Glu Mobile's Deer Hunter Challenge aims to offer the ultimate stalking experience on a tablet or smartphone, and not just for deer - for bears, pumas, moose and even rabbits. It's available for both iOS and Android; we tried the Android version on our Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
It's a rather complex but addictive game to play, with a trophy room to fill and shooting achievements to win, but the challenge element is debatable. Plenty of hunting trips are available, with lots of customisation possible to improve your chances, but there doesn't seem to be much 'challenge' in the stalking itself. And whether you get your kill depends more on your choice of weapon than any type of skill.
You can upgrade your bipod to a tripod to hold your aim steady, buy new guns and customise their stock and scope, get more accurate GPS equipment and even alter your character's clothing to remain undetected for as long as possible. You also earn Skill points, which allow you to improve such things as your accuracy, reflexes, endurance and stealth level. Since the animals don't bolt until you've taken a pot shot and missed, however, the latter seems the least useful attribute to upgrade.
You simply click to begin a hunting trip, and are then presented with a GPS map of the area. Tap anywhere onscreen to head in that direction, and the footprints of any animals in your path are displayed. Click these footprints to zero in on the animal, and once you're close enough Deer Hunter Challenge asks whether you'd like to attempt to shoot it.
You don't have to accept the challenge, and can instead try to hunt down a larger animal that will net you a higher score, but once you've accepted a challenge and failed you'll be penalised if you don't finish the job. Another map is then displayed showing various spots from which you can take aim; you choose your preferred option. See Best Android Apps.
Now you're ready to begin the challenge. The area is displayed with detailed scenery, and the animals are significantly more realistic than those we're used to seeing in free Android games. (A 3D version of the game costs £2.99.) You can't move from your position, so you'll need to have carefully selected your station in the previous step, although you can turn to your left and right.
Find the animal, choose your weapon at the top right, tap the scope icon to move the crosshairs into position and set up your shot, then tap again to fire. It took us a few goes to get the hang of this, and we kept firing before we intended to; it's possible to configure Deer Hunter Challenge in the Settings menu to display a dedicated Fire button, however. A Steady button lets you stabilise your aim for a few seconds, and you can click the tripod button at the bottom of the screen if you think it will be a useful aid.
To take part in hunting trips around the world you must have a certain amount of energy available - a two-day hunt in Patagonia costs 800 energy points, for example. How much energy you have to begin with depends on how far into the game you are, but just like a real hunter you'll quickly run out of steam. And once you get tired, you must either buy more energy in the form of beef jerky, coffee and the like (have your wallet ready with real cash), or wait for your character to recuperate naturally, which can take hours.
In the meantime, energy-free mini games are also available, in which you can still earn Xps to upgrade your equipment. To progress to new locations around the world and unlock new challenges you'll have to work your way through the levels by earning a certain number of Xps.
Deer Hunter Challenge is a huge download. It's listed as a 4.06MB file on Android Market, but when you launch the game you're required to install around 280MB of resources - annoyingly, at each launch you're asked whether you want to delete the resource pack before you can begin gameplay. An SD Card is recommended for storing these files, and also useful for backing up game data; Glu Mobile suggests using a Wi-Fi broadband connection for the download. Even so, it took what felt like forever to install.