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Pentium II 400, 64 MB RAM, 16 MB Direct3D video card, 400 MB hard drive, Windows 95/98/Me

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Sound FX



Varmint Hunter

Game Review - by James Allen
My experience with hunting can be summed up with an experience driving through the back roads of a state that will remain anonymous (but it rhymes with Wirginia). It seems that the hunting style in this particular locale was to sent a dog out into the woods, sit in the truck and drink some beers, wait for the dog to flush out a deer, and then lean out the window and shoot it. I think Bart Simpson summed hunting up best with the following quote: "Something about a bunch of guys alone together in the woods...seems kinda gay." Anyways, Varmint Hunter is, surprise, a hunting game, which concerns itself with killing annoying creatures, from rabbits to coyotes. Will Varmint Hunter catch that trophy buck, or just shoot itself in the foot?

By a long shot (get it? HA HA HA), the best part of Varmint Hunter is the features. Varmint Hunter has a slightly impressive amount of different guns, animals, sights, scents, accessories, and locations. There are fourteen different animals supposedly present in the game, running the gamut from cottontail, crow, raccoon, skunk, and woodchuck. You can let the violence loose with a Magnum pistol, 12 gauge pump-action shotgun, air rifle, .22 lever action rifle, and four kinds of bolt action rifles (from .223 to .308). You can attach a number of different scopes to each of these guns, which are suitable from short range to long range hunting. To attract the animals to your location, you can implement several different scents and baits to lure them in, and bring along a map or camera for extra support. You can hunt in five different locales: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Texas, South Dakota, and Nevada, each with its own specific animals and terrain.

You can also customize your hunting experience a good deal. For different experiences, you can change the season or the time of day of the hunt. Realism can be adjusted by selecting wind, weather, steady aim, ballistics, and crosshairs. You can reconfigure the keys on the keyboard, but you can't assign (or reassign) keys to the mouse. The selection screens for the weapons and such scroll very, very slowly, and they will get on your nerves after the first couple of selections. Varmint Hunter has an above average amount of features in the game, and has the foundation for a good game.

Sound FX:
The sound is quite basic in Varmint Hunter. The hunter voice is very hick, and sounds like Judd Nelson's sheriff in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back ("Let's go cornhole us a drunk!"). He is so stereotypical that it's quite insulting, until you realize that it is a fair representation of the kinds of people who would hunt varmints in the first place. There are few (if any) environmental sounds, outside of those made by your prey and the rustling of the wind (the second of which is actually pretty convincing). For being a hunting game, there sure aren't very many sounds in the forests and deserts; I suppose this reflects the "quiet solitude" of a hunting experience, but it just ends up being quite empty of noise.

I was under the impression that you were supposed to hunt in hunting games, but it seems that Varmint Hunter tries its best to let you NOT kill animals. I would have better chance getting a coyote in my backyard than in this game (although, this is New Mexico, so you never know). Most of the game comprises of running around for hours on end and trying to find the couple of animals hidden in the wilderness. The publishers stress that this is supposed to be a realistic experience, and I suppose that not seeing another living thing for hours is, but this is a hunting game that is supposed to be fun. On top of this, aren't you supposed to go hunting where you expect creatures to be present? I think that I saw Bill Murray in Punxsutawney, PA before I saw any groundhogs. Varmint Hunter would be improved immensely if more animals were present to actually hunt. If you do find a creature, you are rated on accuracy and distance, and this goes towards your overall score and ranking. It would be great if you would superglue your prize-winning prairie dog to a cardboard trophy, but you can't. The bottom line is that Varmint Hunter is very boring and not fun at all. You don't even get progressively drunk while playing it, although that would relieve the pain of playing Varmint Hunter.

The best aspect of the graphics is that the trees sway in the breeze. With that said, the remainder of the graphical characteristics in Varmint Hunter are absolutely atrocious. The press release states that the game uses a "state of the art DirectX based realtime 3D game engine." State of the art compared to what, manure? The graphics are completely outdated, and are rated below those found in, say, Quake 2. The ground textures and muddled, the skies sometimes warp into strange colors, and the animations are poor (if they are present at all). This is such a poor use of graphics in this game, Varmint Hunter could be used as a tech demo to show what the GeForce 4 SHOULDN'T do. I'd like to see the game (or a better version of it) rendered using the Serious engine. But as it stands, the graphics are some of the worst I have seen ever (even shoddier than Airport Tycoon! Egad!).

Varmint Hunter is a game with poor sound, ghastly graphics, and a bother to play. There are many other good hunting games available (I am assuming), and Varmint Hunter should be at the bottom of your shopping list. The game removes anything fun there is about hunting, and replaces it with undue pain and suffering. Hunting fans will not like Varmint Hunter. Non-hunting fans will not like Varmint Hunter. Do not buy Varmint Hunter. That is all.

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