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June 13, 2014

Bass Pro Shops' The Hunt (Part 3)

(Since this is Part 3, maybe you would get a better understanding of the situation if you watched/read the first two episode of this trilogy. They can be accessed here and here. Go read them, they're hilarious!)

*theme tune begins, revealing the title: Virtue/al Hunting!*

Now welcome your hosts, Douglas aaaaaaaaaand... Robert!

*Douglas and Robert enter.*

Douglas: Hello, hello, hello! And welcome back for Part 3 of this magnificent contest! Continuing from last Friday and this Monday, we're following Nicolas as he is playing through Bass Pro Shops' The Hunt... in real life! How are you doing, Nicolas?

*I'm on the screen now, in the next park.* Um... Alright, I guess? I'm checking my position with the results I have so far and I'd be in seventh place... out of ten. Seriously, this game is not great! It's nigh impossible to reach the first place! Unless you want to spend hours in every park, chasing down the biggest tournament animal you can see...

Robert: Your complaints are duly noted, you'll have all the space to write about them on your blog. Now you're in Alberta, on the second-to-last day of this competition. We skipped Minnesota and Florida last time, because nothing much actually happened on those two days... but now we're really going to see some action!

I wouldn't bet on that. The parks feel empty, it's like a world devoid of all human presence save for the few hunters and the player character. And even the animals are sort of few and far between in some cases. This isn't an “active” game, you can spend a long time just searching for animals, because the doe bleat, the doe estrus, nothing seems to work in most cases.

Douglas: Are you ready for today's challenge? You have to hunt for an elk today in Alberta!

No! This can't be summer Alberta! On the other hand, it
would explain Stephen Harper's cold-heartedness...
Why is it so snowy? We're in June, for Christ's sake! There isn't snow all year in Alberta! Gosh, this game was clearly made by Americans. Or the competition happens during winter in the game, or else there wouldn't be that much snow here! While I'm at it, have you guys realized that this is the ONLY Canadian park in the whole freaking game? Yes, the box says that it's a competition through North America... with nine out of ten parks in the United States, one in Canada, none in Mexico! Seriously, what the Hell!

Robert: If you're dissing on the American people, know we're a very proud nation and we won't tolerate it.

I'm not insulting America! I'm just saying that the developers behind this game were hypocrites when they said that this game represented North America! It represents America only! Still makes one travel across the country and see ten beautiful parks – some prettier than others, but it all depends on what you like and dislike about nature. I just find it kinda weak that only one Canadian park was visited and, what's more, it's visited during winter, to strengthen the stereotype. You sure you don't wanna feature maple syrup, the Montreal Canadians and our good bacon while you're at it?

Anyway, better get going now. *I get on my ATV and hunt around, successfully shooting an elk, a mule deer and two moose* Awesome! Things are getting pretty great here! I'm gaining experience, I'm becoming better! What's that? I can try to shoot a grizzly bear? Okay, let's go! *I spend at least thirty minutes looking for a grizzly bear – a male – that I can shoot. I finally find one... a female* Tabarnak! *Another thirty minutes pass before I finally shoot a male grizzly bear* Ah, finally! With this kill, I've finally reached the amount of Reputation points needed!

Douglas: Next we see Nicolas in an even colder region of the world. Alaska, nothing less! I hope you're dressed to survive in this cold environment!

*I'm wearing a parka and a balaclava is covering my mouth* Mmmf mm mmmf mmmummmmm mmmfffffmm muffuff fummffuffmmfuffmmmmmm-

Robert: Take that mask off before you speak to us, Kenny.

Mffm! Okay, here goes. Uh, yeah, I think I'm ready. This place is colder than the coldest winter I've seen in Quebec, so it will be a pain. I hope not to freeze in place, that would be a crappy way to die. So, I go on a hunt for a caribou, then I kill a few more animals, I complete a few more challenges and then I can finally go home?

Douglas: ...Yes. Yes, that's it.

Also, one of the missions in that park is to take a picture of a
polar bear. You can't kill it! It's a female!
Okay! What are we waiting for? *I get aboard my ATV and drive off.* Okay, so, now that the competition is almost over, I was thinking, maybe I should go back over the many things I've pointed out so that I can give a full picture of the game and its quality before passing judgment...

Robert: Seriously? Can't that wait after you've finished this park?

...Maybe. Okay, this seems like a good place for hunting. *I go around and successfully shoot a wolf, a black bear, an elk and two deer.* Wow, I'm really good in this park! That's the last thing you got for me? An easy park for the finale? *Minutes later, I also shoot Alaska's King of Bucks.* WOW! Come on, what can go wrong now? All I need to get is the caribou and I'm done with this competition!

Douglas: You know how it goes: When things are too easy, expect them to get harder!

Aw, come on! It's not like like I'm gonna meet any almighty animal-AAAAACK! *I'm being attacked by a huge-ass grizzly!*

Robert: The greatest grizzly to have ever roamed Alaska, Silverback! This is as close as a final boss you'll ever get in this game!

You call that unimpressive? Wait till it starts slashing at you! AAAAAH!

*panic attack!* AH! AH! AH! AH! AH! GWAAAAAAAAAAAACK! *I shoot it multiple times, and it tries to attack me; I barely escape its deadly paws when it finally goes down, after about twenty bullets. I REPEAT: TWENTY BULLETS!* AAAAH! AAAAAH! AAAAAAH! This... was... so... huge! Holy... crap... This was dangerous...

Douglas: You... did it... You killed it! You saved yourself from the most dangerous animal in the game! This is amazing.

*I'm panting heavily.* Holy crap. I think I almost suffered a heart attack. I killed it? That's great... I suppose... It's gonna be in my trophy collection?

Robert: Of course!

Woo! Thanks! So, all I got to do is shoot a caribou and I'm done. *An hour and a half later – yes, you heard that right, AN HOUR AND A HALF later –, this is done and I have amassed the required amount of Reputation Points.* Wow, I did it! Thanks guys! So, this is the end of the competition?

*The screens turn off at the Virtue/al Hunting studio. Three armchairs have been installed in the center, with Douglas and Robert sitting on two of them.*

Douglas: This was an excellent competition!

Robert: I wouldn't go that far. Our contestant hasn't shot the best game he could, as the game would have ranked him below the Top 5 hunters. Ninth out of ten, in fact. This is not exactly a good performance.

Douglas: Ah, be happier. We have introduced another person to the virtuous sport of hunting, and you're still grumpy! Turn your frown upside down, because Nicolas is here! He's coming and he'll talk with us here, to close the show and these three episodes filmed in partnership with Planned All Along! Therefore, here is...

Douglas and Robert: ...Our contestant, everybody!

*A loud CRASH is heard. The wall has exploded and I'm supposed to enter that way. For an “awesome” entrance, apparently.*

Robert: ...What happened? He was supposed to enter there.

*I enter by the open wall, dragging behind me a guy holding a comic book* Apparently, this guy was sitting just above the wall you blew up to make my dramatic entrance on the set. You need more security around here.

???: *singing* ...But share the scrapings at the bottom of the barrel with you...

Douglas: We'll get an intern to take care of that. Now, sit down. So, did you enjoy your experience? It sure feels weird to get off the chair, grab a weapon, and go hunting FOR REAL!

Aurora borealis. Holy wow.
Uh... Yeah. It feels different to say the least. I'm not a sports guy – unless you count solo sports like swimming, kayaking, or going on a bicycle. And the reason I don't do most of those is because I don't have the required stuff at home nor the budget to afford them. But your show – which is totally fictional – has let me experience a solo sport I had never tried for real before – and for good reason, as I am not exactly a fan of firearms. I'd explain my views on the whole Second Amendment issue, but that's not what we're here for, and I don't want to make enemies because of my differing, purely Canadian opinion on an American debate. As I realized, hunting is a difficult sport, between killing animals that must be tracked and shot – and most of all, you must show some dignity and not inflict too much pain to the animals you're killing – while you, too, can get attacked by wild animals. You also have to learn about the species you're hunting, the time of the year when it becomes legal to hunt Species X or Species Y, the behavior they'll adopt, what are the best tricks to lure it in, what tools are the best to shoot or capture the animal. Those are all factors that must be taken into consideration in the making of a hunting video game like Bass Pro Shops' The Hunt. So, did I like this real-life simulation (talk about an oxymoron) of a hunting game? Yeah, as a recreation, it was kind of fun.

Robert: You've played through the game before living through this simulation. In fact, I was surprised that I had to re-explain everything to you through these three parts. Tell me, do you like the game?

...A little.

Douglas and Robert: ...JUST A LITTLE?

Erm... Sadly, yes. It does give he feeling that you're hunting, what with the large selection of guns, actual warnings received if you shoot females or if you kill animals with the wrong weapons. It's a complex introduction to the world of virtual hunting-

Douglas: Plug!

-But at the same time, it IS a complex introduction to the world of hunting in video games. There's too much to remember, how to use each tool, what it's for, the combination of buttons to achieve an effect... That's not even going into all the techniques you have to learn to chase an animal and successfully shoot it. And that's when you freaking find one! Most of the time, I was just going around until I seemed to see the shape of an animal in the distance. These parks are freaking EMPTY. Not just of wildlife, which is so very hard to find, but also of flora, as I was surprised at the so few trees and plants around every visited place.

Robert: That was to make your traveling easier, you know.

Yeah, and the ATV didn't help! Seriously though, it's really a pain in the ass – feel free to beep that one in post-production – to drive on. The ATV's controls are sloppy and pretty damn annoying. And that's not even getting on the subject of steep hills. The stupid ATV will usually fall back, or it'll tip over... and like I said, it often causes glitches – that can be resolved by quitting the park and going back, luckily. And of course, it's so noisy that all wildlife will run away if they hear you. AND you can't stay on your ATV to shoot, so you always have to get off it before shooting – and by the time you do that, with your slow character, the animals will be too far! Oh yeah, the player character is also pretty slow, yet somehow the animals will hear you from afar unless you use the Stealth Mode. The doe estrus has little use, and even the bleats are not as useful considering the rarity of the animals around the parks.
Also, the difficulty of the mini-games in this game was way too high. Some were easier than others but they were all hard to play. The racing mini-games were alright. But in most cases, the time limits for the games were too short or the objectives were too high, too difficult to reach. Which basically means that unless you're an ace gamer, you pretty much have to rely on your hunting skills to amass Reputation Points. Also, only one type of weapon can let you zoom in on your target; which means that it's very hard to aim with the others. Personally, I never used the bow; I have a great deal of respect for the expert archers in fiction, but I sure ain't one of them.
And while the box clearly says that the competition passess through ten parks in North America, it would have been closer to say that it's in nine parks in the USA and one in Canada; if it had really been ten parks in North America, it means there would have also been more Canadian parks (even two would have been better than one) and maybe even one or two parks from Mexico. Because, you know... It's kind of a cheap lie to say “Yes, buy this game, there are Canadian parks in it!” when there's actually just one. We have beautiful parks in Canada too, you know.
Though, granted, some parks do look very nice.
There are nice options, like the mini-game mode and the Trophy Room. The Kings of Bucks and the legendary animals were also good ideas – though dangerous encounters with the legendary animals IS terrifying. Freaking grizzly! The graphics are just okay for what can be achieved on the Wii system, and it helps that you never really get too close to the animals you shoot; you can't complain about their lack of detail if you can't see them clearly. On the other hand, the dangerous encounters do reveal to us all the conspicuous CGI these animals are made of. I should also mention that since it's a hunting game, of course there is no music as you're in the parks, as it would be kind of inappropriate. There is music for the mini-games, though, and it's just okay as well.
Is it a great game? Hell no. Is it good? Eh... Is it okay? Yeah, I guess so. Is it bad? I wouldn't go THAT far, but its large amount of problems do push it nearer to "bad". It can be enjoyable, but if you have no patience, don't play this game. It's all about patience and lining up the perfect shot. Oh, and if you're not patient, don't go hunting for real either. You also need to be excellent at aiming and shooting. Aiming isn't easy on the Wii, with the cursor that is constantly moving... So, just a meh game, that can be fun for a while, but it expects way too much talent out of its players and it has too many problems that sink it lower. Buy only if you tried it first and really liked it. For the others, I suggest that you try it, but only if you know its problems aren't going to annoy you or you already have some talent in virtual hunting.
This was Virtue/al Hunting, everyone. I hope you enjoyed the show while I was there, and I hope to see you all again for a future review on Planned All Along! Okay, bye!

Robert: Hey wait, WE were supposed to close the show! We're the hosts, for Christ's sak-*end credits play*