I’m not going to beat around the bush — it sucks to play this game. It’s not that it’s offensively terrible or fundamentally broken, as it actually runs fine. It’s just the quality on every aspect of this title is so overwhelmingly mediocre at best. The game is supposed to be all about highlighting the thrill of hunting big game in Africa, but not even for one second do you feel anything close to resembling a “thrill.”
The main attraction in Cabela’s African Adventures is the Safari mode. It’s the banal five or so hours you’ll spend in Africa with a cringe-inducing storyline barely keeping onscreen actions justified. You play a big-game hunter with a cliché testosterone-laden voice whose sole motivation for hunting is money. Rounding out the so-called cast of characters is the higher-up research guy stuffing your pockets with paper and a random lady on the radio that, out of nowhere, becomes a love interest in one of the more unbearably horrid and unintentional laugh-out-loud scenes in the game.
Cabela’s boring-ass African Adventures is all about going on boring hunts and killing boring animals, which results in a steaming volcano, spewing its god-awful filth and dreck everywhere until the credits roll. You may think I’m being too harsh, but I’m not.
The dialogue and presentation come together to create this glorious cluster of all the lowest common denominators of the poorest storytelling possible. The cutscenes are done via inFAMOUS-style comic slides (the only difference being these drawings are insanely lifeless) and literally do nothing for you in terms of making the experience compelling. The voice acting (aside from the main guy) isn’t actually tortuous, it’s the dialogue that will have you wishing you were watching Adam Sandler’s Jack & Jill instead of having to endure the game’s exposition. Line after line, you are just constantly wishing that there was no story at all and, honestly, that would be such a vast improvement to the game’s single-player mode.
The graphics on display here are impressive…for the year 2005. It looks like a PS2 title at its worst and an early PS3 title at its best. Of course, it’s not entirely fair to really kick this title’s ass in the graphics department given its budget, but still, it’s not a pleasant journey to traverse and the monotonous and uber-generic art and textures only add to the game’s ability to lure you to sleep while you still have the controller in hand.
So, how does the gameplay hold up? Well, just as well as the game’s presentation — it’s tedious and trite. It actually functions just fine but the lack of any compelling aspects really hurt it and render its functionality useless. It’s simply not fun at all to play. I don’t know what the demographic this is aimed for but even if it was for kids (it’s got to be), there is a precisely zero percent chance of having any fun. Aiming is incredibly sensitive and it’s only heightened in close-quarters, steering your vehicle is competent but way too stiff, and the upgrades are nowhere near engaging enough to really motivate you to play more. Most abilities you simply couldn’t care about since you can play the game just fine without them. Also, it’s maddening as hell every time your car runs into a tree or rock as you have to wait a good three seconds before your car moves. That may sound like a small amount of time, but it adds up quickly.
Mission variety is woefully and pathetically awful too. The Hunts come in only two flavors: you either sneak around in some bushes around brain-dead AI or you have to survive an onslaught of repetitive lions, leopards, rhinos, or elephants. That is literally it. You drive from one place to another to constantly cycle through these two repetitive missions over and over and over and over. None of the creatures you hunt are actually satisfying to take down. It’s impossible to have a singular moment or even a nanosecond of enjoyment or sense of fascination with killing some of Africa’s most renowned animals. Not even the so-called “legendary” animals do anything — they’re just slightly larger versions of their own species! Oh, my bad, I just remembered that sometimes they’re a different color.
When it all comes down to it, there is absolutely nothing to recommend about Cabela’s African Adventures. Whether it’d be gameplay, presentation, or the tedious and barely-baked Galleries mode (an on-rails shooting bore), every aspect screams “Do not buy me!” And again, you may think I’m being too harsh, but I’m not. Trust me.
This review was based on an Xbox 360 copy of the game, which was provided for us.