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Cabela's African Adventures (Video Game Review)

Cabela's games have a tendency to be overlooked in today's gaming industry where there seems to be a new shooter or two releasing every week and most gamers have a backlog of games they need to get around to playing before moving on to the next. Despite producing several solid hunting experiences, the series never seems to get much love, but maybe things will change with the new release of Cabela's African Adventures. The new title offers the biggest world ever for a Cabela's game and plenty of exciting showdowns with animals that may be looking to make the player their prey just as much as the player is targeting them. Cabela's African Adventures offers another solid hunting experience for fans of recent titles, and it may even surprise a few gamers with how fun it really is to hunt down the world's deadliest prey.

Cabela's African Adventures follows a storyline of a famous hunter that travels down to Africa to search out the biggest hunts and make some killer cash. He soon meets up with a very wealthy local that is willing to pay a large sum of money for the protagonist to bring back a valuable tribal statue. The catch is that an adversarial tribe had stolen the statue shortly before arrival and broken it into five different pieces. Even worse, the five pieces were hidden in the lairs of the most dangerous animals in the area. Collectively, they are known as the Big 5, and the hero must find and track down each to make the statue whole and earn his big payday. It will be a bit difficult for some gamers to get behind a protagonist whose only motivation to killing hundreds of animals throughout the game's campaign is for money, but it's a storyline that pushes the action forward and does its job if you don't think too hard about what you're doing at the time.

Cabela's African Adventures story plays out over a series of linear missions, though the player is free to go out and explore the open world at any time if they so choose. Missions typically come from the same rich guy throughout the game, and a helpful map and waypoint system will keep players pointed in the right direction at all times. Cabela's African Adventures isn't a realistic hunting experience, but it instead tries to deliver action shooting sequences with packs of wild animals that is sure to get hearts beating faster. The game will take several hours to play from start to finish depending on how much time is spent checking out the local area, but the player does have access to a jeep for the entirety of the game to make traveling around a bit quicker and easier.

There are typically two types of missions in the game; one will ask the player to drive to a nearby location and hunt down a pack of animals, and the other will require players to use stealth to complete an objective. No matter which type of mission is completed, the player will earn experience points and possible ability points and enhancements. Ability points can be spent to acquire various passive and activated abilities such as Rapid Fire that shoots off every round in a clip in a quick burst and Stealth Sprint that gives the player the ability to silently run while crouched. Only two activated abilities and one passive ability can be equipped at any one time, and there are various skill trees to work through including offensive, defensive and stealth abilities. Players can also unlock new enhancements for a variety of effects such as more health, more accurate shots from the hip and quicker reloads.

Outside of the Big 5 that includes a Rhino, Leopard, Lion, Cape Buffalo and African Elephant, the player will rarely feel too challenged. Guns are already powerful in the game, and the player also has unlimited ammo, so adding in any additional abilities just makes the game that much easier. Players also gain adrenaline for landing killing blows to enemies in vital organs. The adrenaline can then be used to slow down time and use overpowered shots to quickly down any foe. It's no doubt exciting when an enemy gains an advantage over the player, and it seems as though the player will be wiped out at any second, but the game's protagonist is so powerful that this is a rare occurrence outside of a few key locations or boss battles where enemies can quickly gain the upper hand, paw or hoof.

Driving is an important part of Cabela's African Adventures, but that's not to say that it is done well. The player's vehicle never takes damage or can be lost, so there is no logical reason to ever become stranded in any of the various biomes included in the game. This isn't really a flaw in the game so much as a missed opportunity that could've created some stressful, but exciting, moments for players fighting to get back to safety after wrecking in an African jungle with limited ammunition. Driving controls are also not very well done. The controls are responsive, but to the point that trying to make a turn can easily lead to crashing the vehicle into scenery directly to the left or right of the player's current position.

Players that enjoy classic arcade shooting game will enjoy Cabela's African Adventures' Shooting Gallery game mode. In the Shooting Gallery, up to four players can join in with the Top Shot Elite or Top Shot Fearmaster available in bundle packages for Cabela's African Adventures or from other releases in the Cabela's game line. The goal of this game mode is to find and shoot certain animals with the specified weapons for maximum points. Up to four players can enjoy this unique mode, so it's a good choice to play with friends, especially with the optional peripherals that makes the game feel just like the arcade only without the need for quarters.

Cabela's African Adventures isn't much to look at graphically. The game obviously isn't unplayable in its current state, but when compared to other new releases, it's clear that Cabela's African Adventures doesn't hold up to its competition. Cabela's African Adventures does produce some realistic animal cries that accurately portray each of their real life counterparts. When facing down with a monstrous elephant, the sound effects the game produces can go a long way in creating a lot of tension for the player while rolling out of the way and firing a few more shots into the behemoth. The game controls fine with the exception of the too loose driving sensitivity to round out a decent presentation for this year's Cabela's.

PETA obviously wouldn't approve of Cabela's African Adventures, but BioGamer Girl does. The title offers exciting shooting, hunting and open world gameplay that brings out the big guns and even larger animals. The story mode is long enough and offers an interesting, if generic, tale that most players can get behind. What the game lacks in good driving design and graphics, it more than makes up for in fun shooting action and an additional arcade game mode that makes for an entertaining party game. Cabela's African Adventures isn't the best new shooter, but it's a lot of fun and can be picked up at a low price on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii with a free controller when purchased directly from the Cabala's website. Check out Cabela's African Adventures and see what you can find down in Africa!

Cabela's African Adventures is now available from all major retailers and can be purchased for the MSRP of $39.99 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and $29.99 on Nintendo Wii. Cabela's African Adventures is rated T by the ESRB for Blood & Violence. For more information on Cabela's African Adventures, check out the official Cabela's website.

Game Features:
Offline Multiplayer 1-4
Challenge the Big 5 Animals
5 Different Biome Locations
Online Leaderboards
Trophy/Achievement Support

Game Information:
Developer: Cauldron
Publisher: Activision
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii (reviewed) & PC
Release Date: October 15, 2013

Score: 7 out of 10

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