I’ve noticed somewhat of a theme with Activision this holiday season. After it was revealed that the upcoming X-Men Destiny will bear more than a passing resemblance to the overall structure of the Infamous series, Activision also announced a new franchise that utilized the profitable Cabela’s game license.
Why is this new Cabela’s franchise related to patterns observed in X-Men Destiny? Well, like X-Men Destiny, Cabela’s Survival: Shadows of Katmai also draws heavy inspiration from one of the most popular Playstation 3 franchises and brings it to multiplatform gamers.
There’s no denying that every publisher has seen the success that the Uncharted series has experienced on the Playstation 3. Strangely enough, Activision might just be the first publisher to take such heavy inspiration and create an all-new franchise with it.
And taken heavy inspiration from Uncharted, Activision has. The game’s premise is that you are an adventurer named Logan James, who has been given grant money to assist with research in the dangerous region of Mount Katmai in Alaska. Unfortunately, on the way to your destination, your plane begins going down, and you much pilot the slowly-crashing plane to safety, Indiana Jones style.
Once you land, you’ll be forced to fight for your survival. Among the passages I was shown, which was a part of an early build that didn’t include lip-syncing, finalized voice acting, optimization of resources, or any guns other than a simple hand-gun, I saw James fight off vicious wolves, stave off crazy ravens, and even take on two ferocious bears at the same time. As the Activision representative who walked us through this demo put it, the animals are “suspiciously aggressive.”
The action certainly looks intense, but the real question will come down to the quality of the gameplay itself. The gameplay is, quite frankly, that of Uncharted. It’s hard to say if it properly emulates Uncharted through the various climbing, combat, and free-running sequences, as those parts were exclusively played as a demonstration by the Activision representative, but everything looked nearly identical, right down to the very way that Logan James climbs from ledge to ledge.
One major turn-off that may plague this game could be the implied requirement that players must use the gun peripheral that we’ve seen in past Cabela’s titles. While there are certainly ways that we could see this accessory enhancing the overall experience, there will be those that just want to play a third-person action title with a standard controller. Again, this isn’t confirmed, as the producer couldn’t be reached at the time of demo, but all signs are pointing to the gun peripheral being a required gameplay element.
For those wanting a more traditional Cabela’s experience, there will also be a Gallery mode, like what has been seen in previous titles in the license. The mode will see players taking a first-person, on-rails approach to hunting down animals in their natural environments. Unlike the yearly Cabela’s Big Game Hunter franchise, this has a much more arcade pacing to it, as animals are constantly running through the screen at an unrealistic pace. The mode feels solid, but the repetitive gameplay might only appeal to those that have played previous Cabela’s titles.
Cabela’s Survival: Shadows of Katmai really has the opportunity to be something that appeals to a large number of gamers, particularly those that haven’t already experienced such similar action in Uncharted 2. It’s highly doubtful that this game will rival the quality and production values that were found in Uncharted 2, but if Activision can really nail the gameplay aspect, the other pieces of the puzzle certainly could have the ability to fall into place.
The potential is certainly there, but, realistically, it may be an uphill battle for this game. Cabela’s Survival: Shadows of Katmai will, fittingly, be released alongside Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception on November 1st of this year on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii.