Wierd and wonderful, Killer 7 is a breath of fresh air in the world of Video gaming.
It's also worth pointing out Killer 7 is by far the most mature title on the Cube, and perhaps one of the most mature games this gen. It doesn't hold back on the gore, with limbs being shot right off their bodies and people being blown into bloody chunks by the games explosive enemies. There is plenty of strong language from many of the killer 7, and the storyline features some incredibly mature twists and turns throughout its lengthy campaign.
The storyline in Killer 7 is one of its strongest points, but it's complicated, full of deep meaning and sometimes takes a dive into the downright peculiar. The game is centred around a crippled assassin named Harman Smith, or more specifically the 7 different personalities’ that reside within his head. These personas make up the game titular Killer 7, who have been contracted to help take out a terrorist organisation by the name of 'Heaven Smile' a deadly group of monstrous suicide bombers determined to take down the USA. Prevalent in the background is a conflict between America and Japan, and there are many other subplots to make your head spin. Whether you understand the games story or not, you'll be intrigued by what’s happening and compelled to play on, even if only in the vague hope of getting your head round what’s going on.
Another strong point in Killer 7 is it's unique art style. The game employs an incredibly stylised cell shaded art design, which looks absolutely stunning and in one way compliments the strange plotline well but also provides a good contrast from the dark and gritty storyline. Some areas look absolutely stunning (I particularly like the outdoor areas in mission 2), and you'll never be short of a place to marvel at in this game.
Also good, but perhaps not as great is the sound. The music in Killer 7 is worth mentioning due to the fact that every track feels utterly perfect in the level. The sound effects too are excellent from the gunshots to footfall to the evil laughter of the Heaven smiles, which are extremely fun to shoot (especially after a few shots when a headless one legged one armed Smile is crawling along the floor at you). The Voice acting is great, but nothing revolutionary. However, the Killer 7 are armed only with a single catchphrase during levels and hearing the same smart comment over and over again can really start to get annoying. Also the ghosts of Killer 7 talk in a freaky gibberish with only occasional words being understandable, though this is obviously translated for you as text. While sometimes sounding creepy, the mumbo jumbo spoken can sometimes just start to get on your nerves
One of things in Killer 7 that has divided many opinions is the games control scheme. The characters move along preset paths, with the player simply holding down the A button and watching as their chosen Smith runs along. There are occasionally branching pathways, but overall the level design is fairly linear. This set-up can also feel a bit nasty during the games boss fights, which though clever aren’t particularly fun. However these unique controls allow for some great camera angles and makes moving through the levels easy and intuitive. This is definently going to put some players off, since it’s so radically different to most game designs.
All games require a good level design, and Killer 7 excells in this area. It's levels usually space the various gameplay very well, and each is visually interesting and fun to play through. Obviously it isn't perfect (part of level 1 requires you to run through the same areas around 3 times) but overall is superbly done
The shooting in Killer 7 is also good. This is odd since the enemies posses no AI at all and simply head straight for you with no regard for their own well being. There is however something addictive about Killer 7’s ‘shoot the weak spot’ gun action and though at times it can feel a little limiting it’s incredibly fun to send the Smile’s limbs shooting of or scoring a critical hit and seeing them burst into a shower of blood. There is some good variation in the enemy design, but all the time the aim for the weak spot is used for all the Smile creatures meaning that occasionally the shooting can get dull and repetitive. Also evident is the fact that it’s very hard to actually lose. When a persona dies you can switch to Garcian, the ‘Cleaner’, who must then run through the level again to retrieve the dead personas head (conveniently wrapped in a bloody paper bag). But what starts as a novel concept quickly becomes an unwanted trek through areas you’ve already visited fighting Smiles who have respawned despite meeting a bloody end previously in the level.
Thankfully the fighting sections are occasionally broken up by puzzle sections. Though these aren’t really anything to shout about, they provide a pleasant change in pace throughout the levels. They border 50/50 on being clever, and being mind numbingly random or easy. Without giving too much away, an early puzzle tasks you with lighting five candles in a certain order. But play this on normal difficulty, and you will find that there are big numbers on the candles telling you the correct order. So much for brain power there! The puzzles do there job, which was simply to break up the games core shooting action. Overall the gameplay feels great, though sometimes it can start to get somewhat boring.
What's great about the characters in Killer 7 is that they are all incredibly likable in their own unique way. The Killer 7 are all amazingly likable characters for murderers and each has their own style and all have been designed well. Some pack heavy weapons but fire and reload slow, some pack lighter more accurate pistols, and a certain member doesn't use guns at all and instead comes with a unending supply of knives. The Killer 7 also have their own unique powers that fit well with their design. Everyone who plays the game will instantly find a favourite Smith (in my case Dan), to use in fights.
So is Killer 7 worth a purchase. It honestly depends on the player. Some will find the game boring, linear and simply weird. However I found it to be incredibly fresh and fun, and enjoyed it’s crazy yet surprisingly complex and deep plot and unique art design. Though this isn’t a flawless game by any standards, the problems are small and don’t stop Killer 7 from being an excellent title for older gamers looking for something different. If you’re intrigued by the games style and premise, get it now, but if you’re not sure it might be worth renting first due to the fact it’s so different to just about anything else on the market. I greatly enjoyed it and congratulate Capcom on yet another great and gory adventure.