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August 23, 2005
Killer 7 - Review
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The game is quite violent.
Killer 7 is a title that I have had my eye on for a couple of years now. From the moment I saw its bizarre cel shaded look I was intrigued. Another huge reason for my interest in this game was the fact that it was produced by Shinji Mikami the genius behind the Resident Evil series, and Hiroyuki Kobayashi who is one of the main men behind the upcoming Resident Evil 4 a game many a PS2 owner is going to fall in love with later this year. So with this much talent behind the game we should have an absolute gem on our hands with Killer 7 right? Well letís continue on and find out.

The story to Killer 7 is without doubt one of the highlights of the title. Itís the late 90ís and the world is in great shape, all the major countries have signed a peace treaty and all nuclear weapons and projects have been stopped. This all sounds good, but of course peace is not good business for terrorists. So Kun Lan starts up his own terrorist operation known as the heavenly smiles. The heavenly smiles are basically walking bombs, they come in many different varieties and each have different abilities, some can turn invisible, others attack you from ceilings but at the end of the day they all want to blow you to pieces.

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What the hell...
So with the world again living in fear the US government turns to one man Harman Smith. Harman Smith is a wheelchair bound assassin and as the game goes on you discover he was once partners and best friend to Kun Lan. Describing Harman as one man is actually incorrect, you see Harman Smith also has seven more personalities hidden inside his mind who can all be controlled and all have different skills. There is Garcian Smith who is a cleaner and the only person able to speak directly to Harman. Not only that, if any of your other personalities get killed, Garcian simply finds there head and puts it in a paper bag so they can be bought back to life. Dan Smith is a bit of a dirty harry type dude carrying a huge revolver at all times, Dan does not like Harman and is waiting for a chance to kill him, yep thatís right folks this game is seriously weird. Keade Smith is a female assassin who is also able to use blood as an attack and to solve puzzles, trust me I am not making this stuff up! Con Smith is fast and has a pretty fast firing style. Coyote Smith has the ability to jump long distances and scale onto roofs and ceilings to look for items. Kevin Smith does not carry a gun; he instead relies on throwing knives to take down the heavenly smiles. The final personality you take control of is Mask De Smith, a masked Mexican wrestler who dual wields grenade launchers, man hasnít this character already been done to death? Other than that you also meet quite a few other weird and wacky characters throughout the game.

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You'll love or hate these graphics...
Much like the story to the game the actual gameplay is also quite unlike anything else I have played in a long time. You see the real strange part of this game is that you can not move your character left or right. To move forward you press the X button then when you reach an intersection you are given the option to which way you want to go. You can turn 180 degrees by pressing the triangle button, it is an awkward system to say the least and it takes a long time to get the hang of. Then there is the combat which following the rest of the games lead is also unusual. Once you enter a room or passageway you may hear some sinister laughing, this indicates that there is an enemy nearby. For you to see the enemy however you must perform a quick scan of the room by pressing the L1 button. Then when you have spotted an enemy you draw your weapon with the R1 button and fire with a press of X. All of the shooting takes place from a first person view were you can not move. It is best described as an on the rails type shooter a bit like Silent Scope. The actual combat is ok though, each of the advancing enemies all have a particular glowing weak spot, which if hit correctly will instantly kill an enemy and gains you more thick blood to collect. Yes thatís right you have to collect blood in Killer 7 for a variety of reasons. Once you have enough blood stored up you can buy various upgrades for each of your characters, things like more power and faster attacks. Blood gained from your enemies also helps you heal your wounds.

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Look, a cut scene.
Puzzle solving also plays a big part in the Killer 7 experience. On the normal difficulty setting you are given plenty of clues about what you need to do next. Another weird part of this game is the people that give you hints; you see most of the people that give you tips are people that you have killed in your past as an assassin. When you come to a section of a level that you get stuck on, you usually just need to switch through all your personalities and try out there various skills to get you past. You can switch through your personalities on the fly or when you are in Harman Smiths room you can flip on the TV and switch them there, this is also the place where you upgrade your characters. Mission progress is made by collecting soul shells, when you have collected the levels required number you can trade them in to the gate keeper who then allows you access to the coliseum. In the coliseum you will face of against a new version of the Heavenly Smiles, and once defeated you are usually treated to a cut scene.

Not surprisingly Killer 7 does not feature any multiplayer. To be honest I canít see how they could have implemented it and made it playable. The game is clearly designed for a single player adventure.

So far Killer 7 has a lot going for it, a great story and a bizarre and interesting set of characters fighting it out in an unusual shooting system. Sadly there are a heap of faults that can turn this potential masterpiece into a game you want to snap clean in half. The first is the controls; they take along time to get used to and can prove cumbersome in combat. They are just too sluggish to make combat enjoyable. Also if an enemy manages to get behind you there is no time to turn, raise your gun and aim before they blow you up. Another problem of being blown up is that you then have to switch to Garcian and go back to the place the character died, pick up there head, then get returned to your last save point, revive them then continue on with the game. Plus another pain is that you can only save your game at certain times, which means with the game system you can lose a lot of time backtracking. Without doubt thought the most annoying part of this game is the load times, they are both frequent and lengthy. This is a real pain because Killer 7 does not seem to have anything that would test the Playstation 2 technically; it seems more like a case of lazy programming.

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Nice billboard that.
The graphics in Killer 7 are quite nice, with the cel shaded anime inspired look creating one of the more interesting looking games of recent times. The characters and levels all look quite good. The real joy to the visuals though is the cut scenes, these are without doubt superb. In fact watching the cut scenes is more enjoyable than playing the game.

Killer 7 is a game that really does come across as being more of cinematic style of game. There for not having Pro Logic surround sound support seems like a weird omission. Also most of the characters you meet all talk in a weird language so you have to read the subtitles, plus the enemy laughter becomes annoying after 5 minutes.

Overall Killer 7 is one of the most disappointing games I have played in ages. I found it on occasions quite a lot of fun, but the games faults always managed to bring it back to earth with a thud. It seems as though Capcom spent way too long on the characters and story and really ignored the gameplay and that sadly is a recipe for a pretty poor game. Donít get me wrong it is not the worst game ever and is worth a rental to see if you get into it; just donít go expecting to be riveted by the gameplay.

Review By: Graham Darko

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GRAPHICSGreat looking Cel shaded graphics suit the style of game perfectly.
SOUNDAnnoying sounds of enemy laughter and characters that talk in tongues add nothing to the game. No surround sound is a let down.
GAMEPLAYThe area where the game needed a lot more time spent. A frustrating game for the most part.
VALUEQuite lengthy and two difficulty settings give the game some life.
OVERALLThe game could have been so much better than what it did, that it has to be seen as a major let down.

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