killer7

Gamestyle Archive intro: a hugely distinctive game that soon moved onto other formats; killer7 was pretty unique and another brave release from Capcom on the system. This review also is the second last full review on the Gamecube excel spreadsheet. We have another version to search through but apart from my own GC reviews this could be it.

Writer: JJ

Published: July 2005

killer7

If Gamestyle were handing out the Most Stylish Game Award of 2005, killer7 would (natch) eviscerate the competition. From the control system to the loading screens, everything plays a unique and distinctive role; killer7 also marks the end of an era – being the last of Capcom’s highly-touted releases for Gamecube. Needless to say, the production cycle ends with a bang. Spanning two discs, the initial experience threatens to come off its meticulous rails by being a little too different. Variety is welcome in all its forms, but when a game is this avant-garde, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s simply a ‘fashion’ statement.

The story certainly takes no prisoners as you become a master assassin who has somehow managed to acquire seven alter-egos. Unfortunately, for the rest of humanity, each of these egos has specialised skills and murderous abilities (eg, stealth killer, sniper, powerhouse attacker and so forth). Each personality can be called upon to overcome bizarre obstacles – and in this freakish game world, switching between them comes naturally. At first, everything is tranquil but the peace is shattered when an old foe unleashes the Heaven Smile – a doomsday cult who have no qualms about blowing themselves up in your vicinity. These cumbersome opponents slither towards you in kamikaze fashion (only becoming troublesome at close range), whilst bosses and other creatures continually up the ante. However, boss encounters are sometimes too vague – with no helpful pointers or clues to speak of – but killing them does yield rewards, as the spilt tidal wave of blood can be used to upgrade the abilities of your killer7.

Normally, Gamestyle is quite comfortable with on-the-rails shooters such as Time Crisis and The House of the Dead, despite a stringent control system which only affords character movement in two directions – forward and reverse. However, in terms of adapting to this game, killer7’s main conceit is gunplay and little else: there is no alternative control scheme nor let-up during the opening stages of the game, so you must hit the ground running. This truly is a baptism of fire, as you attempt to break free of every other control system you’ve experienced. For many, the story and strong visual motif will prove attractive, but perhaps not enough to justify getting one’s head around the unwieldy control and repetitive opening stages.

Gamestyle would urge players to stick with it, because killer7 becomes a compulsive experience – not least because of its astonishing cut sequences (which surely must rate as some of the best ever to be bundled within a game). Since Gamecube was the format of choice for development (well, before Sony got in on the act), you’d expect killer7 to be a tour de force – indeed, loading times are minimal and the framerate remains rock-solid. Capcom’s mastery of the ‘cube is bettered only by Nintendo themselves: in fact, it’s hard to describe just how well-integrated the cel-shading, character design and voice acting truly is, yet this outstanding environment is hard to appreciate when you’re hamstrung by mental controls. If only, Gamestyle muses… if only you could freely explore, rather than follow the branching path.

Every now and then a title comes along that truly divides gamers, and killer7< is certainly one of these. By being different and daring and altogether difficult, it has alienated many. But by sticking to their (un-)fashionable guns, their purist vision and actually getting the game out there (with a Mature rating, no less), Capcom have created something of worth – and something worth remembering for years to come

Gamestyle Score: 7/10

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