Review by WhyNotAl

Reviewed: 10/31/05

Killer Game, But Not Everyone Can Step Into the Mind of an Assassin

Killer 7 is unlike any game you have ever played. The tagline on the back of the box seems simple enough: "Step into the mind of an assassin." However, once you pick up and play the game, you'll realize how drastically different Killer 7 is from most games, both in story and in gameplay. Killer 7 seems to revolve around an elderly assassin named Harman Smith, the leader of a group of assassins called the Killer 7. The syndicate is no ordinary group of assassins, however, since it appears that they may just be multiple personalities residing in one person. Peace is threatened when terrorists called Heaven Smiles begin attacking. Unlike normal terrorists, Heaven Smiles are former human beings who have been transformed into laughing creatures who generally attack by running at their targets and exploding on impact. What's more, they are usually invisible to the human eye. And so, the Killer 7 are sent to stop these terrorists and to restore peace. However, there is more to the Heaven Smiles and the Killer 7 then one may think...

Story: 9/10
The story starts out complex, and never becomes simple. Twists and turns in the story come frequently, and just when you think you understand the story, another plot twist is revealed. Those who like stories that gives away everything about the plot should look elsewhere, since the player has to put the pieces together to further understand the story. The game also raises some philosophical and political questions that push the player into using their brain even more. Killer 7 leaves some unanswered questions once you beat the game, but it enhances the story by letting players make their own speculations. Killer 7 is probably the most thought provoking game ever created, and many players may have to play through several times to barely understand it.

Gameplay and Controls: 6/10
Combat in the game revolves around the player controlling a member of the Killer 7 to fight against Heaven Smiles. Any assassin can be selected at any time you need them (except for the resurrector of the group). Holding the aim button locks the player into a stance and switches the perspective to first person. The player then needs push another button to scan the Smiles so that they become visible and vulnerable. Players can attack the Smiles until they die, but it is faster and more worth while to find their weak points and attacking it. These weak points appear a glowing yellowish or orangish spot on their bodies when the target hair is on the area. Successfully hitting these weak spots not only kills the Smile in one hit, but rewards you with more blood than killing them normally. Blood in turn is used to heal the player, use special attacks, and to upgrade the assassins' abilities and stats. Combat encourages players to increase their precision and to be quick at aiming and rewards the player for shooting well. The Heaven Smiles themselves are varied, so the player must adjust their strategy when combating certain Smiles. The boss fights are the most unique moments in the game. The fights are creative, ranging from standoffs, fighting executives who throw pieces of their brain at you, and duels against a Power Ranger-like group. None of the boss fights are similar, and it's nice to see how varied they are. If an assassin dies, the player can have the resurrector, Garcian, take the dead body and revive it, so technically, the player has unlimited lives. The only way to get a game over is if Garcian dies, but you will rarely use him for combat. The gameplay outside of combat, however, is rather dull. Players never actually control the characters' movements. Instead, players travel on a "rail." Pushing the movement button makes the character go forward on a set path, and pushing another button makes the character turn around to go back where they came from. The player will often come up to "junctions," forks in the path that allow players to go different ways. The advantage of this system is that it is harder for the player to get lost, since all paths that the player can take have a purpose, whether it be a secret area or a conversation with an npc. But of course, it can be rather boring not being able to directly control the characters. The player will occasionally have to solve a puzzle, and unfortunately, the puzzles are very easy. Most of them involve the player using a certain assassin or item in a certain area, which, on normal mode, is all revealed on the map. Even on the harder difficulties, the puzzles are simple because most they involve simple logic. If one can not figure out a puzzle, there is always an npc who will give you a usually blatant hint. Even if you can not figure it out after that, there is a npc who specializes in giving hints who will tell you what to do if you give him some blood. For a game that forces you to use your brain to figure out the story, the puzzles are too easy and obvious.

Graphics and Presentation: 10/10
The game exerts a lot of style in this department. The character models themselves how a lower polygon count than games should have in this generation, but it enhances the comic book flare of the game. What Sin City does for comics in the movies, Killer 7 does for comics in games. The game fully utilizes cel shading to make the game look like a comic, and throws in an occasional anime cutscene that surprisingly fit well for the moment. The camera angles are dramatic and cinematic, largely possible due to the game's movement system. The character designs are creative, especially the various enemies you encounter in the game. The graphics and presentation are some of the strongest points of the game.

Audio: 9/10
The sound and music fit the game perfectly. The Heaven Smiles' laughter is downright creepy and perfect. The voices of the ghosts may sound odd at first, but fits them and is done well. The voice acting of the characters are also done well, and each voice fits each character. However, one thing that got to me were the one liners the characters made when you hit an enemy's weak spot. Each character has only one phrase that they say when you get a critical hit, so it becomes annoying hearing them say the same phrase over and over. Some of the music is odd, ranging from techno to acoustic guitar, but fits the game's tones and the area that you are currently in.

Replayability: 7/10
Killer 7 is a game that you must replay after beating it, but not because of the unlockables. The unlockables are somewhat dull since they only include several different difficulties and one new character to play as (who you may have fun using at first, but will later stop using because the other characters are more useful in later situations). Instead, replayability is a must to further understand the story and to re-experience the style and highlights in the game.

Overall: 8/10
A revolutionary game that everyone must experience, but not everyone will enjoy. Killer 7 is highly stylish and the story is engaging, but some may be too confused by the story or will find moving a character to be too different. Killer 7 should be rented first to decide whether it should be bought. For those who can get past the movement and the sometimes strange story, they will find an enjoyable experience that will have a lasting impression on them.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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