I'll be the first to admit, hunting games were always a blast of nostalgia for me. I fondly remember spending long weekends playing the Cabela's series on PlayStation 2, simply trying to understand the various mechanics and features at play that made these hunting experiences such a joy to play, despite some of their obvious flaws. Along came developer Neopica with Hunting Simulator 2, a more simulation-focused hunting experience than anything you might've encountered in the Cabela's games. For the most part, it's about what you'd expect, though can lack charm in certain areas.
Hunting Simulator 2 starts off by introducing players to the vast world of hunting. You're given the option of choosing between a male or female hunter (a friend of mine jokingly exclaimed that the character models looked superior to those in Ubisoft games) and must go through a lengthy tutorial to come to grips with the gameplay loop. It's a fairly simple, if somewhat repetitive, loop of tracking down animals with the help of a trusty guide dog, choosing the right weapon to take them down, collecting their bodies and selling them for cash to buy your next few items, rinse and repeat.
Initially you start off with a bit of cash and only a few guns, one license, and some gear to customize your character with. However, as you progress, you begin to rack up more animals to sell so you can unlock better equipment, gear, and even entire breeds of dogs. This progression is what kept me going throughout the game, as Hunting Simulator 2 can certainly feel slow and tedious at the worst of times, and kind of calming at the best.
Hunting is the name of the game, and in order to hunt certain animals, you need to obtain hunting licenses for each animal. These will also expire after many uses, so you'll constantly have to keep purchasing the licenses. I didn't mind this at all, as midway through the game, I had accumulated enough cash to the point where buying old and new items was never an issue. If you have the right type of weapon to hunt your specific target with (of which there are many rifles), you're tasked with tracking down the animal and playing a waiting game for that perfect shot. The pace was kind of a mixed bag for me. Sometimes, it was quite therapeutic simply wandering the wilderness and soaking up the scenery. Other times, I just wanted the game to hurry along.
Hunting Simulator 2 is a very good-looking game.
Unfortunately, with no meaningful progression holding the game together, it does lose steam fairly quickly.
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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3 July 2020
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