With the addition of just a few more fundamentals of hunting, this could have been an exceptionally good game.
TNN Outdoors Pro Hunter is one of the latest additions to the ever-growing hunting game genre. And while it features some impressive options, graphics and gameplay elements, Pro Hunter, like most of the hunting games we've seen thus far, is more of a shooting game than a hunting simulation. Even so, Pro Hunter delivers a better hunting experience than any other hunting title so far.
The number of different animals you can hunt is impressive. There are nine species in all, including white tail deer, elk, ducks, rabbits, and turkeys to name just a few. All of these animals may be hunted in four different U.S. locations, ranging from the rocky terrain of the southwest to the flat open fields of the southeast. These locations can be hunted during the spring, fall, and winter, and the different seasons basically change look of the environment.
The game features eleven different weapons to choose from. Most notable are the .30/06 deer rifle, 12-gauge bolt action shotgun, and .338 bolt action deer rifle. For an added challenge the designers have added what they call "prestige weapons," such as a .357 magnum pistol, longbow, compound bow, and muzzleloader. These weapons require that you are not only a sure shot but also that you can get close enough to the animals without spooking them.
The game also has a ton of different gear that you can choose to take with you on your hunts like cover scents, gloves, temperature aids, and even hunting dogs. These items when used correctly actually aid in attracting game and cloaking your presence. Plus they're just kind of fun to fool with.
The control interface follows the typical first-person shooter set up. You have the choice to use the mouse and keyboard, which allows you to look wherever you want by using the mouse, and to strafe using the arrow keys.
While Pro Hunter is a vast improvement over the other hunting games we've seen so far on the PC, it still suffers from its action-oriented tendencies. Half of the fun of actual hunting is tracking the animals by finding game trails and tracks to follow. The exclusion of these basic elements limits the gameplay to simply walking around the 3D environments looking for something to shoot. Only when players can go to a watering hole and look at the ground and see fresh tracks leading off to a trail out of the mud. And then to have those tracks lead to that animal will the excitement of a real-life stalk be captured by a game.
The behavior of the animals is fairly realistic. You'll find some deer meandering along together while other times you'll come across a big buck that's all by himself. They naturally run when fired upon - that is if you miss. If you just walk around shooting at the countryside you more than likely won't see anything, but if you sneak up on an animal you'll see them looking around and behaving somewhat realistically. One impressive, though incidental, AI feature is that when you take down a large bull elk or buck with accompanying cows or does, the cows and does will stop for a second to wait for their downed companion. The only thing that detracts from the otherwise realistic behavior is when the animals occasionally run into a wall and get stuck.
Visually. Pro Hunter is by far the most impressive of any of the hunting games. Its highly touted use of the Unreal engine provides wonderful 3D environments that do look quite impressive, complete with trees, bushes, hills, and streams. Inhabiting these environments are of course the 3D modeled animals you are after. The animals themselves look quite accurate to their real life counterparts although the illusion of them actually being real is lost a bit by their jerky movements. The textures used for the trees and nearby mountain landscapes look great whether running the game using software or a 3D card.
The sound effects add to the experience with ambient sounds like running streams and birds. Voice commands help to guide you through the hunt and offer advice, and the sarcastic delivery of phrases like "what are you doing?" is mildly entertaining.
In the end Pro Hunter is the best PC hunting shooter so far. With the addition of just a few more fundamentals of hunting, this could have been an exceptionally good game. If you've been a fan of hunting games so far you should definitely give TNN Outdoors Pro Hunter a try. I just hope that ASC games does a sequel and really tries to improve the actual stalking part of the game.