Image by Crowhand via FlickrDeer Hunter is one of those programs that you didn't know people would actually buy for the PC. It was cheap to develop (reputedly for less than 50000 USD) and at $20 it was far more palatable and mature than those kiddie games to adults. And thus it started a "hunting game" subgenre from the shooters. How does this version fare for the Mobile? Quite well, but in a way, it is even MORE limiting, so it's a tradeoff.
For those who don't know Deer Hunter, basically you go on a hunting expedition. In this case, there are three locations: American Midwest, Northern Europe, and Western Russia. Each offers different terrain. You can choose 4 different difficulty levels, which affects the game you can hunt, and how much aim time you have. Finally, you can choose from variety of weapons: bolt rifle, shotgun, single-shot rifle, compound bow, black powder rifle, and finally, just for fun, AK-47. Locations, weapons, and difficulty levels are unlocked as you finish hunts at certain difficult levels and achieve some minimum scores.
As you complete hunts, you gain "skill points" that can be used to improve your avatar in accuracy (less crosshair wavering), reflex (faster crosshair movement), endurance (faster movement on the hunt map), and perception (bigger search radius on the hunt map). The higher the level of skill, the more points needed to improve it. First level is just 1 point, then 2 points, then 4 points... You get the idea.
You start on the "hunt map", also known as "GPS map". You appear as a blue dot, with a blue circle around it. That is your visible area. Move around the map until you spot animals within that circle. Then move to intercept it. Once you do, and you choose to hunt it, you go into the 3D hunt mode.
The hunt mode has you looking at the wilderness, which is nicely detailed, with trees, hills, rocks, even occasional streams and definitely some terrain, even abandoned fences and gate. Animals will stay at their location doing their resting and feeding... And you have a short period, usually 10 seconds or so to exploit their calm before you're sensed and they bolt (or you take a shot, except with a bow). You can tag the animals but not kill them by simply sweeping the crosshair over them until it says "tagged". It will then ID the animal by type and weight, and if deer, by antler size points as well.
What tagging does is it makes the animal group trackable on GPS map / hunt map. Individual animals are not marked on the map. Instead, a single "track" icon represents a group of animals (can be mixed types), the "most valuable" of which is designated the leader and is the one shown when you are in GPS mode. When you first encounter the group, it will say something like "Bear (size unknown)" If you tagged the animals, the next time you encounter the group it will updated as "Bear (502.1 pounds)" or something like that. As you hunt the group, and take out the leader, the group will be designated by the next most valuable target, and so on.
You have "all day" (5AM to 7PM roughly, depending on location) to bag 5 trophies (i.e. kills). And you have to meet a minimum score requirement with the entire hunt, like 10000, 12000, and such, to "complete" the hunt. This often requires one to use the weapons with difficulty bonus points. The bolt rifle, being the most accurate and fast in reloading, has NO bonus. On the other side of the scale, the black powder rifle is notoriously inaccurate, extremely slow in reloading, and you can't even use a sniper scope on it, so it has a 1000 pt bonus. In between, you have shotgun, single-shot, and compound bow. (200, 500, and 800 pt bonus, respectively).
Each kill is "graded" in points. You have a base score, based on the animal's weight (bonus multiplier given for type. Moose gets a 2X multiplier, and bear gets a 3X multiplier). Then you add vital bonus (how clean was the shot, was it one shot through the head, through the heart/chest, or you end up using multiple wound shots), antler bonus (based on size of the antlers, deer only), the weapon bonus, and the "cover bonus", which is how far the animal is and its cover rating. With all the bonus added, a single kill can yield over 5000 points, and a single hunt can yield over 25000 points.
Your best 3 kills (by point value) is kept on your "trophy wall", which is under your "profile". You get details on how your kill score was calculated, and you even get a full 3D view of the kill, the trajectory of the bullet, and where did it hit the target. You can even rotate it left or right and see exactly where did the bullet went in and out (a bit like those CSI diagrams).
There are also special achievements you can go for on hunts, such as "all headshots", "back before lunch" (complete the hunt before 10AM), tag all animals on the map, and so on.
You also unlock special equipment, such as sniper scope, deer call, anti-scent spray, and binoculars as you unlock levels. Each gives you bonuses. For example, anti-scent spray gives you extra seconds before the animals smell you and bolt. Binoculars expand your visible area on the GPS / Hunt map. And so on.
This game is a bit more intuitive than the Deer Hunter mobile versions I've played. Usually you have deploy those "equipment" separately. Making the stuff "passive" makes the game simpler. The ability to hunt three separate types of animals is hardly new.
The graphics on the 3D hunt screen is much better than before, but movement is even further restricted. You used to be able to do 360 spin but no movement. You're now limited to no more than 120 degrees, a bit more to the left and a bit more to the right. What's more, you soon realize that it's the same 3D terrain submaps used over and over, once you've gone onto several hunts. You may have like 3 different shoot positions in the 3D map, and the game randomly picks one that seems to fit your current "location" on the GPS map. But soon you realize it's the SAME 3D map, just from a slightly different perspective.
Sound is normal, nothing too fancy. However, this game has a 5-level volume control. Very nice! Music is only in the menus.
I must say, the most impressive part is the CSI-like "trophy wall", where the exact moment of hit is recorded in 3D for your later analysis. However, only the best 3 kills are recorded this way. Once I shot a bear running away with my black powder rifle. That was one heck of a lucky shot, and the trophy shows the bear in full gallop, and the shot went straight through the chest region. Amazing.
All in all, Deer Hunter 3D is a vast improvement over the previous versions. Gameplay was made more intuitive, less cumbersome, and while the graphics is improved and movement somehow more restricted, you don't really feel it. However, the price has also went up. This game has a "monthly" price of $4.99, which is one of the more expensive games I've tried (most games are $2.49 to $3.49 per month). So there's a slight deduction for that. And there's nothing new to this version. Overall, this is one of the better hunting games out there, but still not quite the best.
Overall rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: gorgeous graphics, much better than other mobile hunt games on the market, more intuitive hunting, less equipment confusion
Cons: still nothing really new here, more restricted left/right pan, only 3 items on trophy wall, expensive!
Verdict: the best Deer Hunter ever... but is that really an accomplishment?