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Hunting never felt so base and inhumane as in Deer Hunter 2014, the latest in a long line of titles that has evolved progressively far from its moniker and expanded now to include endangered animals. The core shooting and weapon upgrading experience is actually very well executed, albeit easy – assuming you can look past the ethical blunder is blasting near-extinct creatures – while its rapid-fire mission structure across three exotic locales makes for some compulsive gaming. However, there’s little by way of deer or realistic hunting on offer.
It’s a shooting game. You aim and you shoot, optionally using an infrared scope or a special ability to make the task easier – not that it’s very difficult to begin with. Each mission has a target: Kill x number of y animal, perhaps specifically via a lung or heart shot. Succeeding at both unlocks the next mission and earns plenty of Hunter Bucks need for weapon customizations and upgrades; and failing still yields a few Hunter Bucks for your trouble, meaning you win no matter what.
Every mission attempt costs energy, whether it be under the Hunting Series, Contract Hunts, Club Hunts (co-op multiplayer), or the more unique Trophy Hunts label. Energy replenishes at a rate of just one point every 10 minutes, unless you fork out some dough on a quick refill, and many weapon upgrades – which are required to progress in ever more challenging scenarios – also come with wait times. Only the Trophy Hunts lock you out if your weapons aren’t up to snuff, though, so there’s always more shooting to be done, and it can be tough to drag yourself away.
The trouble is that Deer Hunter 2014 is not so much a hunting game as it is target practice with wild animals. Each "hunt" begins within range of your target beast(s), and you’ll do the majority of your shooting rooted to the spot as animals stand around waiting to die. Some might attack, but they'll merely perform a slow-motion lunge that’s easy to defend. Hunting implies some level of skill and deduction, but both are in short supply here. So long as you're not expecting the nuance and depth of the real thing, however, this polished free-to-play offering has its entertaining moments.
The bottom line. Deer Hunter 2014 serves up some robust shooting and free-to-play progression, but it lacks challenge, walks an ethical tightrope, and provides only a tiny portion of the complete hunting experience.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.1 or later
Can easily be played without spending a dime. Robust and realistic shooting mechanics. In-depth customization options and weapon upgrades.
Too easy. Doesn’t capture the essence of hunting. Asks you to kill endangered animals. Multiplayer is largely hidden.