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July 14, 2004
Kill.Switch - Review
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Rather simplistic visuals.
Namco have never been a company to completely dive into the realm of the 3rd person adventure game; theyíve tested the water with their little pinky with games such as Dead to Rights and I-Ninja, and more recently with Ghost Hunter. While these games cater for a wide range of tastes within the action genre, on the whole they have been well designed and are solid games. Kill.Switch is different yet again, letting you play the role of a skilled one-man-army, doing what any hero does the best... taking on the bad guys. To separate Kill.Switch from the crowd, Namco has incorporated new and improved AI into the game, with a unique offensive cover system and the ability to lay down blind fire. Sounds like a lot to comprehend? At first, possibly, but after time makes Kill.Switch quite a satisfying blast.

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Bishop is the name of the hero here, and fits your typical mucho-tough-yet-cool-as-a-cucumber image that has been used before in games such as Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid. After a brief weapons and tactics training session, Bishop is assigned missions and thrown into the action in locales including the Middle East, the Caspian Sea, and North Korea. Exactly who Bishop is, and why he has been assigned covert missions, is initially a mystery which slowly unfolds as you progress through the game. One thing to note though is that while the missions are labeled as Ďcovertí missions, the tranquility never seems to last more than 10 seconds before the guards pounce and send a shower of bullets in your general direction. This is fine however, especially given that the arsenal consists of heavy machine guns and shotguns rather than more Ďcovertí silenced weapons.

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Aiming at the chopper.
Gameplay is pretty straightforward, consisting of lots of running, shooting, hiding behind cover, and shooting some more. Thereís a little switch flicking and button prodding thrown in to mix things up a little, and while it may sound a tad repetitive the gameplay overall is enjoyable. To make Kill.Switch stand out from the crowd, Namco have added some clever cover abilities to the engine; when crouching behind a low wall, or next to a corner, Bishop can pop out momentarily to fire and take his enemies unawares. Furthermore, you can lay down blind fire by just poking your gun around the corner and letting the bullets fly. Of course the accuracy is significantly reduced this way, but when youíre down to your last sliver of health itís the only viable option.

Aside from the ability to fire from behind cover, there isnít that much that makes Kill.Switch stand out as being an innovation to the action genre as far as gameplay is concerned. The levels can be attempted in parts by using a stealth-like technique (by using a sniper rifle at distance for example), but at the end of the day you will always end up Ďdoing a Ramboí through the level; running like mad with your guns blazing. Unfortunately, all Rambos end up falling victim to a stray enemy bullet, but rather than having Ďlivesí, once you die, you must return to the beginning of the mission (missions consisting of several sub-missions). Itís a hefty blow having to replay quite large chunks of the game when you die, but given that youíre in effect granted infinite continues, it seems forgivable.

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Taking the high position.
The first thing that sprung to mind when I played Kill.Switch was Syphon Filter from years ago on the PSOne. While the gameplay is mildly similar, the visuals were where I made the association. While Kill.Switch has some flashy effects including rain, shadows, and (my personal favorite) flash-bangs, the models in-game arenít much more detailed than those from yesteryear. This is exaggerated during the few in-game engine cutscenes, which really donít do the PS2 any justice.

Visual simplicities aside, Kill.Switch is a well presented game. Thereís never a dull moment on-screen, and the game remains fluid even with countless explosions and enemies running around. The camera remains focused on the nearest threats, which is handy when running around going through magazines of ammo, but causes problems when walking slowly in tight spots; there youíre more likely to get a glimpse of Bishopís back rather than the enemy thatís about to cause you trouble. With regards to the visual presentation of the game, the menu screens, are basic, but are quickly accessed and laid out well.

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Manning the fixed guns.
What does a room full of firing machine guns sound like? Noisy? Indeed. Due to the nature of Kill.Switch, the Rambo-style of gameplay usually results in more gunshots than not. This is unavoidable, but itís a shame that it drowns out the action-blockbuster soundtrack that otherwise sets the scene perfectly. Namco have put obvious effort into the audio department though, with guns sounding noticeably different to each other, and bundles of ricochet effects (which youíd expect when covering from a hail of bullets).

Kill.Switch almost seems a little unfinished in itís current form; while the gameplay is great (although repetitive), there isnít much more than that. Iíve complained about the lack of extras and unlockables in games before, and Iíll be doing it many times more Iím sure. There are 2 difficulty levels to play through, but not much more than that; no 2 player mode, no bonuses, no cheats no nothing. Hopefully Namco can expand on what is a solid engine, and incorporate online play into a sequel, to take Sony head on against Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain (which wouldnít be incredibly hard to better).

Review By: Chris Gobbett

GRAPHICSAverage character models backed up with some showy effects.
SOUNDDramatic scores, riddled with oodles of gunshots.
GAMEPLAYKilling the bad guys is fun, but a little tedious without variety.
VALUEYouíll finish it, and thenÖ umÖ thereís not much else to do.
OVERALLKill.Switch is a solid action game for the PS2, but lacks depth and replay value. A good game to hire and shoot through over a weekend, but after playing through it once thereís little to keep you coming back for more.

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