Here's a hunting game that evens the odds. In Cabela's Dangerous Hunts you won't merely blast Bambi and friends with impunity, but you'll also square off against wolves, grizzlies, rhinos, leopards, and other animals that can kill you in a heartbeat. The game does a great job of startling you with sudden attacks from these beasts, but this isn't really a fast-paced action game. Despite featuring an arcade-style mode, Dangerous Hunts is more of a slow-paced sim. Whether you find it intense or terribly tedious will probably depend on your hunting knowledge and patience.
Action zone mode is a bust.
The game's main selling point is its diversity. You'll encounter 27 species, ranging from the innocuous whitetail deer to more spectacular and exotic animals, like the polar bear, moose, wild boar, zebra, hyena, and impala. You'll go head-to-head with these animals in 12 different locales scattered across North America and Africa. You'll trek through the wilds of Alaska, British Columbia, Colorado, New Mexico, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, among others. Each of these regions offers two hunting grounds, and each can be visited during different seasons.
You'll encounter unique groups of species as you traipse through snow-covered pine forests, sneak among the brush of the African plains, or wend your way along babbling streams that snake through high mountain passes. Each hunting area is big enough to give you a sense of scope, but it's not so big as to require hours to cross it. In fact, some areas will give you transportation, like a snowmobile, to make movement even easier. That said, most of the maps ultimately boil down to a string of small ravines that conveniently channel you through one narrow lane into another.
Dangerous Hunts offers three game modes. Action zone pits you against successive waves of charging animals. After you kill all the nearby threats, you head through a glowing green portal to the next area. This mode is lamely repetitive, too short, and too easy. Anyone with a half-decent aim and reflexes should be able to breeze through all of the levels on the hardest difficulty setting in 15 or 20 minutes.
Things get better with the simulation-oriented quick hunt mode. Here you get full access to all the hunting areas, game, and gear--and there's no unlocking required. You can pick a difficulty setting that determines how easily you'll find and lure your prey, in addition to how much damage you can sustain if you're mauled, gored, trampled, or otherwise assaulted. During your hunts, you'll need to obey the laws. Remember, you can only shoot legal game (or other animals purely in self-defense), lest the game warden send you packing. Oddly, you'll only encounter one animal of the species you're after during each hunt, and it will sometimes be killed by predators before you can get to it, which is frustrating.
To find and kill your prey, you'll get to choose from an array of weapons and gear, though you're limited in how much you can carry. Weapons include semiautomatic, bolt-, and lever-action rifles, as well as a few shotguns, revolvers, bows, and knives. You can use different scopes or binoculars to get a bead on your target, though it's hard to adjust their magnifications smoothly. Other gear includes clothing to suit the climate, a map or GPS unit, calls, decoys, lures, and more.