Sat. May 28th, 2022

Years ago, I remember a hunt with my Dad, my Dad’s cousin, Vaughn and his son Joe. I was nine years old and not a big game hunter by any means. I suppose my Dad wanted to let me have the experience, so he bought the hunting license in my name. Back then, when you purchased a New Mexico hunting license, you not only got the license for your big buck, but you could also shoot a bear and turkey to boot. We could buy the license over the counter and didn’t have to draw for specific areas and it was good for any public or private property, with the owner’s permission.

We were living in Ruidoso Downs and in the morning we would be headed for one of Dad’s favorite valleys between Lincoln and Capitan, tracking the hills in Billy the Kid’s footsteps. Dad and Vaughn knew the spot well, an area with a nice grassy canyon and not too hard to walk. We also hoped that the other hunters didn’t know about it. The night before, as we were gearing-up, the stories were ripe with former hunts and anticipation of the big buck I’d be bringing home. Our guns were cleaned, oiled, and packed in their scabbards. The ammo was accounted for and our hunting knives were sharp. Boy was I ready.

That fall morning we started out early. My Dad and I were walking on one side of the canyon, Vaughn and Joe were on the opposite side. As we were hunting we heard shots from behind us. That got our juices flowing and visions of my big buck ran through my mind. And here I was, packing a 30-30 Winchester with open sites, ready to tag my “big boy” and my boot came untied. I handed the gun over to my Dad, put my foot on a stump when the buck we were hunting ran right around us and up the trail and all I had was a handful of shoe laces.

Dad pulled the old Winchester to his shoulder and took the shot. I had seen him light matches with that gun, he was good. The gun barked and the buck’s hind legs 7.62×39 hunting ammo went out from under him, we had meat. In front of us was a nice buck, five points on one side and four on the other. Of course, in New Mexico and Texas you count everything that even comes close to looking like a point. We were taking home a nice nine point as our trophy. The buck was still trying to escape so Dad unsheathed his freshly sharpened hunting knife, grabbed a fist full of antlers to cut his throat for the kill, but the buck was still too strong and Dad was losing the struggle. Dad asked me to take the shot, so I did… right in the stomach. Then he asked me why I shot him there. My reply was that it was a nice big spot. He asked me to shoot him again and I killed him with a neck shot.

I was really proud of my first hunt, even though it took three shots and a lot of meat was ruined. We field dressed and packed our buck out of the canyon and back home to let him hang in the carport over night. The next morning we woke up to find that some dogs were able to reach part of the carcass and had a midnight snack. After all the adventure was over, our buck was good eating… at least the parts that weren’t dog food

After a fourth round consisting of another go at hacker players are treated to a more traditional closing round – body count. With body count the teams are pitted against each other within normal team death match rules, points are awarded to each side whenever a rival combatant is slain by an ally. The mode doesn’t take much more describing than that and is a delightful way to close the mayhem. Since most players seem to play this way 90% of the time it’s where the points are made up and losing teams can make miraculous come backs. Overall the Warzone mode is a good laugh and strong indicator of the strength of Killzones gameplay. The final round body count simply makes me excited to play a standard team deathmatch.

Like most online shooting titles every “positive” action awards players with experience, actions like: kills, head shots, picking up ammo and completing objectives etc. Experience in Killzone also doubles as credits, the in game currency used to buy new weapons, armour and items that help tailor your character to your preferred play style. When the game launches actions from the single player will also allow the collection of credits adding a cross mode value to the currency giving player a choice of how they earn. Online the credit approach is a friendly system that allows players to advance along the paths they desire rather than a pre-determined system that locks players out of upgrades depending on their level. Speaking of which.

Although players are assigned ranks and levels in a traditional sense Killzone also features an additional indicator of skill. Remember the bounty cards that need to be collected in the first round of the Warzone? Well these are tailored to represent players skill level combined with their play style. Each card is represented by a card from a traditional deck, players earn a rank from 2 to Ace depending on how much money they earned the previous day, the more credits earned the higher the representation. The suit is awarded depending on which weapons players scored the most kills with the previous day. Collecting the cards earns players awards and gives them incentive to kill as many types of players to collect their cards as possible. Additionally the card is a better indicator of current skill than a level.

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