys mixed in with my virtual venison steaks. If Avalanche ever end up releasing it feature complete in a box sans monthly fee I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

  26. Mull says:

    I agree, there should be some more about The Hunter on this post – looks a bit odd from the low-rent website, but am downloading now…

  27. mister_d says:

    The Hunter is surprisingly fun. It’s the only hunting game I’ve ever played and it gave me a real respect for the genre. Perhaps it’s an exception to the rule, but it has a very real atmosphere to it. Of course, I’ve never actually been hunting, but it tallies with what I would imagine.

    The learning curve is really steep at first and you might play for several hours and never actually see anything, but when you figure out what you’re doing, it’s reasonable to expect to be able to track something down and get a kill in 15-min to an hour.

  28. futage says:

    I agree about The Hunter. Very engrossing game for a while that was.

  29. D says:

    I Also Agree With All The People In This Thread. IAAWATPITT

  30. Nimdok says:

    I might actually be encouraged to play a hunt sim if it was wrapped in some kind’ve period set-piece; I did like the dino-hunter ones whose names escape me, but something like taking Oregon Trail’s hunt mini-game and turning it into a full-fledged sim would be pretty damn fun: “Paw, we need us some venison or lil’ Timmy’s gonna die’ve that there cholera.” “Aw’right, gimmie my scattergun.”

  31. Persus-9 says:

    The setting definitely is the sticking point for me. It’s the association with modern sport hunting that I really don’t like. I’m sort of on the fence about hunting because I can see that it may be playing an important role in conservation (although in an ideal world I feel this wouldn’t be the case and conservation would be able to take care of itself) but I do find it extremely distasteful and, no offence to the hunters reading this thread, my experiences of interacting with hunters in the real world have mostly supported the stereotype that the average hunter, whatever the lip service they pay to conservation in defence of their “sport”, is basically just an amoral brute who likes killing things for fun and doesn’t see why anyone should have a problem with that and I find that a pretty damn messed up.

    Now given that, rightly or wrongly, I have this negative stereotype of hunters the last thing I really want to do is participate in any way in their culture. For me it’s like if some military group who I felt were morally ambiguous and in general a bunch of violent yahoos, say Blackwater, made a good FPS. I wouldn’t want to play it because I wouldn’t want to be associated with that group of people. The games actually sound quite fun to me but I know I’d feel uncomfortable while playing them just because I’m guessing most people who play these games also have no problem with hunting in the real world and I don’t want to be any part of that community even just as a sales statistic somewhere.

    I guess it’s similar to how I feel about games like X-Blades or Bayonetta that sell themselves on the basis of a sexual fantasy regarding their protagonist. However good or bad such games may be I don’t want anything to do with them because I don’t like their casual sexism and I don’t want to be mistaken for someone who can be sold things on the basis of that crap. I don’t want to be mistaken for someone who can be sold things on the basis of casual sexism because that could easily be mistaken for a moral endorsement of casual sexism. I also don’t want to be mistaken for somebody who can be sold something on the basis that it will enable me to live out a fantasy of murdering woodland animals because that could easily be mistaken for a moral endorsement of murdering woodland animals. On the other hand I don’t really have a problem with being sold a game on the basis of something more extreme like the fantasy of casual vehicular homicide because you’d have to be crazy to think the fact I bought GTA IV means I actually endorse casual vehicular homicide because nobody in their right mind endorses casual vehicular homicide where as thinking casual sexism and hunting are okay are all to common moral positions so it’s not crazy to assume that someone engaging with that community holds similar moral beliefs.

    That probably all sounds a bit moralistic and ranty but I don’t mean it to be because I’m really not sure about the moral facts of hunting or buying hunting games so I’m really just stating my gut feeling that I don’t want to be seen as endorsing the former and so I choose not to engage in the later.

    @ BooleanBob: Isn’t a shotgun bow Sgt. Detrutus’ weapon of choice?

  32. Pantsman says:

    No mention of the Thief series? Really?

  33. reaper47 says:

    Ahhh… hunting games, my guilty pleasure. :D

    I’m as far away from the typical target group for hunting simulations as it could get, yet had been addicted to DH2005 for months. I even like animals, not live anywhere near the countryside… I don’t know what it is.

    Thanks for allowing this little-loved niche game a spot on the front page.

  34. Heliocentric says:

    My favorite hunting game is hitman blood money. But really, i find something unsporting about hunting something that can’t hunt back. Now if a hunting game had competitive coop, that could get me excited.

  35. Premium User Badge

    Vandelay says:

    I have to agree with Persus-9 on this one, I don’t think I could possibly play one of these games without feeling uncomfortable and would feel wrong being associated with the connotations hunting games raise. Which is kind of crazy, when I have no problem playing the numerous blood filled or (worse) jingoistic shooters that are released every month or, as Persus-9 says, games such as GTA.

    Tim makes these games sound like a lot of fun though, and I think that a lot of people would find that something like this would make a great addition to games such as Stalker where survival is key. But in this context, I don’t think these are for me.

  36. Dominic White says:

    In a GTA game, you don’t feel bad about killing people because you’re sinking into the cartoonish, exaggerated reality of the city. The people are crazy, the cops are loopy, and there are gun superstores on every major street.

    Hunting games try to accurately replicate the process of systematically stalking and killing harmless (and often very cute-looking) creatures. There’s no joy in that, but it’s celebrating it anyway.

    It makes me feel like the bad-guy, and in a much deeper way than anything from Manhunt or Postal franchises could.

  37. Carra says:

    I remember some controversy about Deer Hunter (Cabela?) games. But because they used live footage of deer being shot not really about shooting pixels.

    I can only imagine how they’d do that these days. Catch a deer, put it full of those motion capture balls and shoot it. Realistic dieing footage of your deers!

  38. sinister agent says:

    I have fond memories of playing a Carnivores game. I think the third – the ice age one, at any rate. Taking down those killer ostrich things was terrifying when you turned round and realised it was sprinting towards you at eighty miles per hour. I particularly enjoyed watching a friend carefully stalk one, line up a shot, and then whirl round to see another one pouncing. He said “Clever girl” and everything. Good times.

  39. DarkNoghri says:

    @Dominic
    As I recall, if hunters weren’t culling deer herds, they would be overpopulating and starving to death.

    Without having played any of the listed games, I would argue that Oregon Trail 2 had the best hunting ever. “You’ve killed 18 buffalo, 12 deer, and 5 rabbits. You carry 12000 pounds of meat back to your wagon train.”

    @Boolean Bob
    Like this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RobinHoodMeninTights_Poster.jpg

  40. Chemix says:

    I liked the parody game: Deer Hunter- Revenge, where you played as a deer versus rednecks, it was enjoyable for the 5 minutes I played it at the store. I see little point in hunting short of catching food vs. starving to death. Yeah, you’re a real man for buying a rifle that fires a bullet faster than the speed of sound at a deer that’s unaware you exist and has no way of avoiding your bullet once it’s fired, it’s too fast. Yeah, that’s a real man, he took down an unarmed (both in weaponry, and in limbs, given, the deer has 4 legs, rather than 2 arms and 2 legs, but you get the pun) from 400 yards. The difference between this and a target you set up being that it moves and can hear you (given you make noise) and you’ll usually be sitting in your tree stand for hours before sunrise to get a shot at the bugger, oh, and it’s alive, though it’s not human, so it’s fine, end life for the fun man.

    You wanna make this fair, go out and try and get a deer with your bare hands and teeth. Then, I’ll say you did something, something pointless, but difficult, and risky. I’d also say something similar if, without schematics or instructions, you constructed a rifle or bow and arrow by hand and attempted to do the same, though probably with less gusto.

    So, I’ll stand by this and say, lets reintroduce wolves, foxes, and other natural predators who are on a more level playing field than your average shithead that can go down to the gunstore, buy a gun or compound bow, and shoot something.

  41. A-Scale says:

    “In real-life, using a revolver to drop deer will get you arrested most everywhere.”

    Say what? Almost everywhere has rules regarding which caliber can be used to hunt deer, and most of them include larger revolver calibers (357 magnum and up). A large handgun cartridge from <100 yards is plenty to drop any woodland animal. Heck they even make bear revolvers specifically for self protection.

  42. Oak says:

    Oddly, there was yet another game about hunting dinosaurs, called Primal Prey. It was crappy, but the trophy area was far superior to that of Carnivores.

    I’d like to see the Turok: Dinosaur Hunter series turn out a proper dinosaur hunting game. You’d play as pith-helmeted gentleman hunter Nigel Livingston Turok, bagging fearsome reptilian game all over the Lost World.

  43. solipsistnation says:

    To appeal in the UK, you’d probably have to come up with a “poaching in the local lord’s forest” sim…

    Or possibly fox hunting. Catch a wily fox and use the points to purchase a brighter red jacket and wider jodhpurs and barkier dogs! Whoo! Only the hunter with the widest jodhpurs can catch the 9-tailed spirit fox…

  44. Fat Zombie says:

    @A-Scale:

    So that’s what a Bear Revolver is? …thought it was a revolver that fired bears.

    I’d better cancel that order.

  45. Jason says:

    I think the main reason hunting sims (I agree this is what they should be called) haven’t caught on in the larger gaming community is exemplified by the comments on this thread. I’m not offended by the stereotypes of hunters (redneck, male, white, drunk, gun nuts, bloodthirsty, insecure in masculinity) any more than I am by the stereotypes of gamers (fat, male, white, smelly, lives with parents, unable to get a job, can’t get a date), etc. But you have to recognize those are just stereotypes.

    Of course many of the animals I hunt are cute. Bunny tastes good. Quail tastes good. They’re both cute, and in many ways beautiful creatures. They’re helpless in the respect that they don’t have any way of hurting me. (My own gun is probably the biggest danger to me when on a hunt.) But their appearance is not what makes the ethics of the situation what it is. If they were ugly, or even dangerous to me, it wouldn’t make hunting more or less wrong. My state has a Game & Fish department to analyze the wilderness and figure out what can be hunted and fished and when. The biologists and ecologists who work there work their ass off to make sure that when I go hunting, I’m helping the wilderness, not hurting it. I never hunt anything I don’t eat (with the exception of fish that are damaging a lake and need to be fished down). To me this is far more honest a means of eating than buying my food at the supermarket. The quail I shoot lived in the wild, drank rain from puddles and ponds and seasonal washes, it hid, it ran, it flew, and I got it. It lived a natural life in a place where it belonged. The steers and chickens whose meat I buy at the supermarket didn’t have anything remotely close to that.

    As for guns, I own one shotgun. It’s more than enough. Gun nuts are different, they claim the government is coming for their guns. I know that the government is never going to take guns away from hunters using guns for hunting, and there is no reason for me to own another gun. As I say above, they’re dangerous when loaded.

    The fact is: hunting is fun, it is not unethical when practiced appropriately, and hunter stereotypes are just stereotypes. Maybe if you fat unwashed gamers would put down your joysticks and get out of your parents’ basement and out into the wild once in a while you’d understand that. ;)

  46. Unlucky Irish says:

    Hunting games don’t sell well in the UK because the population is so urbanised and hunting is inherently a rural sport; it’s totally out with our experience. Additionally everything bigger than a shrew has all ready been hunted to extinction in the UK so we’re rather protective of what we have left. Even god damn foxes which are basically natures neds (< read chavs). Though I must admit this article has got me interested in the genre, anyone know is Hunting Unlimited 2008 is any good? The Hunter looks a bit limited as it's only deer your allowed to murder.

  47. RogB says:

    the hunter has a very nice graphics engine, i was quite taken aback by that. Almost crysis-like. (it also as the same effect of ever-so-gradually increasing my graphics card fan as it starts sweating.. its quite pathetic to hear)
    anyway i had about 20 minutes play, found some deer, got too excited, fired too soon and they ran for miles. I can see this being tricky, relaxing and intense at the same time..

  48. lumpi says:

    If you eat a hamburger, the cow that had to die for it has lived and was killed under more brutal circumstances than any deer will ever be.

    The truth is: If you can see the cute eyes of the deer, you are suddenly remembered of your cat or your best friend’s dog. The only meaningful argument is an ecological one. Deer is not an endangered species. But although I enjoyed DH2005, I could never bring myself to play one of those games in which you virtually hunt bears or panthers. Even if they can “fight back”. It’s plain wrong, not because of their puppy-eyed cuteness, but because those animals are at the border of extinction.

  49. luminosity says:

    Depends where you obtain your hamburger, lumpl.

  50. sinister agent says:

    Even if they can “fight back”. It’s plain wrong, not because of their puppy-eyed cuteness, but because those animals are at the border of extinction.

    Am I to assume that you’d approach, say, Grand Theft Auto by walking around the streets admiring the sights, and never actually doing anything, because even stealing a car is wrong, let alone mowing down cops in a truck and blowing up half the city?

    A game is a game. Nothing you do in a videogame is ever ethically wrong, because it has no actual real world effect on anything. Your hard drive isn’t going to get upset because you shot the hostages.