kind of like fear effect, mixed with kill bill, mixed with ???

User Rating: 9 | Killer7 GC

Killer7 comes from the minds behind popular hits such as resident evil, devil may cry, and no more heroes.
It was developed by grasshopper manufacture and published by capcom in 2005, for the gamecube. it was later ported to the PS2.
this review describes the GC version, which I think is slightly better (it loads faster).

Killer7 is unique, and different, in the sense that it has its own identity that can be picked apart but is impossible to define as strictly one genre. Part FPS, part rail shooter, part RPG, part action game, part animation, it's a schizophrenic cocktail of game design.

The story begins as you enter and control the perspective of a contracted killer; an assassin named garcian. You're tipped off that 'your enemy' is located in a high rise building nearby.

As you enter the building you realize how streamlined the controls are. Grasshopper appeared to build the game around the GC controller and took into consideration the simple, arcade 'style' of many of nintendo's games in that generation.
Your paths of movement are all pre-determined, and the camera is statically positioned in each area. The gratuitously big 'A' button on the GC's pad is used to move along the pre-determined paths. Movement feels smooth and uncomplicated.

When you come to doors, or corridor junctions, you can't just progress through in a seamless fashion. Rooms are cut up and separated from each other. This follows from the original resident evil, where a cut-scene of a door opening would play while the next room loaded. In resident evil it was a device to create tension, "what's around the next corner...?" there appears to be a similar thing going on with killer7.
When you come to a door or junction, the choices manifest visually, the screen shattering, as if it was shot by a pistol.

After the first couple of rooms, the confusion that is killer7 begins, and it's really all down to interpretation from here.
First, your character garcian falls under the watch of a nearby security camera, the screen then warps and he turns into another person(a); dan smith.
You're introduced to dan, but you never know how garcian was able to change into him, or who either of them really are.

As the title of the game suggests, the number 7 is important. There are a further 6 personalities that either one of the personalities can tune into at (mostly) any point in the game. The analogy of a TV is constantly used throughout the game due to you having to use a TV to switch between the other personas. It's fair to say that killer7 is abstract, but it ties in wonderfully to the abstract nature of video games.

We often think of 'abstract' as a period in the history of art, but the rules of games are equally abstract and devoid of any specific, external meaning.
When a game design clashes with its graphical representations and story, you can often spot the game elements working 'behind' the surface you're presented with, and with more photo-realistic games, it can be funny to spot how unreal the game makes supposed 'reality' feel. In this sense Killer7's abstract story and violently colorful punk aesthetic is very compatible to the abstract game design, often complementing it.

Each of the personas has their own specific characteristics. At first you think they're somehow 'alive' and that transitioning between them is the physical manifestation of schizophrenia. This is open to interpretation, but all of them appear to be dead or at least 'living dead'. Kaede, the girl assassin, is slightly bent, pale and has a distinctive blood splatter on her dress. Con, the smallest assassin has a blindfold and so you can't see his eyes (it's suggested that he's blind), and the rest are similarly dark, silent, cynical or plain offensive.

Mechanically, you can think of these 7 gaunt puppets as different types of mobile keys for accessing the world you're presented with. Together, they're the complete solution, but since you have to constantly switch between them, you'll have to figure out when and where each one can strut their stuff.
While you can switch personas, they aren't always optional. Each has a specific ability that you'll need to use now and again.

The enemies that you're up against are called 'heaven smile'. They appear to be genetically modified and hideously disfigured people that are bred to blow you up. You're constantly reminded of suicide bombers as these creatures are intent on blowing themselves up to destroy you. They all come in different shapes and sizes throughout the story, often matching up to one of your persona's strengths, giving you reason to switch out.
To destroy them, you stop moving and switch to first-person mode with 'R'; this brings up your gun and aiming reticule.

shooting plays a big part in the experience, and it feels great. each persona has their own weapon, ranging from a magnum to throwing knives, to grenade launchers. the weapons often complement the type of characters, becoming extentions of their personalities.
encounters with the heaven smile are unpredictable and often creepy. the game constantly throws various new types of smiles, so it takes a quick-thinking player to swap the best persona out.
shooting them is thrilling; it's violent and fresh, and feels as if you're pounding rubber as the screen shudders back and forth, each distinctive gun sound causing the smiles to giggle and snicker before they finally explode into ribbons of blood, emitting a final coarse shreik that penetrates the air.

it becomes quite unnerving that despite your best efforts, the smiles continue in a relentless fashion, leaving little time for relaxing. it can sometimes feel like work, but once you get your head around the puzzle-like enemies, it's very satisfying.
combat is varied a little through 'collecting the blood' of these smiles, and using it upgrade characters special attacks and stats. enemies are also varied through the game, but not enough.

In addition to combat, each area holds a number of puzzles and locks. These locks and puzzles at first appear odd and difficult to figure out, but once you get used to the game's logic, solving puzzles is a very simple affair. Kaede for example, has an ability (press 'Y') to slit her wrists, allowing blood to gush out and make barriers disappear.
Coyote has a similar ability where he can jump onto high buildings and roofs, also with 'Y'. These pursuits either gain you an 'odd engraving' (a kind of key) or a 'soul shell', or else another kind of key, specific to the theme and sub-story of the area you're in.
Soul shells are the most valuable of the keys, as they let you gain access to the boss of the area.

Bosses are what the game is all about. These events (and the events following) often tell you more about what is going on in the story through in-game (video) cut-scenes and sometimes anime, and other more bizarre styles of animation. These events really are the motivation to keep moving on.
Bosses are some of the most inventive that I've faced. Each one is unique, and while often not difficult in the sense that they take a lot of damage, getting your head around what is happening and what to do is where the challenge lies.
Encounters with heaven smile are more like puzzles, than shooting something in say, 'doom'. The challenge is of the mind and reflexes. You need to be attentive when playing this game.

the sound design is excellent, and probably the best on the gamecube, right next to metroid prime and f-zero. you visit lots of different locations, such as an eerily quiet, but somewhat relaxing stay at a japanese restaurant and a sun-kissed mediterranean town, and the music fits perfectly to each area. for example, in the japanese restaurant, all you can here are very light koto string instrument sounds, and the pitter patter of rain outside. the way the music and sound integrates with the sleek, cel-shaded visuals is really part of the enjoyment.

The pacing is tight, but the balance of the game is off. Play often becomes monotonous as you're doing the same things over and over in each area, and the simplicity of the design and ease of the puzzles gives little in the way of extreme mental challenge. The challenge in killer7 is maneuvering through the world, taking in the dazzling and violent day-glow colours, and getting your head around the characters and story you're presented with.

In conclusion, I can't tell you what happens in the story without spoiling something. This game is all about the surprises, and so they're best saved. Why are you an assassin? Why are you up against suicide bomber aliens? Why do you have schizophrenia? do you have schizophrenia? These questions might never be completely answered, but by playing to the end, your brain will have both a pleasurable and uncomfortable ride through the most thought-provoking and insane plot in video game history.