Atari Preview Day: Deer Hunter Tournament impressions

My preview day with Atari ended with the latest Deer Hunter game. This was the very first playable build on the Xbox 360 so it was only a lookie no touchy preview. This was just to give us an idea of what to expect from the game, as it wasn’t anywhere near finished.

The Deer Hunter series is all about real life simulation. The latest is no different and looks to be the closest thing you can get to a real hunting experience, short of getting your dad’s gun out from his closest and hunting down your pet dog.*

Hit the jump to read about my impressions of Deer Hunter Tournament, where I talk about some of the new things they are doing, including the inclusion of tournaments where you can win real prizes.

[*I am not responsible for your stupidity if you actually do that.]

You’ll be visiting various places such as California, Finland, Arizona and more, all in different climate settings, such as the desert and snow, to hunt your various game. You’ll have different weapons ranging from rifles, shotguns, crossbows, composite bows and more, to hunt down deer, bears, moose, turkeys, rams, mountain lions and more. You can only carry two weapons at a time and your weapons are customizable.

Deer Hunter is all about simulating the real-life hunting experience, so you’ll be able to set up shacks to hide in, drop down food to attract deer and creatures, and even use deer calls to attract your game. You could potentially be waiting in one area for 20 minutes or more to get some game, should you be patient enough for that.

Animals will react accordingly, so if they catch a whiff of your scent, they’ll bolt. You’ve got to play smart and stay upwind of them to catch animals off-guard. There are also the game that will attack you, like bears and mountain lions, if you get too close. You’ll “die” in a sense, with the only consequence being that you’ll lose all the game/trophies you’ve collected so far. 

You can also watch animals as they live out their life: deer fight with each other, hawks swoop down to catch fish from the river, lions hunt deer, etc. Deer Hunter uses ragdoll physics; animals will flip around and react accordingly when getting shot. The game, oddly enough, also employs bullet time and if your bullet is a kill shot, the camera will attach itself onto the bullet and follow the bullet until it strikes the unlucky beast.

The areas you’ll be hunting in will be huge. You can spend a lot of time trying to just get around. Luckily, there will be a horse and ATV for you to use, but you can’t shoot when riding those (yes, I did ask about that). You can’t swim, so if you shoot a deer across the river, you’ll have to find a way across AND need to remember where you killed the deer as you won’t have a marker telling you where to go. You can wound animals, too, and you’ll have to track the wounded animal down. It’ll keep going until it bleeds to death, so you can spend a while just tracking the creature by its footprints and blood trail.

The previous Deer Hunter game for the PC had a very outgoing community and started up tournaments through the Deer Hunter forums. For this new Deer Hunter, the team have now made the tournaments official and added them to both versions of the game. The tournaments will consist of players going to a certain area and using specific weapons to catch specific game. SouthLogic Studios (the developer) will be partnering up with companies to give away prizes to the winners of these tournaments on the PC side. You’ll also be able to play with other players side-by-side in non-tournament modes and talk to each other as you hunt. 

The demo ended with, no joke, a little baby fawn getting shot right in the ass, bullet time and all. That is definitely one way to leave an impression on someone. Deer Hunter Tournament will be out sometime this fall for the Xbox 360 and PC.

Hamza Aziz