Videogames and shooting things go hand in hand. Shooting animals though is often frowned upon in most games – there’s either a penalty or no benefit in shooting them. Big Buck Hunter takes the opposite approach and seeks to offer a hunting game where you get points for getting the best kills on defenceless animals.
Ignoring the rights or wrongs about animal hunting, purely from the perspective of a game only you should be aware that this is fiercely in the pro-hunt camp. Which in the context of the game is fine, however it’s also fiercely in the American redneck camp, woo-hooing and drinking moonshine at every opportunity. It may not be to everyone’s tastes.
A caveat before I begin to dissect Big Buck Hunter Arcade on PS4. I have played this game a lot in the arcades and I love it. Hoisting big coloured shotguns and aiming for critical points on animals and being awarded points for accuracy and placements in a round-robin style with friends is great fun. The over the top atmosphere and presentation is great in the arcade setting.
The home version however, is not the same. Put plainly, it’s terrible. You have the choice to tackle a few different hunts and from the start, the choice is much more limited than the now fifteen year old arcade version. Still, I was interested to see how the gameplay transferred over to the home format. Would they use Move controllers or even the Dual Shock 4 to aim?
Sadly no. Aiming is done by moving a cursor around with the left stick and firing with the trigger. A gun in first-person style moves to point to your cursor and you have to scroll it to try and hit the moving animals. The acceleration is terrible so even adjusting the sensitivity just about made me able to hit things but pin-point accuracy was a pipe dream. A fundamental part of a shooting game should be the shooting. To get this wrong is a bit of a problem.
If the aiming were to work then it wouldn’t even rectify what is a poor game. Hitting the target results in zero feedback unless you get a critical shot. Even then, there’s no obvious indicator on how good your accuracy was – the arcade version would show on a diagram where you hit, but there is simply no indication here. Whether you’re on a single hunt or a rolling season type mode, the game plays exactly the same aside from an accumulating score.
There is a target practice mode which tries to at least add a bit of variety. Simply shooting targets dotted around the map or some of the more interesting environments (such as an old man sitting in a tub of moonshine where you have to shoot the bottles, presumably before he drinks himself into a coma) don’t really add much at all to this. They actually serve even more to highlight the flaws in the aiming system as you’re quickly flicking back and forth to take out targets quickly with precision, opposed to tracking a deer running across the screen before having a break to reset for the next one.
Big Buck Hunter Arcade is extremely light on content and of that it does provide is seriously limited by a terrible control system which cripples the basis of the entire game. It is impossible to recommend.
Reviewed on PS4