The sport of hunting deer is one not recognised for its popularity in the UK, sure it takes place, but the sport holds nowhere near as much weight as it does over in America, nonetheless, countless computer games have focused on the odd habit, and Excalibur Publishing have brought the crazy pastime to their Extra Play catalogue with Deer Drive from the experienced simulator developers at SCS Software, but does it really compare with their impressive sim background.
Long gone are the innocent days of the late 90s Deer Hunter and spoof Deer Avenger, nowadays hunting is a big deal in gaming, and massive series’ like Cabela are available on all major consoles and no longer specialised on the PC platform, in fact, Deer Drive itself is an arcade hunting game that has been released for both PC and Wii.
Getting into Deer Drive is not difficult, and the hunting sim is by far the easiest of all first person shooter games to wean even the most unexperienced into computer games; there’s no moving around, just pointing and shooting at the moving targets and meeting your quota of dead animals in a time limit to progress to the next round.
Now you won’t simply be finding deer down the end of your scope, and whilst bucks are your primary target you’ll be picking shots at moose, bears, ducks, rabbits, squirrels and just about every varmint under the sun, but most important of all, you don’t want to be shooting does!
Deer Drive is very much an arcade game, and rather than hand you a range of weapons, or dangle a few upgrades in your face, progressing through the rounds will unlock a series of opportunities to gain limited enhancements such as better weapons, more astute visuals or even faster reload times if you manage to kill the specific deer holding a pickup, bit like the old arcade shooters like Virtua Cop and Time Crisis.
The arcade stylings are further exemplified with the party mode that allows local pass and play multiplayer for up to four players competing against each other for the best score across hunting matches, to make things more interesting, the matches are littered with pickups to distract your opponents from shooting their targets, pretty much everything that the game delivers sounds like the perfect game for the Wii, but for PC?
The real question is if there is still a market for the innocent hunt of deer when the ever-present allure of modern day first person shooters give you an exciting range of guns and targets that will shoot back at you. That said Deer Drive isn't just point and shoot with no consequence, as there is always the potential danger of a bear or moose attack to take you out if you aren’t paying attention.
Variety is the spice of life, which is adequately diverse when it comes to the sport of hunting, however Deer Drive seems to lack in every other vital ingredient that a hunting game requires, most important of all is the absence of a change of scenery; there’s only three locations in the game that are all very similar, and there are very few true simulation qualities present making Deer Drive more of an arcade game.
Now whilst Deer Drive doesn’t have the true simulation qualities of The Hunter, or the scope of the Cabela’s series, it does have the advantage to being able to run on practically any low end PC, but generally the game feels closer to the original Deer Hunter series, and doesn't really square up to its peers.
Unfortunately Deer Drive does not bring very much innovation to the hunting sim when you consider the far more involved simulators already out there. However what it does offer is a simple, no frills arcade style deer hunting experience that will run on practically any PC out there 3/5.
Deer Drive is available now in all good retail stores in Excalibur Publishing’s Extra Play range for the SRP of £9.99.