Note to all readers: This review contains sensitive and mature content that is featured in the game, please refrain from reading if you are easily offended.
Release Date: 7/7/05
Platform: GameCube/Playstation 2
For years, game developers have strived to achieve true artistic representation of their ideas through a certain styling of visuals. These passions gave birth the gaming masterpeices such as Ico and Rez; but now we have finally come to a point where artistic innovation, political strife and stylized violence come together in a fashion that has never before been beheld by the gaming community: Killer 7. This game is widely described as a love or hate experience, and there coudn't be a better way to put it; some may absolutely love the artistic and innovative genius, while others may scoff at the extreme constraints the game places upon you at times.
Killer 7 is the obscure lovechild of mastermind Shinji Mikami and Capcom, who have recently gave birth a game you may have heard of: Resident Evil 4. The game centers around a man named Harman Smith, a quadrapalegic who has seven different personalities at his disposal at all times. Harman has been enployed by the government to stop Kun Lan, whose name is always connected to the recent plauge of the Heaven Smiles: zombified humans that were transformed by placing a cancerous tumor inside of their bodies, thus giving them the Heaven Smile disease. The Heaven Smiles are used as kamikaze fighters for whoever needs them, since the Smiles will explode upon contact with anything around them.
Killer 7 includes many features that will either draw in certain players, while shunning others. The graphical presentation of the game is beyond anything ever seen before, the use of cel-shaded graphics makes the game almost appear animated to the passerby, but the amount of small details the game has keeps you from being able to zone out in the environments. The game uses solid colors to define a majority of its objects: some walls will not have a definite end point and continue on until another color intersects with it to create a point, thus making a crease to define that edge. Characters are all given a striking appearance, though they lack small details that would make up a regular character design, the inguenuity of the cel-shading and solid colors makes them unmistakable from other characters. Also, one cannot help but think of the likes of Sin City as the inspiration for the way the cel-shading, as shadows are solid colors, and not semi-transparent like other games to make is seem realistic. I think that pictures speak the best when trying to describe the obscure styling of Killer 7.
Levels are nicely designed and are very original and fresh. Some of the games levels consist of a desert town in Texas, or a comic-book artists home; the game makes it very hard to forget its past levels because of the stark contrast from level to level. The problem with these massive environments is that there is a long load time for almost every area you visit. You can expect a good 4-5 second wait every time you move from a large area to another, and a 3 second wait from a move from one small room to another. These load times only occur when you come across a door or cut scene, but their intrusion will wear on the patience of gamers with a small attention span.
The most definitive portion of Killer 7 that draws the line between those that love and hate the game is its gameplay. The way you navigate through levels is by just holding down the A button to make your character run on a predetermined path, and when you approach an intersection, the screen will darken and you will have you will have to tilt your joystick in the direction of which path you would like to take. The B button is used to turn a character aroun 180 degrees, and holding the R button will place you in first-person mode, toggling L will scan the area to make previously transparent Heaven Smiles become visible. This system is simple and innovative, and will either make players glad the game is placing emphasis on getting to the next event, or frustrated that you cannot explore the entire level, nor can you apply any tactics on approaching enemies, i.e. hiding behind walls. Generally, you will enter an area, hear the laugh of a Heaven Smile, raise your gun and scan the area, assess which character will be needed for the given situation, switch if needed, and take care of business. If you are a fan of running around freely and being able to take as much time as you need to assess your situation, Killer 7 is definately not the game for you. Personally, I welcomed this gameplay scheme, and I liked how the game was basically telling me that I needed to be at this certain point in a given area, instead of making me go on a wild goose chase for a specific item.
This combat system is kept fresh and new by the constant variation of Heaven Smiles you will be facing, and most of them will require some brain power to figure out how to kill it. The Smiles all carry one spot on their bodies that will kill them instantly if you hit it. The plain walking Smiles you see in every level are easily taken down since they lack any type of defense, but some can only be killed by making them expose their weak spot unwillingly, this will require you to do alot of experimentation in the small amount of you are usually given to kill a Smile. For example, one type of Smile has a weak spot on its back, and carries large chains around its arms; the way to defeat this foe is to shoot the chains to spin him around so you can nail his weak spot. Being able to switch characters on the fly makes it a bit easier to take care of certain situations, as the Killer 7 all have different weapons to utilize. One fault that the game camera has is that all camera angles are stricly cinematic, and while the game does a good job of giving you a tactical viewpoint of your opponents, it is quite simple to be blindsided by a Smile that is around a corner that the camera hasn't switched to yet.
The reason this review has a content warning is for the following reason: Killer 7 has more violent content than current AO offender GTA: San Andreas. During the game, there are partial sex-scenes, abuse and murder of elderly people, point-blank assasinations and suicide scenes, tips given from a child who had his eyes ripped out, organ harvesting of small children, and a good amount of decapitated heads rolling around. For example: You will be frequented by a talking head of a decapitated young girl who describes her brutal and sadistic treatment of people before she was ultimately executed herself; although she helps you by reliquishing items, the images painted by the words she speaks is enough for the squeamish to look away while reading the dialogue. The game is in no way intended to be played by any person under the age of 17, not only because of its intelligent storyline, but because the violence is graphic enough to give younger children nightmares. Although I am not a parent, and have a pretty liberal stance of game ratings, I would in no way allow someone under the age of 17 watch or play this game while I am in their company; please bear this in mind to all parents who may be reading this article.
Now that we have that out of the way, lets touch on the mature subject matter that the game is literally bursting at the seams of this game. The main theme in this game is about terrorism being used as a tool to control Americas political ring; this subject being thrown around may offend some who are sensitive to politcal matters after 9/11; as a note, this game was created with the intention to stir some Americans when they played it.
The games story is told by both the living and the dead, the Killer7 interact with the dead a majority of the time, and their voices will literally become a make-or-break point for some gamers. The undead speak in a haunting, distorted whisper; even though it sounds like jibberish in the beginning, you will begin to realize that the dialogue is being spoken in English, even though the sentences being spoken are a similar paralled statement of what is actually appearing in the subtitles. As for the clear, English voice acting, it is done well for the most part; each and every character is given a distinct and haunting voice, and most of them shine in specific situations. Something that will undoubtedly bother some players would be the incessant repeated one-liner each character says after landing a one-hit kill. To me, hearing Coyote's "You're F***ed", or Con's "F*** You!" was slightly refreshing and made a kill more satisfying, but to some, it may be too much to hear repeatedly.
The players will find themselves in various political situations throught the game, all leading up to one giant American political conspiracy circle that might tickle the fancy of some fans of the original Metal Gear Solid. The main problem the game has with telling the story is that it is comprised with roughly 50-60% of dialogue you will not understand, and cut scenes that will make little to no sense even when the game is completed. This portion is another love or hate section of the game, some may like that Killer 7's story is largely a interpretational and abstract composition, some will hate the fact that some sort of physical immersion in being able to relate and understand the plotline is ultimately lost in the process.
In essence, pure and simple, Killer 7 is a the pinnacle of love or hate gaming. If you are willing to leave your beliefs and convictions at the doorstep and step into its politically and morally charged exravaganza that you will not soon forget, then step on in. But if you are a gamer that enjoys games that have sense of reality in them, stay far, far away.
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Published on: 2005-08-14 (11730 reads)[ Go Back ]