Shooting clay pigeons is a highly skilled sport that requires a steady hand and meticulous accuracy. If you think stationary target shooting is hard, then try this. Watching the professionals hit those small whizzing clay discs at a distance makes it very obvious that it is an elite activity. So to save us the embarrassment of missing in real life, Hotbarrels bring us a game of the sport so we can fulfil our secret clay pigeon shooting fantasies.
The first thing you notice upon running the game is quite damning. The entire thing is made in Macromedia Flash. Yeah, there are plenty of cool Flash games online, but its capabilities are primarily visual, and it has a significant lack of real power beneath it when compared to any decent coding program.
Hmm, well I’ll try not to prejudge though. So I start a new game. This is where the real shock sets in. Those beautiful landscape graphics you see on the box…are not graphics. They are photographs inserted into the background. The clay pigeons themselves are effortless little blobs of colour that dismantle into a few pieces when shot. There are 9 different modes to play through, ranging from Decoyed Pigeon and Driven Grouse to Bolting Rabbit and Springing Teal. The difference between these? Quite simply a different background photograph and a slightly altered way that the clay discs zoom across the screen.
The game claims to replicate the way real animals would move in the circumstances. Thus the bland clay projectiles suddenly change direction at various points across the screen. Which is nice for the first time it happens. And then you realise that every single subsequent set follows the exact same pattern as those first two. Shooting them after that requires not accuracy, but a simple knowledge of where they enter the screen from so you can pop them off instantly.
It gets worse. The crosshair’s refresh rate is abysmally slow, so moving the damn thing across the screen is not the silky smooth swirl that you would expect and require from such a game, but instead it is rather stuttery and sluggish. Great! Then you get dark patches of the background photograph that completely hide your black crosshair from view, making the task of aiming even more futile. Fantastic!
I finished everything the game had to offer, comprehensively boring myself stupid in the process, in under half an hour. The content on offer is to be measured in crumbs, not in platefuls. In fact, being a Flash boffin myself, I know that the entire game would have taken me barely more than a month to knock up single-handedly. The fact that people are being charged money to play this game is frankly rude.
Yes, we can just about live with the fact that we are only shooting plain clay discs, even though they do dink and swerve, but the rabbit shooting section has absolutely no excuse. The rabbits are represented by small, black 2D circles. Since when did you see clay pigeons running through the grass? Even worse, the graphics are so bad that they are not even recognisable as clay pigeons.
Some clay pigeon Olympic gold medallist is quoted on the box as saying that this game really improves his concentration before matches. Quite how inebriated he was at the time is unfortunately not stated… Trying desperately to look for some vague sense of purpose or use for this game, I simply cannot find anything worthwhile about it. It cannot even be claimed to aid your shooting skills, as real life shooting is vastly different to sweeping a mouse across a screen.
There are one or two other little bits and pieces I was going to mention, but I’m afraid my apathy prevents me from continuing. Some constructive criticism before I take out this lovely shiny disc and see how far it flies across my garden? Nah, actually I don’t have room for an essay. Instead I’m just going to recommend playing decent FREE Flash games on the net, which is where this underachieving shooter belongs.
Alternatively, try poking little twigs in your ears and pretending to be the Twig Monster. ROWR! It’s just so much more fun than playing this game!