Review by one2punch

"Don't miss out on one of this generations most laudable experiences"

Let it be known that I joined GameFAQs for the sole purpose of commenting on special games like Killer 7. For every 10 Halos, there is maybe one or two truly original games like Killer 7. Now, Halo is a fantastic game don't get me wrong, but games that break the mold are necessary to keep gaming fresh. I know such games seldom make record breaking sales figures, which is a shame because it denies them of a sequel. But these games need a voice because in such a liscenced, sequel ridden industry original games are like gold. Killer 7 has become quite the hot topic, with lawsuits surrounding the game's content and its characteristic hate/love aura. I may be in the game's "love" camp, but I believe that Killer 7 is an outstanding game which should be enjoyed by every gamer old enough to understand its mature mythos. I will say right in the beginning, that my score of an 8 is not because of the games design or content, but because of small pet peeves in the gameplay, and in its technical aspects.

Graphics

Killer 7's graphics are excellent. However, good and bad can't apply here because they are imposed for the sake of style. We all know what Capcom is capable of considering their front line games, and every bright color and "sore spot" in Killer 7 is tailor made in this game for a purpose. Simply, you either like the style or you do not. It isn't quite cell shaded, but it certainly isn't polygonal. It does not have the cartoony look of say Ultimate Spider-Man, but uses the cell shaded effect for its color and starkness. It is an abslolute perfect reflection of the dark seeded story and psychotic characters. Polygons would have simply looked silly. Blood is treated much like the exeggerated paint used in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, however such blood does not take away from the gore. The effects, although fitted to a cell-shaded world, look excellent as well. The game primarly uses solid colors to portray scenes and characters, like Garcian Smith's all white suit, or Dan Smith's all black suit. This creates a use of color I have never seen before in a video-game, which also serves a characterizing purpose. The characters themselves are designed flawlessly. Each Smith was certainly given tender, love and care to create stylish, unique and downright bad-ass characters. Each character definately has the "out-there" feel characteristic of Japanese artists of this ilk, but never is it poured on too much. I usually do not like the hyper-stylzed, ultra cooky Japanese characters in games, but these look different, edgy, but down to earth at the same time, making them a joy to become.

Story

This is a hard one. I don't want to say too much, for the sake of spoiling it, and also because its impossible to understand without playing the game. The story is packed with violent, political, religious, and psychotic undertones which, much more than the gore, sex, and provocative situations, take a mature mind to understand. To give a brief summary, the world has achieved a global peace with the demilitarization of the major world powers. However, only a few years after the peace a suicide bomber wielding terrorist organization starts to break the global peace down. The suicide bombers are invisible, and can penetrate any security system to truely put the world in fear. These bombers are your primary enemy, even though as an assassin, each level has a hit to complete. These hits are connected to the larger story. The assassin, Harman Smith, is really composed of 7 assassins, all with their own function and purpose. The Killer 7 as they are called are commissioned by the United States to uncover and stop the Heaven Smile bombers. The story is very good, and everything in the game from the gun-toting to the graphics are a vehicle to carry the story. Many think it is convoluted, and hard to grasp. But in my opinion, it is no more so than Metal Gear Solid 2, or movies like Fight Club, Se7en, or A Beautiful Mind. In fact it shares more than a few resemblences to those movies and others, which also makes it intriguing to me. With dead bodies, severed heads, ghosts and past hits becomming recurring characters, Killer 7 really drops you into a neurotic mess, asking you to peace together the wordly chaos and schizophrenic turmoil that the game centers around. It gets to a point where you have to ask yourself, is any of this even real at all. These are the types of questions Killer 7 makes you ask, and why it is so great. This is the one aspect of this game I can soundly say is head and shoulders above every other top-tier Capcom game like Devil May Cry, Resident Evil and Onimusha.

Gameplay

This is where my opinions are quite different from the vast public on this game. Many see the semi-rail control, and robotic shoot-outs as a sore spot on the game. I just want to comment that the action is enthralling, the shooter-esque combat is awesome, and the rails system is welcome and even nessessary for the game. A more traditional third person view would just be absurd after playing the game as it currently stands. The only other control layout that would work is the Resident Evil 4 over the shoulder layout. But, that view would severly hurt the effectiveness of the slow and uneasy tension created by the Heaven Smiles. To summarize, the game plays like a three way combination of Myst, Resident Evil, and House of the Dead (maybe Dino Stalker since you do have some free movement). Just the fact that it resembles a great click game like Myst is enough for me. You move forward with X, and you 180 turn with Triangle. Thats it. Rooms, hallways and other paths are all shown and chosen as if from a menu (but very fast and smooth, not prohibitive at all). The principle aspect of the gameplay is again, style. The one track method makes your assassin look professional and again, like a bad-ass. He/she at least always looks like he knows where he is going, even if you don't. Its allows a very stylistic camera system which does not get in the way. If you want to look around you just go into 1st person mode. Its very easy, and makes for a pleasurable experience. It creates one of the most cinematic games I have ever played, and really that is the point. It looks similar to Fear Effect on the Playstation, however I remember that in that game the camera always got in my way, and the fumbling manual control system contrasted with the look of the graphics. Not so here, which is why it just works. It may seem archaic, but if anything it isn't because its never been done before, and I simply wouldn't have it any other way. Just to put it on the Onimusha/Devil May Cry/Maximo/Devil Kings/Dynasty Warriors/Genji (the list goes on) assembly line would have been the real disservice. The action takes place in first person, like a shooter, each Smile has a sweet spot which destroys them on contact, creating a very cool slow motion blood effect. There are various types of Smiles, all of which want to run into you and explode. Some run, some walk, some crawl. The combat scenarios are very exciting. You can change killers on the fly, each has a different weapon whether it be a revolver, double automatic pistols, throwing knives, or grenade handcannons. Each has special moves and gainable moves. Also each has abilities which can be built up RPG style. Its a fun system, and makes the action intense and fresh. I am very happy with the gameplay. There really is no reason not to be.

Sound

Like the graphics, the sound is excellent. It really makes use of a good sound system. The music is great, and adds to the disturbing atmosphere. The gun shots, although not as booming as you would expect, sound more stylized and still create a good effect. The Smile laughter is downright nerve-racking, and the various voices of the ghosts, dead bodies and other supplementary characters will stay with you in your sleep. Their subtitled "non-speech" has to be experienced to be believed. The game relies on its disturbing sounds (like the gut-wretching screams in the hub world) to really get to you, just like it uses disturbing images. The voice-acting is also right on.

Replay

The story is quite long, about 15-20 hours. Some websites say 30 depending on the person. In comparision, Shadows of the Colussus was aboyt 10 hours, and Resident Evil 4 was about 20 hours, and each are games people have been eating up. After you beat the game a new character opens up, and there are two more difficulties. Considering normal can be quite hard (the puzzles can also be a little mind-numbing), these other difficulties I am sure are quite entertaining. A second play through would surely benefit your understanding of the story. Any way you look at it, it is worth the money and will keep you occupied at least until the next game on your wish list comes out.

The only thing that brings down my score is slow-down. It happens only when there are too many things going on the screen, but it can be very annoying at times, although it isn't so bad as to hurt the games good points. I've made it a point to play all the ps2 games which are truely original like Killer 7. I hunted down Ico and just bought and beat Shadows of the Colussus. Killer 7 was next on the list, and it is truely an addictive experience. Its visuals are unprecidented due to its unique style. The gameplay is as fun as any other top-tier game, even though it might take a few minutes to get used to. The sound is haunting, and the story is spectacular. Killer 7's story totally trumps Resident Evil 4, which I personally thought to be engaging but not particularly fresh. If nothing else, it is the sole reason to play this game. Rent or Buy? For its release price of 39.99, it is a must have. You can get it at EB for 24.99 new right now, and for this price its a no brainer, especially considering it will probably be hard to find in the near future. Its a game that must be experienced, and certainly one that belongs in action/adventure gamer's PS2 (or should I say Playstation Family---One, 2, and soon 3) library.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/23/06


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