Nobody was expecting this to be the best game of 2011, of course, but it had all the potential of being this year's Deadly Premonition -- a campy and hilariously bad, but strangely enjoyable game. Whether the comedy is on purpose or not -- and I laughed more in the opening hour of Shadows of Katmai than in any other game this year -- it never continues this trend of providing hilarity to what is ultimately a very mediocre game. With better writing, more self-referential jokes, more varied animal hunting encounters and a more ridiculous plot, Shadows of Katmai would still not have been a good game, but it would've been a lot more entertaining.
Contrary to the other Cabela's games with their first-person hunting mechanics, Shadows of Katmai takes the third-person action adventure approach à la Uncharted. As mediocre as the game plays, it is arguably worse that Shadows of Katmai decides to stick with its realistic setting and story.


While you can blast through the story mode in under four hours -- even on the Hard difficulty setting -- you can provide some alcohol-fueled humor yourselves where the game fails to do so, as it offers plenty of ridiculous settings for comedy voice-over. It feels like either the developers didn't get all the creative freedom to go nuts with the ridiculous concept of a Cabela's action-adventure game, didn't know that this concept is the stuff of cult hits when executed properly, or weren't able to pull it off.
In the end, Cabela's Survival: Shadows of Katmai is simply not good enough as a game or as a piece of drunken entertainment to reach the cult status it so desperately calls for. The idea behind Cabela's Survival is one that could be great, in time, if Activision will allow it to become the so-bad-it's-good kind of series that would turn it into a top-of-the-list budget game for birthday gifts. If these shooting gallery of mini-games are what you play Cabela's games for, you're better off getting one of the older titles in the bargain bin.


Because the camera is fixed most of the time, it's hard to steer away from the route that the game so blatantly insists you take and there is hardly ever any reward for exploring off the beaten path.



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