I recently covered Big Game Hunter 2012, which is an all-new arcade-type shooter in the Cabela's series of hunting games. There is another game in the franchise coming out, the ominously titled Cabela's Survival: Shadows of Katmai. Instead of being a straightforward hunting game, it focuses more on actual survival with a third-person story mode.
The game stars pilot and “intrepid explorer” Logan James, whose plane crashes in the relentless Alaskan tundra. Apparently, Logan was paid $10,000 to deliver his female companion Dr. West to a mysterious mission. Hopefully, that amount covers insurance, for things get all shades of screwed up from there.
Cabela's Survival: Shadows of Katmai (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii)
To be released: November 1, 2011
The barrage of noise coming from the plane crash have drawn the attention of a pack of opportunistic wolves. Armed with only a flare gun, Logan's first challenge is to drive the wolves away while he struggles to look for safety and supplies.
Like Big Game Hunter, Shadows of Katmai uses the Top Shot Elite peripheral. The analog stick attached on the rear of the gun handle is accessible enough to be used for moving around while you shoot your gun with the trigger.
Right after this, we get a flashback to a scene on the plane. We hear Dr. West having a heated argument with Logan with insinuating jabs about Logan's piloting skills. Sexual tension! The game at this point jumps into first-person mode as the player takes control of the plane, navigating through the narrow crevices of the rocky alp terrain.
Back to the present, the next scene has Logan grabbing a shovel and digging for his snow-covered equipment as fast as he can. Wolf stragglers are still abound, and it is up to the player to do some quick digging and rigorous button mashing to get Logan out of there alive.
A new control feature is introduced at this point, and with the analog stick, you can melee wolves that are stalking you one by one. You can also roll out of the way to evade attacks. Eventually, you are able to reveal your first handgun in the game. With the press of the A button, you can focus your shots, zooming in specific body parts you want to take down. This is especially helpful as ammo should be saved up at this point -- the wolves will keep on coming at you until you're finished getting your stuff.
Afterwards, we see Logan climbing up a mountain in a valiant effort to reach a cave on higher ground. The snowstorm was as thick as static that you can barely see what was happening on the screen. As Logan makes the climb, a flock of ravens start lashing at him, and you can gun those bitches away with your one hand without even missing a step. You know, because in videogames, you don't need to worry about physics or recoil.
That pretty much sums up what was revealed for the story mode. Tim May, VP of Production at Activision Licensing, shared with us some interesting plot details that players can look forward to.
To explain the mystery of where Dr. West went, it seems like she was severely injured after the crash. As such, it becomes Logan's manly obligation to help her out and shove her into a moose's carcass. Seriously. If you watch enough Bear Grylls, you would know that this is for insulation and not for recreation. There is also promise of a dog sledding level, something the developers seemed excited about, so it might actually be really cool.
Aside from the main storyline, there are also shooting galleries included in the game similar to what I have seen in Big Game Hunter 2012. These arcade-type modes that come with the game include survival, sharpshooter, quick draw and trek -- all pretty self-explanatory.
I think it's interesting that they tried add bits of true-to-life nature survival tactics in the game. On the other hand, the developers had to make a compromise between delivering action-based gameplay and realistic survival lessons. The market does tend to gravitate to the former, so that is mostly what we get. Too bad because we get a game that tries to deviate from the other games in the Cabela's series, but as a standalone action-adventure game, I felt that it does little to actually stand out.