killer 7 PS2 Review
killer7 was first unveiled as part the fabled “Capcom 5”. Now if I remember correctly these 5 titles were supposed to remain exclusive to GameCube and “give us gaming like we had never seen before”. Not all of Capcom’s promises went to plan as Viewtiful Joe and Resident Evil 4 are now (or soon to be) multi console titles. Another title (Dead Phoenix) was cancelled after almost a year in development. P.N. 03 was not well received by the public but still offered gamers something new and different. Now we have the final installment of the “Capcom 5” (or 4) in our hands, it’s the PS2 version (it isn’t exclusive anymore!). Welcome to killer7 and it goes without saying that this game is a huge break from the norm!
Okay if I know how to read people, and I think I do, there should be two classes of people reading this review. The first will be the usual “should I buy the game” crowd and the second will be a brand of people that killer7 has created. This crowd may despise Capcom’s latest creation but have only played the first hour of the game. You have probably now got very annoyed and possibly despise the game to its very core. You are also probably very, very close to returning it to the place of purchase. If you are now franticly looking around for you receipt then please stop! killer7 is something very special, it is something new and it is very innovative which is something you don’t get from most games released these days. If you have the patience and can persist past the first 2 hours (or even better to the end) and want to play something new and different killer7 is for you. Now let me tell you why….
The year is 2003 and a new wave if terror is spreading fear and panic throughout every continent. This global threat goes by the unassuming name of “Heaven Smiles” who are an army of walking bombs who are under the control of Kau Lan. There is a solution to this problem and that is Harman Smith and his myriad personality of highly trained assassins named killer7. killer7 consist of Garcian Smith, Dan Smith, MASK De Smith, Coyote Smith, Kevin Smith, KAEDE Smith and Con Smith. Each of these personalities have their own special abilities which can be upgraded during the course of the game.
As you play the game you can switch between each of these characters at anytime using each of their talents to progress further into the game. Some areas can only be accessed by certain characters while other clues can only be seen by certain characters. They will all be needed to be used at one time or another. The method used to control these characters is very unique and is kind of an evolution of the “on the rails” control method seen in REZ or Panzer Dragoon Orta but gives you limited control of your chosen character. Instead of using the control stick to control the character motion is achieved through a single button (up on the pad or “X”). Pressing this moves your character forward on a predetermined path. Another button press (down on the pad or “triangle”) will cause your character to do a 180 degree turn and return the way they came. Using this method you can explore the environment entering different areas when given on-screen prompts.
If you hear Heaven Smile laugh (and you will hear them alot) a quick press of a shoulder button will take you into FPS view where you can either scan or shoot them. Most enemies have a small yellow dot on them which if hit will result in a one-shot-kill and they will then disintegrate. Each member of killer7 has a different weapon of choice ranging from dual automatics to a custom Magnum with one member having just knives to defend himself. Once a member of the Smiles is dead you can gather his blood, which can be picked up in vials. Blood can be used to upgrade abilities or to heal yourself.
Almost every room in the game contains a puzzle which may have to be solved in order for you to continue. These puzzles range from finding items to just picking the correct character to unveil a clue. None of the solutions to these puzzles will be staring you in the face. Some will require a lot of thinking but none of the puzzles should leave you stumped for very long if you just use your brain!
Now while most of killer7’s gameplay mechanics aren’t revolutionary they do however work very well. They are a means to an end to propel and progress the story in a new and interesting way. If the game was just a FPS or if it was just a Point and Click adventure the mechanics of these genres would have not done the game justice. The weird and sometimes slightly off-putting gameplay does work and without it no matter how rudimentary it may be killer7 would not be as unique, interesting or compelling
It goes without saying that the anime inspired graphics in killer7 are unique and are at all times mind blowing and fantastic. They are unlike anything you have seen before (in a computer game) and probably won’t be repeated again or copied by anyone (unless Capcom give us a sequel). It is impossible to judge the games visual appeal by just looking at screenshots, even watching a video does not do the game justice. You have got to play the game and be immersed in the crazed story to appreciate the stylistic masterpiece the guys at Capcom have laboured over for years. The animation is also very well done with all walking and reloading looking very life like with none of the seven personas feeling alike.
What pulls this unique graphical style together are the forced camera angels that you are given once you enter an environment. Many people have come to hate these forced angles as they were the vein of many a Resident Evil game in the past few years but killer7 shows they can be used to great effect and the whole game is better because of it. The game gets better the further you progress into it with many of the final moments been visually awe inspiring with many distinct cut scenes you should remember for ages after completing the game.
Much like the graphics, the sound in killer7 tries to be as unique as it possibly can be. Most of the conversations you will have with NPCs in the game will contain garbled speech that sound English-like but bears much more resemblance to the rambling of a crazed man. This may seem weird at first but after a while you will get used to it, although it forces you to read many subtitles throughout the game with the line “were in a tight spot” popping up a few more times than is welcome!
The music is exciting and is paced excellently at all points of the game. There is no set theme to the music as it jumps through lots of different styles with high and low tempo composition meddling well together. All the main characters muttering one liners when they score a critical hit. The most distinctive of these is Coyote Smith’s “You’re F*****!”.
While single player games are usually not great in the replay value stakes killer7 makes itself a worthwhile purchase by giving you almost 20 hours worth of compelling story to play though. Most importantly once completing the game once you unlock a new personality to play the game with, technically making the game killer8. This new character really enhances and sometimes changes the way you play the game so you can play though the game again in a different way than before. Two games for the price of one? We will take that thank you very much!
For a game that explores topics such as terrorism, viruses, child trafficking, human organ harvesting and schizophrenia and also contains extremely violent, profane and sexual situations it goes without saying that killer7 is not for everyone and definitely not for people under 18 years of age. It makes some of the stuff seen in Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto look like an episode of Barney the Dinosaur. It makes Carl Johnson look like Baby Bop and Tommy Vercetti look like Tinky Winky. This time the big “18” on the box means something parents! So if little Johnny starts crying wanting killer7 then you better just get out of the store because he will be crying a whole lot more if you buy it for him.
killer 7 is for a mature audience and for those old enough to watch and play it you are in for a great experience. The story is akin to some David Lynch film scripts but can be even more dark and disturbing at times. Like I said at the start of this review many people are going to hate killer7 just because it is different. Being different doesn’t necessarily mean that it is bad. killer7’s quality does not emerge until you are a few hours into its dark tale. I urge anyone that buys killer7 to try your best to stick with it to the end. If you do you are in for one hell of an experience!
8.6 out of 10