Killer 7
By: Tristan Jones on October 26, 2005  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Platform: Nintendo Gamecube
Also available on: PlayStation 2
Publisher: Capcom
Players: 1
Year: 2005
OFLC Rating: MA15+
Killer 7 is quite possibly the most bizarre game I've come across in a long time. There was a lot of hype surrounding this one about being a little bit different before it hit the shelves so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. What followed was a gigantic bag of mixed feelings.

Killer 7's story is fairly in depth. Actually really in depth. You play as any one of 8 characters. Harman Smith, a sinister wheelchair bound character who isn't all he seems, Garcian Smith, the burly go-between for the clients of Killer 7, Dan Smith; a cocky, magnum wielding gunslinger, Kaede Smith; a slight young woman who's suicidal tendencies come very handy, Kevin Smith; a silent, knife-thrower with the ability to turn invisible, Coyote Smith; a wild-handed thief with incredible acrobatic skills, Con Smith; a super fast kid, and Mask Smith; a masked wrestler toting two grenade launchers. It's a bizarre mix of characters, made slightly more bizarre by the fact that they aren't really characters – they're personalities. I won't say anymore about them, because there is a very surprising ending that involves the personalities and their true identities.

As Killer 7, you are sent on assignments that find you entangled in a war between the US and Japan that has you playing inadvertently on both sides. Surrounding each mission is a variety of in-game and anime cut scenes that go further into the details of the story, but the conspiracies involved are far too in depth for me to really explain properly in this review. It really is kinda mind blowing, but also very confusing, so make sure you don't skip any of the cut scenes or conversations.

As a game, Killer 7 is a very different playing experience. It's a strange child of arcade shooting, first person shooting, puzzle gaming and third person action. It takes heavy elements from each of these and manages to mash them all together, creating a new style of playing mechanics that I've yet to come across in any other title. The whole game is set on a track. By that, I mean you have no control over how much exploration you can do. It's like the House of the Dead and Virtua Cop games where the story runs along and all you really do is shoot. It's a little more in depth than that, but that just gives you an idea. In my mind, this is both good and bad. First person shooters are all about exploration (maybe not, maybe it's all about killing shit, but exploration comes close), and Killer 7 really only offers you the ability to look around from your position on the track. You can go back and forth along the track, and you can choose which rooms you want to go into and the like, but they're all still part of the track. You move along simply by holding a button (A in the case of the Gamecube) and can reverse direction by hitting another (B on GC). The camera trails along just behind you until you hit the first person, or target button (Right shoulder). When in this mode, press the move button while holding the target button and you'll shoot. You also aim with the control stick, but it's important to note that you can't see your enemies at first. You'll hear them laugh, so you have to immediately enter first person mode and hit the 'scan' button (Left shoulder) to see them. It's a little confusing at first, but after a few minutes into it is fairly intuitive.

Each puzzle is played out differently too, some use a cursor, others require button tapping, others are fetch-and-place jobs. The puzzles vary as much in difficulty and logic as much as they do in controls. Some puzzles are rather baffling in terms of logic compared to others, which may leave some less patient gamers furious because they can't get back and shoot stuff good. That said, we arrive at what some may find to be the biggest problem with Killer 7. It requires a large amount of patience.

There is a large amount of dialogue in this game and some of it holds clues to particular puzzles throughout the game. Information is given to you by the ghosts of your previous victims, the most common being a gimp suspended by a rope, wearing bright red latex, and a man called Travis. You come across these characters a lot, along with a few others, and they usually have something important to tell you. The problem is, and it's the same with pretty much everyone in the game, that they talk so much bullshit around the edges of what's important that I found myself wishing to God they'd just tell me what I wanted to hear, instead of wasting time with their needless banter. Some gamers may be inclined to skip these sequences, as you are given the option to, but in doing so, you've no doubt robbed yourself of important information. It's the same with some of the movie sequences too; they become repetitive to the point of annoyance.

The second problem I had with Killer 7 was along the same lines. It does get very repetitious. Most games do, but this becomes obviously repetitious, and the fact that you're restricted in terms of what you can and can't do may be the biggest contributor to this fact. You run, you shoot, you solve a puzzle and switch personalities to do something only they can do, then switch back. Some might not mind, but come the second disc, it all becomes a bit monotonous.

In spite of these two things, Killer 7 is an extremely stylish production. The visual aesthetics are like none other, and the use of colours and cell-shading techniques, especially in the surroundings, are absolutely superb. It's carried through in everything, and the boss fights are some of the most bizarre gaming experiences I've come across in a long time. How many bosses have you fought where their afro has taken control of their body and must be destroyed? Or where two Yakuza gentlemen have blown their brains out and hurtle chunks of the grey matter at you? There's also a really nice battle where you don't even fight, it's a face-off where you must wait for a pigeon to fly, and then simply press the shoot button.

It's all these little moments that break the repetition that kept me going in this one. When they come along, they really are ingenious moments and completely unexpected. The game contains other little surprises along the way, especially in terms of content. You'll walk into your wheel-chair bound boss's room to find him being beaten or having sex with the young aide. You'll come across missions involving child abduction, abuse and slavery, cult brainwashing, Japanese criminal syndicates. Moments and themes running through the game also help carry it and you'll find yourself suddenly sitting back going "Holy Shit!" because you can't believe you just saw what you did in a video game. Especially the violence!

It's really tough working out what to give this one. All in all Killer 7 is a mixed bag. The pros far outweigh the cons, but the cons are really bad traps to fall into for a game nowadays, especially one of this sort. If you're patient, you'll find there's a lot in Killer 7 to wrap your brain around as well as your itching trigger finger. This is one that you may want to rent for a couple of nights before you decide whether or not you want to own it though.

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