Review by DeanLow

"Killer Game That May Not Be To Everyones Taste"

It is difficult to know where to begin when reviewing Killer7. The very aspects, which, in my mind, make this game so enjoyable, may also be the very aspects that prevent many gamers from even taking a second glance when they pass it in their local video game store.

The plot revolves around the confrontation between two long-term nemesis, namely Harman Smith and Kun Lan (who was thought to be long dead). When Kun Lan unleashes a group of violent creatures known only as "Heaven Smiles" upon the civilian population it is up to wheelchair-bound assassin Harman Smith and is psychotic split personalities, known as the "Killer7", to put a stop to the mayhem.

The actual gameplay of Killer7 is also difficult to describe. While exploring the game is played from a third person, over the shoulder perspective, very much like another of Capcoms franchises Resident Evil 4. However unlike most modern games that allow complete freedom of movement Killer7 decides to keep the action 'on-rails'. Rather than using the analogue stick for movement, you simply hold X to move forward until you reach a junction at which point you simply push the left analogue stick in the direction you wish to go. While this can frustrate at first, this method very much allows Killer7 to retain its focus by forcing the player to head onwards.

The puzzle elements incorporated into the game are usually fairly simplistic and often involve simply switching to another of the personalities to achieve a certain task. For example "Coyote Smith" is the only personality able to pick locks. The map often simplifies matters even further by highlighting which personality or item is required for each section so. Fortunately more thought is required in combat.

When an enemy enters the players' vicinity, usually indicated by a strange laughter sound, (the Heaven Smiles seemingly not knowing the meaning of the word stealth) the player switches to a first person view in order to target the enemy before they reach you and explode on contact. Far from a mindless turkey shoot tackling the Heaven Smiles requires a great deal of thought, not to mention speed and accuracy, from the player. The Heaven Smiles, although similar in appearance, come in a number of different guises each with their own weaknesses that need to be exploited, particularly when you are being attacked by large numbers at once. The player is additionally rewarded for hitting enemies' weak spots as they receive more blood that can be used to upgrade the speed/accuracy/power of any of the Smith personalities.

Having said all this the one thing that really sets Killer7 apart from the other hundreds of third person adventure games available is the unique atmosphere it manages to create. Key in achieving this is the use of Cel-Shaded graphics, which compliment the style and pace of the game perfectly. A special mention should also go to the sound effects including the strange voices of the Smiths ghostly allies.

The one major complaint I have of the PS2 version is the overly long loading screens between some rooms. On the odd occasion it took up to 10 seconds for the next screen to load when you leave a room. I have heard though that this is not the case on the Gamecube version (which despite owning a Gamecube I have not played) so if you have the choice look for that version first.

Although the control system and strangeness may put off many gamers this is a fantastic and atmospheric adventure that will last you for a good 20 hours. Now available for under 20 quid make sure you catch it while you can.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/10/06

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