Hunting Simulator 2 belongs to the very niche genre of simulator games that over the years has evolved to become more accurate and more in-depth. This new offering gives a rather unique form of tracking animals with a dog companion and still tries to hold to true to the genre. While I enjoyed the mechanic of the dog and most of the game, I felt there were some things that were lacking or that made the experience a bit grindy for me to wholeheartedly recommend the game.
Since I’m dealing with a genre that doesn’t have a lot of quality games, it’s inevitable that Hunting Simulator 2 will be compared to one of the bigger games on the market; The Hunter: Call of the Wild. I’ll try to keep the comparisons brief since I feel a game should be judged by its own merits and not so much by others in the genre. The biggest thing that Hunting Simulator 2 does to set itself apart is with its dog companion mechanic. I started out with a Beagle that went with me on hunts and could track around to find animal trails or blood trails after I had shot something. The dog leveled up the more I used him and if I praised him for doing a good job. I really enjoyed this mechanic and thought it brought a rather nice twist on finding animal tracks instead of my hunter just seemingly being the bestest of trackers around. I found having a dog around also helped to ease the tension that could build on long hunts where it was just myself and the silence of nature. There are several different dog breeds I could purchase that each brought something different to the table. Having a retriever for example was great when going out to hunt small game that they could go and bring back to you once downed (this is especially important for ducks and such flying over water). While I thoroughly enjoyed this, there was a bit of grind if I wanted my dog to increase all of his skills. While I expected that, I feel overall in a game that has a decent amount of grind already; this was just a bit much more than was needed.
When talking about games in the hunting sim genre, something that I feel has to be an important aspect and needs to be done well are the various guns available. It’s not enough to have the various rifles, bows, shotguns, and crossbows in the game; they have to have a certain feel to them. Much like in any First Person Shooter game, if the weapon I’m carrying doesn’t have a believable sound, or kick or “weight” to it, then it detracts from the game. With a game like this where gunplay is a vital part of the game, it can make or break a game. In Hunting Simulator 2 there was a good option of weapons to use as well as various ammo. It felt odd that I couldn’t just buy a different ammo type, I had to buy the rifle and chose which ammo it came with. This was offset by being able to refill ammo for free at the hunting shack but meant having to spend more money than necessary simply to get a different ammo type. This can add to frustration since certain ammo types have to be used on certain animals or a monetary penalty is issued. While I thought the shooting aspect, in general, was good, there was very little kick to most guns. I’ve personally fired some of these rifles and ammo types and know they can tend to buck in your shoulder when shot. While yes I know this is a video game, this is also supposed to be a simulator type game and considering how there are other aspects they are following some real-life guidelines, it surprised me to find this to be lacking.
Let’s talk about the main aspect of the game, hunting. As I said previously the dog brings a nice fresh take and is fun. The animals available are varied and seem to have good AI. Some of the animations can look a little clunky at times, but overall not bad. Not being able to shoot the female of species or risk getting fined felt odd and had me questioning where the balance between realism and video game was struck for Hunting Simulator 2 at times. The various scents you can use to lure animals in as well as animal calls seem to work and are done well. I had a personal issue wherein keeping to realism I needed to buy hunting licenses for the various animals I was hunting and they were good for only so many animals per license. The problem for me is this created another thing to spend money on besides guns for just specific ammo, gear, and different dogs. This is where part of the grind aspect began to rear its head and took enjoyment away from the game itself for me.
Graphically the game looks good and I felt decently immersed in the area. But it was nothing unique that really struck a chord with me. Sounds are important to a game like this and I had several issues. My biggest complaint is that I had to turn the background almost done to zero. It sounded more like a white noise effect that overpowered the rest of the game and was unenjoyable for me. The sounds used for the various weapons were ok, but nothing to write home about.