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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hunting Video Game Prepares You for Wildlife Mauling, While Monitoring Your Heart Rate

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2012 at 10:30 AM


Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2013 is a video game that uses an innovative controller, the Top Shot Fearmaster, to measure players' heartbeats and breathing patterns while they hunt their virtual prey. It's shaped like a gun, much like the ones you would see in an arcade, but features two metal plates where you grip the rifle, in order to measure your heart rate and an infrared sensor to measure stability.

The game uses the information collected by this controller, along with the steadiness of the players' aim, to determine how nervous the hunter is. If you are nervous your vision blurs and you will not be able to zoom in on your targets' vital organs to make that crucial kill shot. If you're calm and collected then you are able to slow down time, zoom in, and deliver a clean kill shot.

The Top Shot Fearmaster
  • The Top Shot Fearmaster

The heartbeat monitoring is a really nifty system, and works as promised. I was part of a group that tested the new Top Shot Fearmaster out. We had one guy who was too nervous and couldn't get his breathing under control. So we laughed as he constantly shot the dirt in front of a male Lion, causing the entire pride to immediately rush over and maul him.

Now, this game is not a hunting simulator, like Cabela's Hunting Expeditions, which also comes out on Oct. 23rd. It's a fast-paced first person shooter meant to excite, scare, and entertain the player. That being said, this game could definitely double as a police training simulator for what to do when a lion jumps out of it's enclosure in the SF Zoo.

The animals in this game use group tactics to attack you, which adds excitement to each battle. One lion will distract you as another sneaks behind and jumps on your back. Luckily, there is a feature where you have a split second to press a certain button that will pop up on the screen for a chance to turn around, slow down time, and shoot the animal in mid air as it flies towards you.

I was able to stay composed while playing, and got off some clean kill shots. But I expected as much because I passed a similar test at the Scientology center in L.A. (I went in on a dare). And although the Top Shot Fearmaster was a little more technologically advanced (the Scientology thing looked like two soda cans tied to a toddler's play toy by some string) the idea was basically the same.

The expert scientologist used questions like, "How do you feel about your family?" to try to incite fear in me. This game uses lighting, ominous soundtracks, and triggered dramatic events to try to do the same thing.

And although the gameplay didn't have me jumping or feeling nervous, I did have a good time playing the co-op maneater mode. It's basically a horde mode where waves of lions attack you as you and your partner protect each other and accomplish some goals, like fixing a broken radio. It's also nice that all the scenery, like waterfalls, snowcapped mountains, and cliff sides are beautifully animated.

There is also a story mode that has about four hours of gameplay to it. It features a story line about two brothers who lost their father to a tragic attack in Alaska. Wait a god damn second ... Is this the story of Grizzly Man's kids!? Wait no, nevermind, it can't be, because there is no karate chop attack when predators get close.

The developers say this game is more geared towards that Call of Duty crowd who is used to shooting first and asking questions later. That's a big shift from other Cabela titles which include sneaking around in the bushes hoping animals don't smell you, finding vantage points, and shooting rests. Dangerous Hunts 2013 is more about just straight up fighting animal, which honestly is a pretty silly idea for a game. I found myself laughing, thinking, "What are these big cats so pissed about anyways?"

My bonafide Call of Duty expert and not-so-little brother, Chris, was there to try out the game first hand. He is a quick-scoping, high sensitivity-setting, noob-crushing CoD enthusiast. Or for short, what I like to call a CoDsucker.

The demonstrator handed him the Top Shot Fearmaster and instructed him to shoot at the heart of the alpha male of the pride. Chris calmed himself and lined up the shot. The game zoomed in and showed the vital organs of the lion. That's when the scope started to move upwards towards the lion's head. The red dot landed right inbetween the eyes of the beast as Chris pulled the trigger.

"That's what's up," he declared proudly, handing the rifle back to the demonstrator and heading back to his seat, who began to explain that hunters never shoot their trophys in the head.

But he might as well have been speaking a different language, because for the Call of Duty generation there is simply nothing better than achieving a head shot. For them, a head shot is basically like the greatest orgasm you've ever had multiplied a thousand times over. When they pull that right trigger and just blow something's head off (whether it be a terrorist, commie, Nazi, or in the case lion) something happens in their brain that is so powerful and habit forming science can still not quite understand it completely.

And as far as scaring the Call of Duty generation, this game isn't going to cut it. These kids were raised in a post-9/11, post-Columbine world. Your Mickey Mouse is their Sasha Grey. Your NBA is their UFC. They see more blood, guts, and boobs in five minutes on their smartphones than you saw in your entire teenage life.

But more importantly than all that, there is almost nothing that will take them away from their beloved CoD. And if there is something out there that will do it, it's certainly not Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2013.

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About The Author

Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome is SF Weekly's former music editor.


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