Killer 7 review
It's weird but I can't look away from it
Seven ways to kill.
When you make a game, you can go about it in three different ways. You can make what everybody else is making and hope for the best. You can make something that feels like what everybody else is making but clearly isn't. Better yet, you can make something completely different and off the wall. Killer7 falls under the middle category, because in the most basic sense, it feels like Resident Evil with it's “gotta stand still while aiming” mechanic and puzzles while in a horror setting, but then you tamper with the personalities – that being this game's main selling point – and then it really starts to feel like its own game.
Killing of the senses.
Killer7 has quite possibly the weirdest story out there. It starts off rather sensibly, with world peace having been achieved. Unfortunately, for the world to work, there must be conflict, and this is where it starts getting weird. Enter a terrorist group known as the Heaven Smile, who are invisible mutants that can and will blow up. The thing about these buggers is that nobody can detect them. The Killer 7 is contacted to take them down. To make weird things even weirder, the Killer 7 are actually just split personalities that exist in the body of this guy named Garcian Smith, except these split personalities aren't just different in behaviour; they're also different in looks! This "squad" of killers is run by a decrepit old wheelchair bound man named Harman Smith... must be a rich *bleep*er to be able to hire somebody like Garcian... oh wait, Garcian is just a mental projection of Harman's seven personalities? Wow.
I'd keep going, but Killer7's story is better experienced than shared and told by peers and reviewers, especially since this game just gets weirder and weirder, especially the climax, which is just a huge mind*bleep*. It's interesting to note that its weirdness often conjures up a lot of curiosity in those who play it. Yeah, it's not all that well told of a story - often feeling like different stories rolled into one big sticky story ball, but that just adds to its weirdness. There's so much to experience, that even though it's not that great from a technical standpoint, boy oh boy, you'd be silly to not want to see it through to the end. I'll promise you that.
Is it on rails, or what?
The style of play is rather... interesting. Instead of being able to move freely, you'll be moving along a rigid line. Sounding like an on-rails shooter to you? Well, not quite. First off, you'll have to hold X in order to move. Next off, you'll be given branching paths, and exploration will be encouraged... even if it doesn't seem like it is, given that you're probably missing a vital item or something. Finally, backtracking will be encouraged when you get more items and shit, but the path forward is blocked off and nothing you do works. Just a press of the triangle button will let you turn around, and from there, it's time to go to areas you haven't really been to before. That, and while running around the levels, you'll find rooms designated to Harman, which basically act as save rooms or upgrade rooms, which are things you'll want to do. There's quite a lot of attention paid to detail with these level designs, especially given the style of movement...
While we're on about the style of play, you'll remember me mentioning that the Killer 7 is just a guy with split personalities. Well, each of these personalities have their own unique styles. You have your well rounded fighter Dan; tough dude with *bleep*ing dual grenade launchers Mask De; sniper and token chick KAEDE; dual automatic dude Con; lock picker Coyote; knife thrower Kevin; and finally, the dude himself, Garcian. I say "the dude himself" because if you die while playing as Garcian, the game ends, but if you die as any of the other six, you'll just switch to whoever is left. Having said that, Garcian can revive any dead personalities, provided that he can get to their severed heads. However, Garcian is perhaps the weakest fighter. You can't upgrade him in any way, and his weapon isn't much to write home about... I doubt you'd be using him just to kill enemies, anyway.
However, it feels like a bit of a waste, because you'll only really need Dan and Mask - and perhaps Con if you want - most of the time. The rest are only really useful during puzzles that require their special abilities. Whether it's slitting their wrists to open up barriers or using their insane sense of hearing to sense something sight cannot, it's at least nice to give each personality some unique traits. Sadly, it doesn't necessarily transfer over to combat. Again, it's a bit of a waste.
Combat in this game is as you'd expect from a first person shooter, except you can only move your head. So like Resident Evil, but with a good camera angle. At first, it will feel rather awkward as you'll have to run, listen for screams, stop, hold the aim button, press the scan button (oh yeah, you'll have to do some sort of scanning command before you can fight - they're invisible, otherwise), find the weak spot and open fire. I mean, technically, you can just let loose because you have infinite ammo, but when surrounded, it's better to just hit the weak spots. If you hit them elsewhere enough, though, you can disable their movements on that part, like shooting them in the leg will make them crawl.
Don't think for a second that you're going without boss fights. If there's combat, you better believe that you'll have boss characters to kill. It's easy for me to sum it up by saying that it's all in the timing, because each boss fight requires you to shoot at specific times, but the way they go about it... actually makes for some pretty intense boss fights. Not only that, but not one boss fight is the same. Sure, they have the same ideologies, but never really the same execution.
When you kill the Heaven Smiles, you'll get some blood... thin and thick. Thin blood can rejuvinate your health and fuels your special abilities while thick blood can be converted into serum, which is basically your experience points. You're able to increase stats like speed and power while gaining additional special abilities, like close quarter attacks.
Now, looking at the cel shading, you'd think that it wouldn't make sense to have so much dark, mature and just plain violent shit... hah. If anything, the cel shading just helps give it that comic book look that looks damn fine. The designs for the Heaven Smile are weird enough to get your attention, while everything else is designed to look realistic while retaining that cel shaded comic book style. Not to mention, the animations are all quite smooth... Unfortunately, it's all wrecked by some lag and long load times. The Gamecube version has better load times and almost zero lag, so it's more of a problem with the PS2 than anything else.
The sounds you make just before you die.
The soundtrack is *bleep*ing sick. Most of it just sets the right mood, but goddamn, does it ever! Whether it's dim and dirty techno music or a grungy rock/techno hybrid, there's always something to give the game a lot of ambiance. But it's the voice acting that'll get your attention. Everything has just the right voice, whether it be mysterious, badass or plain psychotic – seriously, some of the characters here sound so psychotic, that they have their own garbled and incoherent language, which can be a little creepy... but yeah, the voice actors did a damn good job, and whoever did the laughs for the Heaven Smiles should get a medal because *bleep*, at times, it really keeps you on edge!
Kill or be killed?
Killer7 is definitely not for everybody. Not just in the gameplay, but also with the story. The gameplay is good, but it has its share of flaws. But that's nothing compared to just how weird the story gets as you progress, eventually ending with something that's going to blow your mind. In spite of every single flaw it has, it is a game that must be experienced at least once. With most games, you can already tell if you're going to enjoy it or not because everybody wants to copy each other and not offer much, if anything new, exciting or refreshing to the table – not this game. It's not great, but it's just got that “oomph”, that X factor that'll have you overlook the flaws and have your taste buds decide for you.
It doesn't make much sense, especially the ending. Progression feels fairly disjointed and the overall content goes from sensible to weird almost as soon as you start the game. But it does all of this in a way that's... pretty damn interesting, like you want to know just how weird it can get.
The shooting and puzzles are solid enough, if a bit flawed in the former and just insulting in the latter. The only problem is in its extreme linearity - would've worked greatly if exploration was possible. On the flipside, the boss fights are excellent.
They feel a bit archaic, but if you stick with them, you'll find yourself not being too bothered by them.
There are some gorgeous cel shaded graphics and fluid animations... plus lag and long load times.
Voice acting is spot on and the soundtrack is pretty sick in that ambient kind of way.
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