Bow Hunter 2015 – Review

Title   Bow Hunter 2015
Developer  iEntertainment Network
Publisher  iEntertainment Network
Platform  iOS, Android (reviewed)
Genre  Hunting simulator
Release Date  July 14, 2015

I’m not what anyone would ever call an archer; not by any stretch of the imagination.  I own a Samick Spikeman 60″ one-piece recurve bow, but I use it as often as I do my Vectrex, which is to say that it’s slowly become an ornamental fixture rather than a tool for a beloved pastime.  Regardless, archery is something which holds a great deal of interest for me, and I’m always keen to dive into whichever new hunting or target release hits the virtual shelves.  This time around it was iEntertainment Network’s Bow Hunter 2015, which was touted as “the most realistic hunting simulator out there“, so naturally I was very excited.

A few red flags shot up as soon as it had installed on my device, as the graphics were seriously dated and used typeface effects that I hadn’t seen since the days when Amiga’s public domain was the place to be.  While I don’t necessarily expect kick-ass graphics on a mobile game, I do still expect that the theme will fall in line with the context, and hunting deer with a compound bow has never really screamed out 1950s’ art-deco styling to me.   As the old adage goes, one should never judge a book by its cover and neither would I do the same with a game, and so I soldiered on to see what it had to offer.

Almost immediately, I was concerned by the non-responsive nature of what I had on offer.  My character, a rather burly chap resplendent in camouflage from head to toe, stood proudly in his hunting gear and some on-screen text prompted me to grab hold of him and spin him around to get a closer look or zoom in and so, as anyone playing a game for the first time would, I followed their advice.  Sadly, within only a few moments, I was faced with the first of many “Unfortunately, BowHunter2015 has stopped.” messages.  I assumed that it was because the tablet had been in standby mode for a few days, having been used to play a number of other titles, so I took the initiative and went for a complete shutdown and reboot.

Things didn’t improve second time around, and I was again thrown back to the tablet’s home page while it was explained to me once again that the game had stopped responding.  Not being one to back down at the sign of  a challenge, I simply restarted the game and made a point of ignoring my camouflage-clad chap and instead headed straight for the gameplay.  I was placed in a field where my Alien-esque motion sensor informed me that I had two deer up ahead, and that I only needed one to complete this particular mission.  I got myself within a suitable range, entered aim mode, and attempted to line up my shot but the lag between me dragging the cross hairs and them actually moving was such that the reticle would generally overshoot where I wanted it to rest.

Eventually, my cross hairs were where I wanted them to be and I let my arrow fly.  It must have startled the deer as, by the time the arrow actually met with the target, it was nowhere near the side of the neck and instead embedded itself in its hind quarters.  With a heavy thump, my prey hit the deck and lay there in all its venison-pie glory.  There wasn’t much excitement to be had, however, and I couldn’t understand why this was the case as I had managed my first kill; then I realised that there was no soundtrack beyond a faint whistling through the trees. I was then taken back to the main screen which informed me that my tutorial was over, and introduced me to Day 1 of my hunting trip.  Then it crashed to the desktop, once again.

After restarting, I decided to have a look around the Pro Store before heading off to start my trip and noticed that I could buy additional O Bucks (not sure what the ‘O’ stands for) and that this would allow me to upgrade my gear to something more powerful, and perhaps more stable.  After all, it could have been the case that the reason I had so much lag with my original bow was that it was a starter kit and wasn’t intended for accuracy.  A man can dream.  No sooner had I opened up the terribly-pixelated option box to purchase more O Bucks than I started to assume my device had crashed, as I wasn’t able to scroll the available options to see what else they had.  Several attempts later and suddenly it flicked to the end and then immediately back to the start.  Clicking on the ‘buy’ buttons did nothing other than expand their size.  No Bow Hunter store opened up, no direct link with Google Play Store, and nothing to tell me that I couldn’t make any in-game purchases.  Just nothing.

To ensure that it wasn’t just me, I called upon my fellow Editor to see if they could get it to respond.  They tried; they failed, and then that familiar notice informing me that BowHunter2015 had stopped graced the screen once again.  I tried several times to circumvent any possible area which would cause the game to crash, just so I could get on with playing the actual hunting aspect for the purposes of this review, and then hopefully mention that the game itself was decent enough but also point out how the bugs made certain aspects of it unplayable.  As it stands, however, my experience was 10% game and 90% bugs.

A quick trip to the Play Store would reveal that many others were having issues with the game not responding, crashing, or being terribly laggy.  To their credit, iEntertainment responded to a great deal of disgruntled people (in case you’re not aware, most developers make no attempt to work with their customer base and simply ignore any bug reports) and would offer a number of suggestions in order to get past certain hurdles, even offering to call their customer personally to walk them through it.  Sadly, most people were simply told that they needed at least 1GB free of RAM and a dedicated GPU in order to play their game because of how memory-intensive and graphic-heavy it is.

At this point I need to make it known that our review was carried out on a Samsung Tab S 10.5, which is arguably the most powerful tablet available on the market today.  It comes with octa-core processing (1.9GHz and 1.3GHz), 3GB of RAM, a dedicated Mali-T628 MP6 GPU (capable of 16x Full Scene Anti-Aliasing and DirectX 11), a stunning 2560 x 1600 Super AMOLED screen, and we’ve even got a 128GB MicroSD for additional storage should the device need to temporarily dump any information elsewhere.  This isn’t a cheap machine, nor is it under-powered; in fact every game we’ve reviewed on it has played considerably better than on our 1280 x 720 Samsung Tab 4 10.1, so it’s certainly not an issue with the hardware.

What could have been a great game, and was cited as “a fully-realized 3D world where real bow hunting techniques can be used to maximum effect”, turned out to be perhaps the most bug-ridden experience we’ve had in the five years of GamingLives and certainly my thirty-two years as a gamer.  The paywall hit pretty quickly, but it wasn’t even possible to knock it down by buying more O Bucks thanks to a non-responsive in-game store.  Aside from the terribly dated presentation and uninspiring HUD, Bow Hunter 2015 was let down more by its infected coding than anything else.  Based on our experience, and many of the reviewers on the Play Store, I’d recommend that you avoid this until they overhaul the code.

  • Dated visuals from the outset
  • Repeated crashes
  • Seriously laggy when it does work
  • It practically never works
  • Zero atmosphere
  • A high-powered device failed to overcome the bugs

No matter how you slice it, Bow Hunter 2015 has more bugs than the virtual forest you find yourself trudging through. Even though it looks dated, there's no reason that it can't still be a great game, and although there's no discernible soundtrack to be had, one could argue that this was because you're supposed to be silently stalking your prey. What you can't overlook, however, is that every two or three minutes you're being kicked back to the home screen and told that the game had stopped responding... yet this tended to happen not in the memory or graphic-intensive areas such as the rendered-in-realtime 3D environments, but rather when browsing through the menus. Bow Hunter 2015 falls squarely into the avoid pile.

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