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Shoot to Kill
This is not some cute game where you shoot targets or hit birdies with a light beam and they hold up a score for you while sporting a grin. This is a game where you load up a shotgun, wait for the bird to take flight and then blast it from the sky. Realism is the key to all this - a shotgun isn't a Uzi so don't expect to fire rapidly. You'll have to use precision aiming and a good sense of anticipation to bag all of the ready-to-burst fowls.
You have the choice of going hunting on your own, taking on a tournament or going against others. Either way, you'll be creating your own hunting sign and building your cred by killing everything that needs killing in a particular place and during the allotted time.
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What You See is What You Kill
The Wii's graphics have never been better. Locations vary as does the weather but a sense of realism pervades throughout. There's a feeling of depth, which is nice to see, but definitely makes it harder to shoot at. For example, fall foliage falling down trees can attract the eye and distract your trigger finger from the target moving just a second later. Depth is also used to vary the flight of the birds - sometimes they're far off in the distance while other times right up close and in your face before hightailing it (bad pun, right). Colors are distinct, whether that's for a bird or background, so there's no excuse for saying that the animated characters are getting "lost" in the background. You're just a lousy shot, is all.
My favorites are the Turkeys - not because they can't fly, but because they tend to pause behind trees before running back out again. That gives you a chance to line up an extra nice shot on them, especially when they're pretty far back in the woods. Also, Turkeys sort of pop apart nicely when they've been shredded. I guess I kind of like that too.
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The Sounds of Kiling
The sound effects are quite realistic and you might jump a bit the first time you hear the gun going off (I know my dogs kept getting spooked hearing the hunting dog who accompanies you every time he sounded off). Ambient sounds accompany those of the birds in flight or on the ground as well. But mostly it's the KaBoom when you shoot something that keeps the juices flowing Does it help that there's an invisible guy over your shoulder commenting as you go? Maybe yes, maybe no. At least he knows to keep the encouragement flowing when you've screwed up and shot something that you shouldn't have.
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The Way You're Killing
You're looking over the edge of your shotgun, so you have a good angle of view to work from as well as a nice sight that moves cleanly and smoothly at your command. The game works with the Wii Zapper - holding a gun seems more appropriate than the Wii remote - but mostly it's about reloading quickly and firing even quicker.
And I really like the feedback you get when firing. I know it's kind of corny but a weapons should have a kick to it so this adds a bit of realism that is worth the programming effort. And kudos to the designers for adapting the way the vibration effect changes depending upon the weapon in hand.
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What's Going On While You're Killing
Each round and location has its own obstacles to avoid. These tend to be certain types of things that you shouldn't be shooting but well, they get in the way and what can you do? I realize that shooting a Turkey hen is a no-no, and I should be able to differentiate between them and a Tom easy enough, but oh shoot - I just get too excited. At least I know not to shoot the duck decoys - no need for that voice to remind me about that.
I also dig the fact that there's bonus items to snag. Inflatable balloons show up at times and hitting them brings added ammo or even a switch to another weapon - say a faster loading, quicker firing rifle. Or maybe night goggles for beefing up the odds when darkness starts to fall. Go for trick shots and gain extra points - banging off two close moving pheasants is something that can be accomplished. Of course snagging the bonus that gets the hunting dog to start retrieving the game for you is always nice. Lazy guy, you.
Do well and you get awards. Do poorly and you get pity.
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Is the Killing Over?
At some point you'll have to quit and return to the non-violent real world. But at least for a little while you can laugh at Peta and forget your significant other won't let you have anything more dangerous in the house than Hot Mustard. There's no way to justify this game so don't bother. Lock and load a weapon and just enjoy yourself.