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The Hunter Overview

The Hunter is the first fully-fledged, free-to-play hunting game to be released and it is quite a package. Players create and manage their account on the official site, but enter Whitehart Island through a beautiful game client. The Hunter is some of the most impressive visuals of any PC game to date and matches it with realistic gameplay. Players will have to slowly track down their prey before taking a shot. This isn’t a shoot-em-up, but rather a detailed hunting simulator likely to appeal to hobbyist over the general gamer.

The Hunter Screenshots

The Hunter Featured Video

Full Review

The Hunter Review

By Erhan Altay

The Hunter was released in June of 2009 by Emote Games and is already the most engaging and realistic hunting experience available. The hunting genre has been around for a while with series like Deer Hunt and Big Game Hunter, but ‘The Hunter’ is the first game to offer the game client for free and have a web-based community where fans can keep track of their stats and communicate with fellow hunters. The realistic nature of the game makes it an attractive choice for hunting hobbyists, but casual gamers should be warned – this isn’t a simple shooting game.

13870  500x375 the hunter character creation

Get Your License

Account registration is handled on the official website, which acts as much more than just a place to download the client. Many aspects of gameplay are done on the site, including character creation, shopping, viewing your stats, accepting missions, and communicating with other players. It is only when you’re ready to start hunting that the game client is actually launched. Players never really see their character’s or other players’ faces in-game, so the only appearance customization option available is picking an avatar that will be displayed on the site. The game randomly generates a list of faces, male, female, white, black and everything in between. Players simply select the one they like and move to the next step. You can give your character an original nickname, but their first and last name are randomly generated with the option of re-rolling until a decent one comes up. I went with a young hillbilly-looking fellow with the name ‘Freddy Lin.’

13879  500x375 the hunter free

License to Kill (Deer)

After registration, players are taken to the overview page, which displays all the information pertaining to their hunter. Widgets like your character’s stats & skills, missions, and your license type are activated by default but players can add other widgets and move them around like in iGoogle. A small envelope icon near the top left indicates new messages which act as a sort of mission/quest feature. An NPC named ‘Doc provides jobs that act as a tutorial and provide a sense of direction. It is easy to lose focus in a game like this and end up aimless and frustrated, so be sure to read the mission objectives carefully. The first of these missions is simple enough; players are told where to find some Mule Deer and are must go shoot one. Finally, a chance to see the actual game! If you haven’t installed the client yet, this is the time to do it. At around 600 MB, it is a modest download which shouldn’t take long on a broadband connection. The launcher will prompt players to choose a desired screen resolution and whether or not they’d like to play windowed or full-screen. If your computer hardware is aging, don’t even try to play windowed since this is quite a demanding game.

13880  500x375 the hunter gameplay

Are Those Real?

Hunters must chose which equipment they wish to take to the field before entering the game. There are several types of firearms including rifles, pistols, and shotguns but beginners start with a simple rifle. Be sure to equip your scope, bullets, and binoculars before heading out. Once you enter Whitehart Island, prepare to be blown away. The graphics in The Hunter are breath taking. I’ve never seen graphics like this is in a PC game; let alone a free-to-play one. Of course these graphics come at a cost — there is no player interaction on the island. This is basically a single player experience with a web-based community attached to it. Those looking for a realistic hunting experience won’t be disappointed. I walked around for a good ten minutes without seeing a single animal. Weather effects are superb, rain looks realistic and the sky darkens just enough during storms. The controls take a bit of getting used to as well. Players can crouch and go into the prone position by hitting ‘ctrl’, but must hit ‘shift’ to get back up. Even when walking upright, your character moves unacceptably slow which really slows down gameplay. It took me ten minutes of wandering before I found my first deer and that was where the mission told me where they would be. Tracking down your prey is an even more arduous affair.

13914  500x375 the hunter sight

Handy Dandy Tracker

Hunters are given a single piece of equipment that breaks the otherwise realistic experience: a handheld device with multiple functions. By default it simply displays a map of the island and tracks your location, but it can also be ‘used’ on tracks to provide additional information or on corpses to ‘confirm’ your kills. Confirming your kills is how you earn credit for them, since they are logged on the website for the world to view. The game even provides information such as where the animal was hit, how much it weighs, its gender and so forth. Again, this is all stuff for hobbyists to drool over. Trackable objects (such as footprints and droppings) have a red bar above them, which is a bit unrealistic but makes it possible for players to actually track animals. Jumping from one track to the next with your handheld computer is the best way to sneak up on your prey, but the experience can get dull rather quickly. This is because free players can only hunt one animal — the Mule Deer. All other animals currently available in the game (Whitetail Deer, Turkey, and Roosevelt Elk) are only available to premium users who purchase a limited membership.

13894  500x375 the hunter membership

Pay to Shoot Stuff!

Besides gaining access to much more of the game, paying players also receive three free firearms and unlimited bullets. The guns given to members include a .243 rifle, a .357 pistol and a 12GA shotgun. Premium membership can be purchased for 3 ($14.99), 6 ($26.99), or 12 ($44.99) month blocks at a time with a slight discount given for longer periods. The premium content doesn’t end there; even the game’s currency titled ‘em$’ must be purchased at a rate of $4.99 for 500 em$. All items at the store including guns, clothes, and other equipment can only be purchased with em$. What this means is The Hunter’s free-to-play components are only a teaser – but that’s okay. The game is still worth checking out for anyone interested in the hobby.

Final Verdict: Good

The Hunter is perfect at what is does. This is the most realistic and impressive hunting game to date, but the slow-paced nature makes The Hunter difficult to recommend to a general audience. Limited free-to-play elements are another deterrent in an otherwise solid game.


The Hunter Links

The Hunter Official Site

System Requirements

The Hunter System Requirements

Minimum Requirements:
OS: Windows XP / Vista
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3GHz or AMD equivalent
RAM: 1 GB Free
HDD: 1.6 GB Free
Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce 7600 / ATI Radeon X1800

Recommended Specifications:
OS: Windows XP / Vista
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3GHz or better
RAM: 2 GB Free
HDD: 2.0 GB Free
Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce 8600 or better

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