UGO

Game Reviews
Ultimate Hunt Challenge
by EA Sports/Electronic Arts


Hunting games remain popular among the computer gaming crowd, mostly due to the lack of quality products within the genre. As soon as the popularity of these titles became apparent, the market was quickly flooded with half-hearted attempts to recreate the thrill of the hunt. EA Sports was among the few companies that managed to put out a decent product that simulated the hunting experience for the PC, and now you can get yourself a good package deal.

Ultimate Hunt Challenge is a combination of three different products, the special edition versions of Deer Hunt Challenge, Turkey Shoot challenge, and Pheasant Hunt Challenge. These products, while still not the top of the line in terms of PC gaming in general, are still some of the best hunting games available.

Graphically, these games do not push the envelope of your 3D card, but they do a fairly decent job of reproducing the hunting environment. Small touches like the gentle swaying of the grass as a breeze blows across the landscape go a long way towards modeling a convincing landscape. Animals move in a somewhat realistic way, with most of the detail going into the animal that is the target of the hunt.

Sound effects are much better than average. Turn up your speakers and you'll hear prey scampering around you. Walking around makes noise that relies on the type of ground upon which you are moving. The crack of the rifle is also thunderous and realistic. A lot of effort went into making sound effects something that adds to the experience as well as being something to use to your advantage in the game.

There are a lot of options available in the game when it comes to weapon types and equipment available. I won't go into detail for all three titles, but suffice to say you will find a wealth of useable tools available on your virtual hunt.

Gameplay is fairly realistic for a couple of reasons. The animal AI is well detailed as your prey moves and reacts much like the real thing. To keep the game from being all too realistic and therefore boring (waiting hours for prey to become available), the game takes place in accelerated time. This is an excellent way to alleviate the waiting associated with real hunting and making the simulation move much more quickly.

Control is simple enough; you choose your equipment and choose a location on the very large map. You may opt for a first or third person view to move around, then aim and fire using the mouse. There are different levels of difficulty to allow you to make the game almost an arcade shoot or more realistic in nature.

The three games are on separate CDs within the package, and must be installed independently. All together they take quite a bit of hard drive space, but nothing too annoying, especially if you only install them one at a time. The entire Ultimate Hunting Challenge is bargain-priced at just around thirty dollars, meaning you're getting the package for about ten bucks per full game.

As far as hunting simulations go, Ultimate Hunting Challenge is among the best. Hunting still isn't represented with a top-end graphics engine, but this is far better than most of the other games available. Before you go off and blow your money on one of the many inferior titles, this one is inexpensive, fairly realistic, and moderately challenging. Not to mention that you get three games for the price of one.

Graphics
Sounds
Gameplay
Interface
Overall Impression

Bottom Line: One of the best hunting games available to date. Still not technologically impressive when compared to games of a different genre, but detailed enough to be realistic. Ultimate Hunting Challenge is three games in one, and inexpensively priced for what you get.

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