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The Killer 7 are a group of international super assassins led by a man named Harman in a world without use of nuclear arms and a generation unknowing of terrorism. Or so your character thinks. In fact after playing this game and I’m still not entirely sure what was real and what wasn’t. Where do I begin?

Lets start by introducing the team.

Harman Smith – The leader of the killer 7. An old man in a wheelchair with a big gun. He posses the power of a “God-Killer” and once it is awoken he is unstoppable.

The killer 7:

1. Garcian Smith – Known as the “Cleaner”. Harman’s no. 2. A professional who is the only one to actually talk to Harman. He is the middleman. He gets the contracts. He also posses the ability to bring other members of the killer seven back to life.

2. Dan Smith – Your typical jerk detective persona. He has a revolver and as far as I can tell he is the most balanced character. Not too slow, average power and an ok amount of life. His special attack is a powerful ‘demon shell’ from his revolver.

3. Kaede Smith – The only female member of the killer 7. She has a zooming automatic and has a special power over blood.

4. Con Smith – The blind kid. He has a set of dual glocks and is very, very fast. He is by far my favorite character simply because he is so deadly.

5. Coyote Smith – A raging kleptomaniac with a Dirty Harry complex. He has a revolver similar to Dan with more power, and has a supernatural jumping ability.

6. Kevin Smith – A quiet guy, and knife fetishist. He’s quick for a big guy and posses the ability to make himself invisible by taking off his sunglasses.

7. Mask de Smith – A former professional wrestler. He has an Oddly sunny disposition for a killer. He can take a lot of damage and wields a set of dual grenade launchers. He’s your one stop shopping for breaking geometry.

All the characters have differing personalities. Most of them don’t seem to get along at all and one never even speaks. In this assignment they are after the Heavenly Smile terrorist group leader: Kun Lan. Known as the root of all evil. A touch from his hand can turn a normal human into an insane nearly invisible walking explosive among other things.

This very exciting, but equally weird, game is available for PS2 and GC from Capcom. This game is litterally dripping with atmosphere. Most of the game is designed to weird you out and draw you into the game world. So expect the strange and gruesome.

We’re in a tight spot

My first suggestion for this game is to study the manual. The game has a steep learning curve and the in game help is less than perfect.

The in game ‘helper’ is named Iwazaru. He, as far as I can tell, is what’s left of the characters conscience. Dressed up in some sort of red bondage outfit this character gives cryptic information always starting with some repeated pessimist statement and finishing with and a salute to Harman. He also doesn’t speak English, or any other language as far as I can tell. Just some freaky tones. Though everything he says needs a bit of translating anyway so who needs to speak English?

The game play itself is a little unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The game is on rails. You can go forward and you can go back. In that way it is a lot like a 2d side scroller, the only difference in this game being that it is 3D and whenever the ‘road’ forks or there is something interesting to look at a selector pops up and you push the right stick in the direction and hit X. This form of navigation is actually quite fluid after you get used to it and makes common mistakes in 3d games like getting stuck on a wall and getting killed a non-event.

The enemy AI is well, quite simple. They have a few enemy types that do different things but for the most part they all come towards the player and explode/attack. Some bosses/mini bosses use bullets/powers, but they are mostly easily avoided or are a little weak and hit you a lot.

Spilling blood

You can only attack in first person view. They help you out a bit by having a short range selector that puts your crosshair over a close enemy’s center body mass. You have to scan most enemies before you can even hit them. But the plus side is that after scanning them it reveals glowing weak points where if you hit them you get a critical attack. Aiming for critical points multiply your uh… experience.

Experience in this game is handled by blood. The more blood you spill the more ‘experience’ you get. So shooting the head and arms off nets more than shooting a smile in the chest. Criticals with powerful weapons netting the most multiplied blood. This gives the game a few cool little RPG elements. Though I was disappointed that bosses generally don’t give any blood.

Blood is redeemable at the characters ‘special place’ referred to as Harman’s room. They are anything from closets to office rooms but they are a safe place in the mind of a killer. Sort of like a pocket of existence where you can save and interact with your other personalities. You interact with other personalities via a warped looking television set. This TV also lets you use ‘the doctor’ to change your ‘thick blood’ into usable upgrade ampoules.

Some of the characters have different stats, but for the most part there is power (damage), speed, waver (aiming and shot accuracy), and critical (makes it easier to critical a smile). The character specific upgrades are range and invisibility for their respective characters.

Graphics

This game has atmosphere. The ‘cell shading’ effect used in this game has been around in CG for a very long time. Classics like Alone in the Dark and Interstate 76 had similar shading styles. Though in killer 7 it is real time and combined with gaudy contrasting colours. Frankly I think the effect is ugly and should never be used and the constant horribly long load times on the PS2 which may be related to it are unnecessary. Not as long as games like RE outbreak, but still unnecessarily long for the size and detail of the areas.

There are more effects and higher texture resolutions on the Gamecube version of this game. I imagine they were taken out or made a lower rez for the PS2 version due to hardware limitations.

I will also mention most cut scenes in the game could have been done real-time. It sort of brings you out of the world a bit when a character always has the same background in a cut scene no matter what area you’re in.

Blood drips and sprays. Things explode and crumble. Some of the characters change outfits from mission to mission. Every texture is quite attractive where you do see them. I have no doubt they had some talented artists working on this game. There are a lot of little details that show the thought put into the game, its just too bad they took such a minimalist approach on the overall look.

Sound

Sound wise it’s similar to Parasite Eve. A lot of the music is quite similar. The voice actors did a great job as well, they make the characters all ooze with personality. Those characters that don’t have voices work well too. I also like how they have a bit of ‘pump you up’ music before a mini boss fight.

Gameplay

As far as puzzles there are a few on every mission. They range from having the right item to being able to run down the hall and get a clue. There is also a nice guy that gives clues, if you want the answer pointed out to you he puts on a mask and turns into a jerk, but tells you what you need to know all at the cost of a little blood. Often when you get stuck you simply missed the item the want you to have if you cant progress any further. Luckily there is also a spirit of a dead child usually drops some cryptic hints on killing bosses.

Replay value is very low, as all they have is a harder mode to try. There are no multiplayer modes.

Conclusion

In truth the ‘Smiths’ are actually one man. Or so the plot suggests. Though the game does a very good job of making you second-guess that. I can’t even begin to even guess which one is the ‘real’ Smith as far as outside characters are concerned.

The game is simple but fun and a multi-layered story that leaves you second-guessing. It has great characters that I formed an emotional attachment to. It has great music and an unfortunate art style. I’m sure some may like the look, but I am unimpressed. Some parts of the game look spectacular in the style such as outdoor rural areas, but being most of the game is set mostly in an urban setting it just doesn’t work for me.

I highly recommend the game as a rental. Though with little replay value you might be better not to purchase this one. The puzzles can get annoying and some of the enemies, which I still am not sure how to kill safely with all characters, are a bit of a bother.

I also suggest getting the Gamecube version, as it is a little more visually impressive due to the PS2's aging hardware limitations.

 

Game play 19/20
Graphics 12/20 PS2
17/20 Gamecube
Sound 20/20
Replay Value 5/20
Originality 20/20
Overall 76/100 PS2
81/100 Gamecube


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