Review by kiriyama2

""Oops, guess my trick didn't work on you." "Tricks are for kids Kun.""

Several years ago one of my first reviews on this site was the GameCube version of Killer7. Looking back on my initial effort it was… adequate, I find myself thinking that my earlier reviews are kind of, bad. I like to believe that my overall quality as a reviewer has increased, and are better than my ones from ‘04-'05. Why, if I had the drive and motivation I would actually go back and redo my old reviews. But, sadly, I don't have much time to do it (and I've misplaced some of the games I wanted to re-review), and as such I let them stay there for people to read. So anyway, on a journey to the local GameStop I looked around in their used PS2 games bin and saw a copy of Killer7. I stood there momentarily and reflected back onto my time with the game on the GameCube, and remembered that I had had quite a bit of fun with the game. So I decided what the hell and bought the game, regardless of already owning the game for the GC.

Killer7 has got a really unique set-up. You play as Harman Smith a wheelchair-bound sixty-ish year old man, who also happens to be one of the world's top assassins. Harman however has the dubious honor of housing seven separate personalities within him. These include Garcian Smith, who serves as Harman's right-hand man and liaison with their government informant. Dan Smith, the so-called “Hellion” who just seems like a gun toting thug, and carries a large revolver. Kaede Smith, a demure woman, who can bleed an inordinate amount of blood without dying, and uses a large automatic pistol with a rifle scope on it. Kevin Smith, known far and wide for making comedic indie-films that have a cult following (*rimshot*), but seriously is an albino mute who uses throwing knives. Coyote Smith, a South-American thief who can unlock any padlock and also uses a revolver (that's not quite as awesome as Dan's, but who cares). Con Smith, the youngest of the seven who is evidently blind and wields a pair of semi-automatic pistols. Lastly there's Mask de Smith, a luchador who wields a pair of grenade launchers.

Anyway, at the start of Killer7 Garcian is given a contract to assassinate the people manufacturing the creatures known as Heaven Smile. The Heaven Smile are basically biological weapons that explode when they come close to a person. As the Smiths make their way through the building killing off the Heaven Smiles, you suddenly turn into Harman and kill a girl with angel wings and find Kun Lan, the bad guy of the game. Kun Lan (called The God Hand, humorously enough Harman‘s the God Killer) is the leader of the Heaven Smile and appears to have a sort of tenuous friendship with Harman. After the intro mission you are given various assassinations to carry out. These include killing the owner of a sushi restaurant, a pair of corrupt Japanese politicians (who were shot in the head in a cinematic, yet they still move around and talk), the president of a company named Andrei Ulmeyda (who blows up a stadium full of people), and a comic book writer/artist named Trevor Pearlharbor (whose comic can foretell future events in the real world), to name a few. I really do like the story in this game, it's just very surreal and bizarre.

Graphically the game is really spectacular, maybe I'm just a sucker for cel-shading, but the graphics are just a delight. The character designs are pretty good, especially Mask de Smith, who gets four different costumes throughout the game. There's also Iwazaru, a servant of Harman who hangs in the air one a wire while wearing a red bondage suit with his eyes sewn shut. One of the more noteworthy things is the design of the Heaven Smiles. Who look somewhat like the Creature from the Black Lagoon only with different colors, like some will be a dark purple where some will be a bright yellow or sickly fleshy color. Sure for the most part the Smiles you'll encounter are just the tall rail thin ones, but they do throw some different looking ones your way. Like the Mithril Smile, which is just a regular Smile with what appears to be armor on its torso (which is silly since it's weak spot is almost always its arm and uncovered) . There's also the Protector Z and ZZ Smiles which are large brutes who are invulnerable to most attacks. One of the other types is the Spiral Smile which is just a giant orb that rolls toward you with a slight jingling noise. I don't know why, but I really like those guys (perhaps because they‘re easy to kill). Another great thing about the graphics is the fact that the environments are so good looking. They just lend themselves really nicely to the cel-shaded graphics.

I have absolutely no gripes with the audio in this game. I know there are people who hate the little raspy, rattling voice of some of the characters (like Iwazaru, Travis, Kess Bloodysunday, The Gatekeeper and Susie [who is a severed head]), but honestly I rather liked them. All of the voice acting in this game is exceedingly well-done. I even liked the high pitched psychotic laughter of the Heaven Smile (which varies between types, Protectors, for instance have a deeper tone). Also the music in the game is also amazingly done. It's just well made throughout the entire experience. But one of the better pieces of music comes from when you encounter the Gatekeeper during any of the missions. For some reason whenever you go through the doors to the “Vinculum gate” there's always this really spiffy techno-dance tune playing.

Gameplay in Killer7 is a curious beast. For the most part it's like a rail shooter where you just hold down X and your character will run along that path until you're presented with different paths. The combat is a first person shooter type thing where you aim your weapon at a Heaven Smiles critical point (a bright yellow spot) to instantly kill them. Sure you can just shoot a Smile until it's dead, but that's somewhat discouraged, firstly is because you don't get blood if you do that. Secondly, some of the Smiles, such as the Poison Smiles, can only be killed if you shoot their critical point.

Throughout the various levels in the game you'll often come across a “Harman's Room” which consists of a television, Harman's “nurse” Samantha (a woman who loves beating him it seems), and Iwazaru. The television is often used to switch between any of the various personas, but is also used to use the blood you collect. Collecting blood is much like the red orbs in Onimusha, in that as you collect them you can use it to be made into “serum” (to Heaven Smile I guess) which can be used to power up the personas. The blood can also be used to give them new abilities such as Counterattack, and the ability to fire off three shots and having it count as only one bullet. Also the nurse Samantha acts as a save point, but only on the times when she's wearing her maid outfit.

As might be expected each of the seven personae have their own special abilities. Garcian, for instance can revive the other personalities if they should die. Dan has a charged shot that kills Duplicators. Kaede has the strange ability of bleeding profusely from her wrist that destroys barriers and reveals hidden messages in blood. Kevin can turn invisible for a sustained period of time. Coyote can pick large padlocks with great ease, and can jump really high. Con has the ability of being able to run exceedingly fast and can fit into places that are too small for the other personalities to enter and can see hidden entrances. Mask has the ability to move large heavy objects out of the way, and can destroy walls with large cracks in it. The game doesn't really penalize you if you decide you want to play as Dan for most of the game, it's just at some key moments you have to switch to a different personality for a given obstacle.

The boss battles in this game are pretty entertaining as well. They aren't the usual just shoot the boss character a number of times. Most of the time you just have to find the weak spot on the given boss and shoot it. But the game does sometimes throw different ones at you. Such as the one where you have to shoot this rival assassin more times than she shoots you. Or the one where you have to wait for a bird to fly off a target before you can shoot him, which boils down to a sort of quick draw type of fight. However, for my money I think the boss fight against the Handsome Men, a superhero group like the Power Rangers, is the best boss fight in the game.

Try as I might I can't really think of much, or indeed anything wrong with this game. It is just an amazingly well-made game, actually there are a couple things that I can take an issue with. The story in this game is at times a bit confusing and labyrinthine. Also at times the targeting is annoying and the shots won't register, or it'll say that you shot something other than what you were aiming at.

This game is sort of the epitome of the love it or hate it ideal. A number of people I've talked to who've played the game seemed to enjoy it, but there are also those who seem to genuinely hate the game. I can understand why some people wouldn't like the rail shooter type of gameplay. Or the surreal and complicated plot, but really in my opinion Suda51 and the others at Grasshopper have made a really great game. It's really just a joy of a game, regardless of which platform you buy it for.

From what I recall though, the GameCube version is better.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/20/08

Game Release: Killer7 (US, 07/07/05)

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