Deer Hunting season may be drawing to a close, but Dear Hunter 2014 aims (pun intended) to keep you hunting game even in the off-season. You'll get a chance to own firearms you could only dream about and can travel to locations around the world.
This hunting simulator has impressive graphics that look great on the iPad Air. The scenery and animals are very well rendered and their movement is fluid and fast, especially at the more difficult levels. I even played it on the iPad 2 and performance was still very good.
You play the game as a stationary hunter who is aiming for animals as they run or fly by you. You can move left or right to get a better angle, but you can't track an animal like you can in some simulations. You have controls to zoom in on an animal, reload your weapon or swap between weapons. Deer Hunter 2014 not only has you hunting deer as its name implies, there are a wide assortment of animals from varying locales.
Currently featuring six different locations, the game requires you to hunt trophy animals for each locale before moving on to the next one. There are about 10 trophy hunts per level. Each trophy hunt will earn you the most money in the form of hunter's bucks, which can be used to buy new firearms, energy drinks and other items. There are also regular hunts, contract hunts and club hunts that come with a smaller bounty. During the holidays, there are holiday hunt campaigns that bring new weapons and animals to the game.
There are a wide variety of firearms from which to choose including rifles, assault rifles, shotguns, and pistols. As you progress through the game you will need to purchase various upgrades to your weapons including sights, barrels, stocks, and ammunition. The more you hunt, the more money you earn and the better weapons you can buy. Having the right weapon makes all the difference in some of the upper level hunts, so it behooves you to buy the best gun you can afford.
Those interested in a quicker way to get through the game than "hunt all the time" can buy additional hunter bucks and gold via in-app purchases. Gold is a commodity in the app, used to purchase high-end weapons, add upgrades to your weapons and replenish your energy supply. You earn gold when you level up, or by watching promotional videos. There's also a promotional page that'll give you gold when you sign up for a new service. If you have some real-life cash, you can buy gold via an in-app purchase, but it is expensive.
This brings me to one of the biggest detractors for the game. Playing time is limited. You cannot just hunt for as long as you want. Deer Hunter has an energy meter that decreases every time you begin a hunt. Once the meter is depleted you must wait a certain amount of time before your energy meter fills up again and you can continue playing. It takes about 15 minutes to drain your energy and an hour to fill it up. You can instantly replenish your energy meter with gold, but that gets expensive fast.
Another aspect I did not like about Deer Hunter 2014 is that some weapons can only be purchased with gold forcing you to make an in-app purchase or spend a huge amount of time watching video ads or filling out online surveys. As much as I would like the Grantham Model 2200x, I'm not going to pay 350 gold via a US$19.99 in-app purchase to buy it. Also, there are ads for other games that pop up intermittently when you play.
Even with the above complaints, Deer Hunter 2014 manages to draw me in for short periods of time each day. The stand-out graphics and sound are some of the app's best assets. I only wish the game was not so deeply integrated with the "pay to play" revenue model. I would have preferred to pay a reasonable price for the game and progress though it without the ads and the temptation to buy gold.
Deer Hunter 2014 is available from the iOS App Store for free and is provided as a universal app for both the iPhone and iPad.