Review by Typhoon Soldier 7
"Go for the kill!"
Have you ever read a book that didn't make any sense until you finished it? Or perhaps a movie that kept you thinking about every aspect of it for days after you walked out of the theater? Well, I can safely say that if you play through Killer7, you will find yourself in a VERY similar situation. However, it is definitely a love/hate game, which is why this review exists to point out various things about it. So let's move on into the review.
See, I told you this was a game you either love or hate. Killer7 utilizes a very unique graphical style which can either appeal to you immediately, or turn you off. However, there is no denying that the graphic's are stylish and it is obvious that the developers of this game created the graphical style as a labor of love. Despite the simplistic graphical style, it's hard to resist the visual presentation from growing on you.
The character design for the game is excellent. The main characters of the game, the Killer7, are all very unique characters, with none of them meeting typical industry stereotypes. Mask De Smith is a former masked wrestler who wears a cape and hefts two miniature grenade launchers with which he dispatches foes. Con Smith is a blind teenager with a long bandanna covering most of his head, a tank top, and massive headphones with which he TOTALLY ROCKS OUT. Kaede Smith is a barefoot woman wearing a slinky dress that, horrifyingly enough, is spattered with blood. Oh, and she wields a scoped pistol. And that's only three of the characters. As much as I'd love to talk about Travis (a ghost) or Ulmeyda's character designs, I have to move on. Suffice to say that the character design is flawless.
Easily the crowning achievement of this game, beating out even Metal Gear Solid 3, Killer7 is all about the story. A basic explanation is required, and I'll try to be as spoilerfree as is possible.
Basically, in an alternate 2003, world peace has almost been accomplished when, out of the blue, terrorism rears its head. A new cult-like group of terrorists known as the Heaven Smiles attacks a world UN meeting, sending the world community into the throes of terror. Only the professional assassin Harman Smith and his split personalities known as the Killer7 can combat the Heaven Smiles and go for the big hit on Kun Lan, an old friend of Harman and the leader and creator of the Heaven Smiles.
While this is the basic story, most of the game doesn't really revolve around it. The very first chapter works based off of this story, but then subsequent chapters delve into politics, religion, and heavier themes such as black market organ dealing, pedophilia, and of course, murder. Of course, this game is definitely not for children. The first chapter of the game will definitely show you that, as you see people being exploded into bloody showers by the Heaven Smiles. Oh, right, I almost forgot. The Heaven Smiles are former human beings driven insane by Kun Lan's "God Hand". Their only desire is to seek out people and then detonate themselves near their target.
Each chapter of the game contributes to the story in one way or another. You'll definitely be glued to your seat. The supporting cast carries you through slower parts of the story, and you'll be motivated by the villains. Andrei Ulmeyda, for example, seems to be a total nutjob, as is evidenced by his faking of orgasms before he detonates a stadium filled with people. However, once you meet up with him again, you'll find him to be a much more interesting guy. Overall, as I said before, the story is absolutely amazing, and I haven't met or spoken to anybody who saw the end result of the game coming.
The only weak area of the game is the gameplay. While fun, it is clear while playing that it wasn't the focus of Suda Goichi and the rest of the gang at Grasshopper and Capcom. The gameplay amounts to an FPS with puzzle-solving elements, but it's all on rails. You press the X button to run. This is the main thing that might make somebody concerned about this game's merit. The puzzles are all fairly easy, and on the normal difficulty, the Heaven Smiles have visible weak spots that, if shot, give you a one-hit kill. However, there is a twist: all of the Heaven Smiles are invisible. The main way to know if one is sneaking up on you, preparing to explode, is their sinister laugh. If you hear them, you can scan the area in an attempt to make them visible, at which point you can fire away.
Each member of the Killer7 has different weapons and abilities. Con Smith has dual automatic pistols, while Coyote Smith has a modified revolver. Each Smith has their own merits and occasionally you straight-up need to use a specific Smith to take out an enemy or bypass a puzzle. Overall, the gameplay is fun, but not very engaging.
The game's sound is, surprisingly enough, flawless. All of the voice actors are very professional and do very well with their characters. Garcian and Dan Smith, along with Ulmeyda, stand out the most in my mind. Mask de Smith also has a very good VA. The music is also friggin' amazing, with the song changing from area to area so you never get bored. Most notable is most of the music in Target 04: Alter-Ego (the game refers to separate levels or chapters as "targets" since you're usually out to off somebody) and the Gateway music, appropriately titled Rave On. So, like I said, it's perfect. Creepy, exciting, the lot.
Replay Value: Moderate (you may find yourself playing through again in order to experience the story again)
Overall, this game is excellent. However, it is still worthwhile to play the game before you pay for it. It is also worth noting that Target 00, the first level of the game, is very slow up until you reach the boss fight, so whatever you do, do not base your entire opinion of the game on it. Regardless of the flaws, Killer7 is an excellent experience that everybody, even you, have no excuse for not playing and buying it.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/01/05
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