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Review by: Jonathan Houghton
Published: October 24, 2000
When one pauses to consider the effects that time has on the honored tradition of video game sequels, a very noticeable pattern develops among multi-titled series of every genre. Some of the more well known developers have found a philosophy that seems to breed classics, creating sheer greatness such as that which can be found in LucasArts’ Monkey Island adventures, or id Software’s Quake series. This principle of design is nothing more detailed than a single phrase, “Find what works best, and stick with it,” and while such elements as graphics and sound quality will doubtless evolve with each successive iteration, each piece of truly classic entertainment software retains the heart and soul of its predecessors. With the Monkey Island series it is the gut-twisting humor and unforgettable characters, while in titles like Quake, the core style of gameplay is the memorable component that remains intact. Bearing this in mind, the same principle can be applied to the Deer Hunter cycle with the latest and greatest update, in which the developers have taken requests into consideration and made a title which throws out many of the negative elements in the prequels, yet remains true to the essence of what made the original such a stunning success.
In Deer Hunter 4, you will naturally assume the role of a hunter at the beginning of deer season, with your objective being no less than the total annihilation of all the bucks that come between the sights of your weapon. You start out in the game by creating a character, and Sunstorm has tried again to give the creation process some new twists other than the standard male/female fare. The extra addition this time around is a teenage hunter model for those of us who feel the older ’40s textures don’t appropriately suit us. Once you give your character a name and finish the creation process, you can start outfitting yourself for the hunt. As you should always do first, you have the option of taking your weapons for some target practice to get them sighted at a comfortable range. You will also need to keep the range in mind for each weapon you sight, as the realistic ballistics data used here will cause your shots to drop over long distances, requiring you to adjust your shots appropriately. Most of the old favorites are back in the arsenal, including the .44 Magnum which can be loaded with a nice scope, creating a combo that would bring a tear to the eye of Harry Callaghan. More challenging weaponry is also available, with the muzzleloader leading the difficulty charge for rifles and the recurve bow being the most archaic piece of archery gear; both fill their intended positions well, being hard to shoot and slow to reload, making accuracy priceless.
Equipment selection plays a large part in Deer Hunter 4, just as it does in all similar titles. The proper combination of scents, lures and calls is often the difference between luring in the trophy bucks and the families of does and fawns. The selection is simple this time around, with a very manageable number of scents and calls to choose from, leaving you to know the proper order in which to use your items instead of worrying about which scents to pick out of a group of ten or fifteen. New to the sport this time is the inclusion of tripod stands and ground blinds, only previously seen in games like Bird Hunter: Wild Wings Edition. The cover pieces tend to give you at the most 180 degrees of maneuverability to work with, which makes using the direction of the wind important to help ensure that any nearby deer will actually walk into your field of vision instead of coming up behind you.
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