- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 26, 2003

Cover your eyes, outdoors columnist Gene Mueller.

I find the thought of murdering defenseless creatures using high powered armaments to be a ridiculous sport. In a video gaming environment, it’s even less palatable.

Now, I have no problem eviscerating Clive Barker creations, government agents, innocent bystanders and extraterrestrials if they were lurking in virtual forested terrain, but the infrequent chance to unload into Bambi and his species does not an immersive interactive experience make.

Unfortunately, Activision’s famous hunting simulation, ported to a Bill Gates entertainment console, does an excellent job of relaying the sporting event while making it as realistically boring as possible.

A single player begins his quest to bag a four-legged friend by entering the Career Hunt mode and choosing from what I guess Cabela, a top hunting accessories manufacturer, considers to be six archetypical hunter types ranging from a teenage male to a mid-60s male to mid-30s female and eventually a former army sniper (that’s real fair for Bambi).

He must traverse through nine wilderness settings and ultimately bag nine different types of defenseless prey. Target practice and a shooting range are available to the player to sight weapons and hone skills before going out on a typical hunt.

The hunt involves using a third-person perspective to maneuver through terrain and a first-person perspective to execute the kill or switch items while enjoying some spectacular landscapes.

The weapons used to inflict damage made me giggle and include semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, high-tech compound bows and — an obvious choice for the serious bagger of venison — a .44 Magnum. The hunter also may use to his outrageous advantage attractant gel, synthetic antlers, tree stand, global positioning system, binoculars, deer feeder and buck urine.

I had a serious laugh when, after enduring an autumn rainstorm and wasting about 90 minutes of my life roaming through the perfectly simulated Minnesota wilds with nothing to show for it, my avatar fell into a lake and was rescued by the warden, which quickly ended my machismo maelstrom.

Hunters also can use various vehicles to reach locations (calm down, Rambo, tanks are not part of the selection), need to pay attention to their hydration and stamina, can follow deer tracks and get briefed to unbelievable levels — down to hunting restrictions of an area and characteristics of certain types of deer?

I admit to being exasperated by the “wait, walk, wait, walk, fire, miss, wait, wait, wait, etc.” lack of action, but a bit fairer competition should be found in the upcoming title, Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts which will provide a lack of encounters with grizzly bears, rhinos and leopards using bazookas and grenades — just kidding about the weapons.

I am sure any serious hunter will appreciate Cabela’s latest season of slaughter, but I’ll stick with blasting zombies with a light gun in the Resident Evil universe.

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