By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
very now and then, a PC title comes along that is a complete and utter smash hit with a mainstream audience...and hardcore gamers just don't get it. It happened with Myst, it happened with Riven...and now, it's happened with Deer Hunter. With the imminent release of Deer Hunter II, I thought it was time to take a look at this unbelievably popular title...one that has managed to stay in the top 5 games sold in the US for longer than even Quake 2.
So what is Deer Hunter? Well...it's a pretty simple game, all things considered, which is probably a major reason for its success. In Deer Hunter, you pretty much just hunt deer. If you're one of those people who this offends deeply...then you better stay away from this game. :)
The gameplay is for better or worse, damn original. You start by choosing your weapon from a Bow, a Rifle, or a Shotgun. Don't expect to find any Pulse Rifles here...while Deer Hunter may not be the most realistic simulation out there, it does try its best. Next you choose your location...either the woodlands of Arkansas, the forests of Colorado, or the snow laden plains of Indiana. All of them are pretty much the same anyway, just with different images in the back drop (or at least...that's what I thought...I'm sure there's a fairly noticeable difference if you're into hunting...I can't claim that).
So anyway, once you've chosen your location, it's off to find some deer. You'll be whisked off to a map screen, where you look around (by moving a dinky viewfinder dealie) for signs of deer activity. You know...droppings, that sort of thing. Once you've found some crap (literally!) it's off to kill Bambi.
This next part of the game, is really the "meat" of Deer Hunter (oooh...bad pun). Here you're dropped in a first person view (only...you can't move forward, just turn around) with your tools of the trade: your weapon of destruction, a deer call, your trusty binoculars, and a pair of horns that you rattle together (actually it sounded kinda silly to me too, but I think it works). Once you're here, get ready to sit and wait for a while. Oh, and turn up the speakers big-time loud. Deer can be pretty subtle.
So I sat there, and rattled my horns, and looked around. After about forty minutes of watching the woods do...nothing, I decided to find a different spot. I found some more crap, wiped it off my shoes, and hopped back into the first person view. And you know what? I found myself a deer. Whee! Believe it or not, it's so hard to find a deer in this game if you don't know what you're doing, that it's a major sense of accomplishment when you actually do find one. Using my Quake skilz (ph3r it, baby) I pulled out my shotgun and fired away.
...and the damn thing ran off.
After trying this several more times, I eventually nailed myself a deer. Actually, I was sort of hoping that it was possible to hit another hunter aimlessly walking through the woods (for that realistic feel, doncha know) but no luck.
But, when you finally do bag a buck, it's pretty damn satisfying. So satisfying, in fact, that I have no desire ever to play this thing again. Yep, that's pretty good.
I will admit that Deer Hunter, despite its lack of forward movement, and simplistic graphics is well made. Quite well made, in fact. Playing the game you find yourself trying to figure out what the deer is thinking...it's not necessarily for me...but it is what the designers were hoping for. If you're a hunting buff, chances are you've already got this game, and are eagerly awaiting the sequel (which should be arriving any day now). If you don't...check out Deer Hunter. You may find yourself having the time of your life.
On the other hand, if you're a die-hard Quake player...avoid this one like the plague. You'll probably find that watching paint peel is more entertaining. Especially some of them new-fangled paints. ;)
As for me...I think i'm ready to try Redneck Deer Huntin' now...maybe that one will let me shoot myself in the foot.
- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief here at loonygames.
|Credits: Bargain Bin logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. Bargain Bin is © 1998 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited and like, in poor taste, dude.|