What I’ve been playing: The Hunter

Yep, still playing The Hunter pretty regularly. As a person who never, ever would have picked up a hunting game on my own, without the glowing recommendations of the Gamers With Jobs podcast crew, I’m pretty surprised the game has hooked me this hard.

It’s a subtle, elegant game, and if you haven’t tried it, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Even if you’re like me, and you wince at the idea of hunting in real life, this is an experience that fans of gaming really shouldn’t miss it.

Julian “Rabbit” Murdoch’s review from last month on the Gamers with Jobs site is a good read, as is the GWJ forum thread about The Hunter. The Hunter website also has a list of reviews.

After three weeks of play, I have 55 hours in-game. In that time, I’ve taken 101 shots, and killed harvested 77 mule deer, whitetail deer, elk, or turkey. That’s not even two shots an hour, and not even one and a half kills an hour. If you have mental image of this game being some kind of drunken Redneck Deer Huntin’ nightmare, you couldn’t be more off-base. The Hunter has more in common with Thief, or Deus Ex played stealthily, or Splinter Cell, than it does to FPS carnage.

The Hunter is free to try, although you’re limited to just a few weapons and you’ll only see mule deer on the island. That was enough to get me hooked and to get me to sign up for a 3-month hunting license ($12.99) and to buy a 30.06 rifle to hunt elk ($4.50), and an elk bugle caller and deer grunt caller (each under $1). With 55 hours under my belt, and less than $20 invested, and another 3 months left on my license (I got an extra month free on my license by signing up before the end of April), this is one of the best gaming values for my money that I’ve encountered in a long time.

If you enjoy stealth games, and you enjoy beautifully rendered 3D environments, and you’re a statistics fan (think Team Fortress 2 stat tracking), and you like solving puzzles, The Hunter is a brilliantly executed video game.

If you’re an extremely impatient gamer who enjoys making things explode, you might not expect to get the same level of enjoyment I’ve experienced, although I’m also a big fan of making things explode.

If you want to know more, pop on by the GWJ forum thread and ask questions; you’ll get some enthusiastic responses from other people who thought “Me? Play a hunting game? Nahhh….”. One of the game developers has also popped into the thread a couple times with some strategy tips and hints of upcoming additions to the game.

Oh, and before Redneck Rampage fans eat me up for dissing their game, I had fun playing it back in the day, and the soundtrack rocked :) It’s just not anything like The Hunter.

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