Last year, the folks at Glu brought a new kind of shooter to the App Store in Deer Hunter 3D. Instead of the usual tropes we’ve seen repeatedly, the focus was on slaying wildlife game in their habitat. To the chagrin of organizations like PETA, a new entry to the Deer Hunter franchise has arrived just in time for summer. Based in the motherland, Deer Hunter: African Safari expands on the formula of the previous game, but it is enough to challenge the mainstays at the top of the charts?
For the uninitiated, Deer Hunter is all about taking down animals using a variety of real-life weapons in exotic locales. No gaudy build-up, contrived storylines or other nonsense to justify the hunt gets in the way. This is a hunting simulation, and there are a ton of mechanics that aim to replicate the feeling of successfully taking down the target.
Click click boom.
The main campaign mode will have you starting out in South Africa. To progress, you need to earn a specific number of points by successfully killing game within a day. Moving along a map helps you find places in the country to hunt, and it’s almost like a random battle from an RPG.
After diving down into an area with targets, you’ll see all kinds of wall-mount material like zebras, buffalo, or lions. Successfully completing the level objectives opens up new difficulty settings and countries like Cameroon and Tanzania.
The gameplay functions and mechanics in Deer Hunter: African Safari are essentially the same as last year’s game, hate it or love it. To aim, you tap and drag a big reticule across the screen. Upon lining up the target in your cross-hairs, just tap the screen again to fire. Attempts at realism come with the random ‘shakes’ that leave your gun swaying around. Using a scoped weapon allows some control to steady your hand, but the controls never cease to feel mechanical and clunky.
Time to disturb the peace.
Headshots are the cleanest way to get one-shot kills, and getting them is easy. Once a shot is fired, all the wildlife lounging around goes running for the hills. On occasion you’ll get a raging buffalo or lion coming after you, but assuming you’re not stuck in the scope of death, putting a bullet between their eyes shouldn’t be a problem.
One of our big complaints from last year’s game was the lack of depth and variety. Unfortunately, that problem still remains. With the exception of varying point totals required for advancement, every level feels the same. It’s a shame too, because the game looks and sounds amazing. Within a couple of hours, you’ll see all the locations and animals the game has to offer. We recognize the attempts at fixing this problem through achievements, upgrading skills, and weapons, but the gameplay still grows stagnant, fast.
It’s a shame that Deer Hunter: African Safari didn’t take a huge, evolutionary jump. On paper, it has all the features you’d want in a simulation-style hunting game. The biggest innovation that this franchise would benefit from would be more differentiation in the day to day missions. We can appreciate realism, but the fun can’t be left behind in the process.