About This Place

First started in late 2007, Kasey's Mobile Game Review (then just a regular feature of Kasey's Korner) started as a simul-post between here and IGN. Later I realized there's no reason to post it twice, when I can use the traffic on my own site. so, here we are, in 2010, and the mobile game industry has grown a bit. What do you think?

KMGR of "Big Range Hunting 2"

Half-opened bolt on a Winchester Model 70.
Big Range Hunting 2 is a hunting sim that gives you multiple locations hunting multiple types of game, be it predator, prey, or just birds. You can even fish in this game and be a completely sportsman. With four locations, multiple missions per location, some random exploration, and infinite free play, this game gets the right balance between "rail shooter", deer hunter, and a more complicated shooting sim, AND fishing, all on a mobile.

You start off hunting black bear, deer, and turkey in Maine, and fish for trout and bass. You then move to Alaska for polar bear, moose, duck, and two types of salmon. If you got all the missions right, you then move to Louisiana, where you hunt gators, whitetail deer, pheasants, and catfish. If you graduate from those, you go to Africa and hunt lions, impalas, goose, and tigerfish. Graphics are good, as different terrain are nicely depicted, both in 2D overhead and the 3D third-person view.

Your "guide" is Julie, drawn sort of anime-style, way too provacative (in a HALTER?) for hunting, but then, this is a game. She gives you the intro, the "events" briefing, and congratulates you when you complete the region.

You start at the 2D overhead view, called GPS view in the game, which you use to explore the map, and the map is distinctive from region to region. You start at one of outposts in the area. At the outpost, you can purchase more equipment if you've earned enough money through the hunts, you can participate in one of the special events (i.e. missions), or if it's available, travel to a different region. Equipment is mostly ammo, though you can also buy lures for fishing, better weapons, better camo, and better fishing rods (explained later).

Once you exit the outpost, you're at the GPS view. To help your hunt, the "GPS view" also indicates the trails of animals spotted within visible range (and the animals themselves, when you seethem), the current wind direction, and the direction of the outpost. If you go to a "dock", you can move onto water in dinghy, and there are certain 'fishing spots' designated on the water. You will find a lot of docks here and there, even a few bridges. And beware, amphib predators like a gator WILL attack you on water if you get too close.

Wind direction is important because many animals use scent to detect danger or prey, and you don't want to be upwind of them, else they run before you can target them.

The world happens with or without you. Predators hunt prey, prey run from predatosr, bird stop to graze then fly off, fish... well, they swim. You can bypass them, or hunt them. It is up to you. The GPS view also indicates your view range. You can follow the trail (and sometimes, you have to hit OK to identify which type of trail is being left by what animal), and if you see the predator or prey in the view range, hit OK to begin the hunt. Remember, if you get too close to prey they'll bolt (including birds). If you get too close to predator they come after you. In MGS fashion, the animals, when alerted, gets a ! (exclamation mark) above their head, THEN they bolt. So keep your distance and watch out for shifting winds.

Once the hunt starts, you go into a third-person behind-the-shoulder view, which is 360 degree rotatable (just like "Deer Hunter"). You can switch weapons (camera is considered a weapon here) and take aim. If the target is offscreen, you get a left/right indicator telling you which way to turn to bring it into view. You could also release your trusty dog, which will either retrieve the shot animal for you, or act as a temporary distraction, giving you time to shoot.

To make the game interesting, the predators in this game are bloodthirsty... If they sense your presence, they come after you, be it gators, bears, or lions. Better have your weapon ready just in case. And if they get to point-blank range... You better aim for the vulnerable spots or you're going home in a bag. (Which means you restart at the nearest outpost, having lost a bit of progress) If you are wounded, go to the nearest outpost to get healed.

Many different weapons are available, but not all right at start. You start with shotgun and hunting rifle. Later you will get access to muzzleloader (a big shotgun, but slower loading), auto-shotgun (semi-auto, actually, faster shooting), scoped rifle (better hunting rifle), "sniper" rifle (with sniper scope and crosshair), bolt action sniper rifle (more stable), and crossbow (with two types of arrows, regular and steel). Different weapons have different characteristics and are used in different situations. Bird hunting virtually requires the use of a shotgun, while deer hunting is done with rifle, especially long-range takedowns. Crossbow is nearly silent, and useful for taking out a small herd.

In addition to the weapons, you also have a camera, and you can purchase a "caller" (as equipment at an outpost), which attracts prey to your location.

The shooting interface (which also includes the camera) is simple: a cross-hair appears on screen and you just point it at the target and when ready, hit OK to shoot. If you exhaust the magazine, reload is automatic, or you can hold the OK to manually reload. To further help you, a weapons crosshair will have a small red overlay if you aimmed at an animals vulnerable spot, such as head or heart. Camera has a viewfinder caret, and if you take the picture properly you'll get an ID of the animal, including its weight/size/type.

If there are no animals in the immediate view you are prompted to go back to GPS view and move along. Any animals killed then is counted, with bounty amount, weight, type/gender, as well as where your shot(s) went. When you move back to outpost, the largest are then added to your "trophy" collection.

The fishing or angling part is slightly less intuitive. You have to be on water, by moving onto water via one of the docks in the GPS view. You should then move to one of the fishing spots on the GPS view, and press OK to start fishing. You start with basic lure, and can buy more. You can also purchase better rods. There are four phases to "angling", aimming, casting, hooking, and reeling.

Aimming is determining where to cast. Even at a fishing spot, where the fish is almost visible as shadows from the boat, you will have to know which way to aim. Look at the shadows, and use the 360 degree fishfinder to help you determine which way you want to cast.

Casting is basically flicking the rod so the lure will go out, land on water, and sink. There's an indicator that moves up and down, indicating castng "strength". The higher the indicator is when you cast, the further it will go. The normal rod goes about 15 yards, while the best (titanium) rod can go 25 yards or more. This allows you to reach deeper depths, where the biggest fish lie.

Once the lure is cast, you then watch the depth indicator, where the lure will hit surface, then slowly sink toward the bottom as it slowly moves back toward you. To make things simpler, the depth indicator also indicates which fish is attracted to the lure if in range, and which one is actively biting. If you got one that's biting, hit OK to "hook" the fish, then you're into the reeling/fighting stage. Don't let the line tangle at the bottom either by letting it sink too far!

Once the fish is hooked, it will start to fight by making random left/right movements. You need to follow to prevent the tension on the line from exceeding the line strength, else the line will snap. So it's random left /right movements, with occasional seconds of calm as the fish gathers strength to keep dashing back and forth. You hit OK to reel the fish in when it is not struggling hard, always seeking to not over-tension the rod and the line. When the lne length reaches zero, you got the fish!

Each land animal or fish (including birds) you bag has a bounty/value. Predators are worth more. That income is what finances your equipment and ammo reloads. However, as there is really no end to the animals and fish and birds, your potential income is unlimited. You just need to spend some time doing free-play hunting (not contrained by an "event").

The events are interesting, as not all involves shooting, which others can be a rail-shooter, or fish, and so on. Missions include "take pictures of 8 ducks", "hunt down a pack of bears", "find the outpost to the north", "catch the super-sized catfish", and so on. Each outpost has three to four "events" such as those and those can be interesting, except the time-based ones, such as "get 10 ducks, I'll tell you when your time is up". Those often have VERY tight time constraints, but with no onscreen clock or indicator, you often ran out of time searching for the latest few objectives.

The rail-shooter sequence basically has you on the back of a truck shooting at various predators trying to overtake you. It's actually quite easy, as you don't have to rotate much and the targets pretty much move into your line of fire. You simply adjust aim and shoot when ready.

You get "skill points" for completing the missions. Every 10 skill points gives you a higher rank and a special bonus, such as "fish is now less scared of your lure landing on water", or "you are now more resistant to damage caused by predators". Rank starts from "wannabe" and goes all the way up to "gator's shadow".

Graphics, as stated before, are pretty good 2D bitmaps. Not photographic, but still nicely done and good enough for the purposes. While it's not as good as the 3D games, it's quite adequate. The icons and indicators are clear and easy to read. Sound is average, but I guess you don't need too many sounds for a hunting game. Interface is clear and not too cluttered with text.

If you need practice, there are two minigames you can play: shoot the can, and skeet shooting.

Shoot-the-can is basically precision shooting, repeated. An empty can is dropped. Shoot it to bounce it back into the air. When it drops, shoot it again, and again... and again... Until you miss and it drops to the gorund. Your objective is to keep the can airborne as long as you can. If you achieve 15 seconds, you'll start over and go for 20, and so on.

Skeet shooting is the sport where you grab a shotgun and shoot at "clay pigeons", basically frisbee-like targets. You are given a goal, like 8 out of 15. If you achieve that, you get a tougher one, and so on until you fail or can no longer succeed.

My main complaints are as follows: 1) shooting FEMALE prey is usually frowned upon in hunting, esp. deer, but makes no difference in this game 2) some of the timed events are very hard to do, while the other non-timed events are very easy 3) this game isn't that different from all the other hunting games at all. One CAN do 3D hunting games on a mobile, and this ain't it. Though they are rather... minor.

All in all, Big Range Hunting manages to simplify the hunting experience while keeping the game interesting and full of variety, and free-form. Even if you finished all the events, you can still go back to the variouslocations and try to score the biggest fish, or predator, or prey, or bird... Though is is mainly for brag-to-self rights. There is no "campaign" mode per se, but you can free hunt any time you like. There's no time limit, nor a clock coutning down the seconds you need for the highscore attempt, among other things. However, those are minor quibbles. The game is fun, not TOO difficult, and if you like the subject, you can give it a try.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Pros: easy and consistent controls (except fishing)
Cons: no real improvement from Deer Hunter, except fishing

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