Killer 7

A game that's a psychotic mind trip.


The Lowdown

Pros: The base of the game is one part psychological thriller and one part original gameplay.

Cons: Probably too confusing and gameplay wise too unique for most people to jump into.

Purchase at Play-Asia

Purchase at Lik-Sang

After years in development with multiple delays Capcom's eagerly awaited Killer 7 arrives. In the shadow of Resident Evil 4 and the Viewtiful Joe, Killer 7 was the most unique title out of the elusive Gamecube five. After release date change and pushback Killer 7 now arrives on the PS2 with a variety of changes from the original build.

The main concept is the same, you play as an assassin called "Smith" with seven distinct multiple personalities. Each of the "Smith" personalities are unique. Different weapons, skills and so forth. Kaede, the girl with the blood soaked dress, is skilled with long range shooting since she has a gun with a scope. Con is blind, but he can out run anything. Mask de Smith dons a wrestling mask and has a powerful shot that can blow up walls. Each different personality can be switched on the fly by entering the new choice in the main menu. Once you select a new personality a cool effect plays where your current character explodes into a sea of red balls and then comes together as the new character happens. Changing characters serves two purposes. First you'll need to alter characters to solve puzzles and access new areas. Secondly, since each character has a unique style of attacking switching characters is like switching weapons. If you want a powerful slow shot you want to change into Dan because he carries a magnum or Coyote with his custom revolver. Con specializes in riddling enemies with bullets, while Mask holds a single shot grenade gun.

Killer 7 has it's fair share of shooting, but it's quite different from anything in any other game. You can't actually see the elusive Heaven's Smile cult that you're battling against. Instead you'll have to keenly listen for their maniac laugh, hold out your gun by pressing R and then scan the area by pressing down L. Your average cult monster doesn't shoot back. In a creepy zombie style the fanged entity runs towards you and will explode on contact. When you're running around on screen they act like moving land minds. Once locked on you can shoot them blindly, where a couple of shots will send one to the abyss. Or if you're patient and lock on for a longer time you'll spot a weak point. Shooting the weak point instantly kills the cult member.

If you think how you attack  is a bit unusual wait until you see how gameplay is set up. There is no free running around or random exploration in Killer 7. Instead you hold the A button down to run forwards until you reach a fork in the road or a door to enter. At this point a menu pops up and you can select where you want to run by picking a direction then pushing A. Some people have made the analogy of calling it an "on rails" game, which isn't kind of the truth. Unlike "rail" games you're not forced to go forward, pressing B allows you to do a 180 turn at any time and you can alter the speed at which you move. Killer 7 also expects gamers to run backwards and not merely press forward to the next area. Puzzles are adventure styled where you item fetch or at times have to intelligently deduce an answer. The forced movement does ease the pain of random interaction in adventure games. Since there is a limited amount of things you can interact with, gamers already have a clearer idea of how to solve puzzles.

Speaking of puzzles Killer 7 has plenty of them. The item fetching puzzles aren't a real challenge, but there are some puzzles that will make you think. Clues on how to solve them are given in mysterious words by red spandex Iwazaru's. Some of the puzzles play on the game's psychotic setting to confuse the actual player. Even the boss battles are puzzles of their own. Instead of actively running and dodging, boss battles have more creative solutions to them. One boss has a single weak point, an exposed brain. It's simply seen, but how do you shoot the back of it's head? We won't ruin the answer, but you really have to pay attention to the pattern and if you watch closely you can break it for a clean head shot.

Killer 7's presentation is nothing short of phenomenal. The surreal cel shaded style looks great. It allows easy blending of obscure objects and makes hallways look endless. Killer 7 really does look like a living comic book, something few games have attempted. The frame rate in Killer 7 never drops another achievement by the Capcom team. The voice acting fits the game, but some people are bound to be frustrated by it. The robotic sounding voices are creepy, but are so distorted that gamers may need to hear the same thing a couple of times before understanding the clue. Killer 7 is bereft of an over arching sound track. Background music fades in and out, which is for the better since there are so many audio cues to pay attention to. A chime plays when you're around something related to a puzzle and you need to be alert to hear for Heaven's Smile members.

The ride of Killer 7 can easily last for over fifteen hours, with a new mode unlocked upon completion. Gamers eager for something different and darker will eat Killer 7 up. Whereas some gamers will absolutely loathe the game because it takes time to get into and time to relearn controls. Although everyone into horror games like the Silent Hill and Resident Evil should play Killer 7 at the very least. It's innovation deserves a trial play, just give it time and it will grow on you.

Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 3

The good part is all of the voice acting is in English, so you won't miss any of the creative story telling. Yet, the English voices have a distorted robotic sound to them, which makes understanding them awfully difficult. Most of the import menus and text are in English, too. Still, there are some important memos and hints in Japanese that pose this game slightly more difficult than a literacy level 2 game.

US Bound?

In a marketing ploy Killer 7 will be released on July 7th.

Overall

Killer 7 is a love or hate it deal. It's creative gameplay, cryptic story and thoughtful boss fights will have gamers who are into unique game singing praise. On the other hand causal gamers looking for a first person shooter, action game or expecting a "traditional game" will be scratching their heads at what Capcom created.