By: Steve Maiwurm.
Publisher: Sierra Sports
I'll admit I'm not much of a deer hunter. I have done it a few times and I've watched others from the cozy
warmth of the cabin for at least a dozen seasons. Never actually hit one, though, as it does make quite a mess.
At any rate, after hearing so much about Deer Hunter I and II, I thought I'd give Trophy Buck a test drive.
Man, the pictures on the packaging were really impressive and it was 3DFX compatible! I was going to be learning
about hunting, getting real tips from real pros and entering into a real 3D environment. Well, I'm sorry to say
it, but Trophy Buck is so lame it ought to be shot and put out of its misery.
Don't get me wrong - there are some things that are quite good. The installation goes well, but I would recommend
monitoring it as Sierra likes to put all kinds of worthless icons and URLs on your system. The interface is actually
quite intuitive and well presented. You can go on a quick hunt, pick a spot from several areas of the country or go
up against other hunters with a networked game. Another area I actually liked was the target range. Here, you can
test shotguns with slugs, a plethora of rifles with various scopes and loads, bows and arrows and even a muzzleloader
for the history buffs out there. There's plenty of targets and standing deer to blast at and I should mention the
sound effects are quite good. I was impressed with how it's impossible to hold your weapon perfectly still and you
really had to get the knack of pulling the trigger right when your target was in sight. That was about the closest
thing to true hunting about the entire game. Anyway, as you shoot at a target, an exploded view of the target
appears on your screen so you can see where you hit. This is pretty cool when you're blasting 300 yards downrange.
A couple problems here - first of all, not every shot showed up on the exploded view even when I hit it, which was
kind of annoying. And secondly, there was no distance markers to see how far you were shooting. Heck, they even
have those at the driving range. How the hell am I going to judge distance when I go after the big buck?
Oh well, let's jump in the truck and go to the Tama Riverbottoms of Iowa.
For my first few hunts I set up for tons of deer and little pressure from other hunters (you can pick three levels
of each.) I plopped myself down next to a creek on a cold December morning having chosen a pump shotgun with slugs.
There's a keen button called "Tips" that's supposedly context sensitive and something a real pro would tell you.
After a few minutes of this guy's "tips" I wanted to shoot him. He's got some real winners here folks, for example,
"If a deer doesn't move after you shoot, shoot again" No kidding, genius. Do you suppose because of the wind he
didn't hear us??? Another classic - "The biggest bucks hide in the deep woods" Hey, we all saw Bambi's mom get
blasted in the meadow while the big stud lurked in the shadows. But, I digress...
So, my first thought was I would "still" hunt. You know, get in a tree stand and wait for the King of the Forest
to stroll by and hammer him. Except you can't climb trees in this game. Hell, you can't even hide behind them or
crouch down. You can't peer around a big oak to see how close the critters are getting without scaring them away.
And if you try hiding behind a tree, then lift your weapon to fire at the unsuspecting prey, nine times out of ten,
your barrel will hit the damn tree. So I gave up on "still" hunting and decided to stand near some bushes and hope
some hapless creature would venture by. I rattled my horns and blew my buck call and sprayed the area with
doe-in-heat scent. Finally, a small buck came by and I blasted him. It almost seemed too easy as he was running
over a hill quite a ways out. But "Tip Boy" told me "Good shot, a clean kill. Go pick up your deer."
I was thinking, "Thank you God," 'cause there's no way in hell I hit that thing. Anyway, we sauntered over to the
kill and when I got close, a little screen pops up showing me what I hit, how much it weighed and the Boone & Crocker
score (a measure of antler size). I closed the window and my dead deer is gone! Just a little blood on the snow.
Hey, I wanted to see where the miracle shot nailed him. And just where is my gut pile and cleaning instructions??
This is as PC as hunting can get folks.
Anyway, by now, you can probably tell I'm not too keen on Trophy Buck. But I haven't even told you about the worst
thing it has to offer. The graphics on this game are horrid. I've had better resolution playing Wolfenstein on a
486. As you move through this 3D world, you have the option to use your mouse, but I just couldn't get the hang of
it and defaulted to the arrow keys. Let me give you an idea of just how bad the graphics are. During the winter
months, deer are known to eat bark off trees. Bucks will rub their antlers on the bark as well, leaving marks.
This is called "deer sign" and Tip Boy will let you know that deer sign is present. So, you're supposed to look
at a tree and notice the deer sign. I'm sorry, but there's no way in hell you could see that on a tree. "Oh, you
mean that collection of squares over there that if I squint looks like the outline of a tree?" You get the idea.
Just to be sure I ran this game on Rick's machine with dual Voodoo II cards and it looked exactly the same. The 3Dfx compatibility seems to make no difference whatsoever.
So, in summary, this game is fun for about 15 minutes. Sorry, but a real letdown. I never even tried a networked
game as it sounded so queer. "Hey, Billy Bob, let's git on the net and see who can nail the biggest buck!" Hey,
maybe if you could hunt other hunters it could be cool. But wait, they already have that game...
96 Megs Ram, 8 Meg Rage Pro