Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Killer 7

Developer: Grasshopper
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: July 7, 2005
Systems: GameCube (reviewed), PS2
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: Cel-shaded carnage.

0:01 "This game contains mature subject matter and graphic violence." Now there's an understatement. Someone is shooting at the Capcom and Grasshopper logos. Seems a bit gratuitous, as does the maniacal laughter as I choose "options."

0:02 Difficulty options are "Normal" and "Deadly." Whatever happened to "Easy?" I guess Normal is the new Easy. "Target:00 Angel" is the first chapter.

0:03 A laser pointer target hovers on a black silhouette. I can move the target around. A head shot turns the silhouette into some bloody kanji. Trippy.

0:04 The moon is beating in time to music. Was that the loading screen? Now a white-suited guy (Garcian Smith, as the credits call him) walks down an urban tableau. He has a tense moment passing a guy named Christopher Mills. There's no music, and stark black and white backgrounds with some blue gradients. Very stylish... like a movie intro. I like it.

0:05 Garcian gets a call about his mission. "May the lord smile." "And the devil have mercy." Smooth. My first task is "A free-for-all fight in the multipurpose Celtic building." A lot of this seems to lose something in the translation.

0:06 "Do you wish to learn the controls?" YES! Weird... the control stick doesn't control movement. The A button runs, and B changes direction (there are only two ways to go). Hold R to enter shooting mode. Somehow it works ... the system is very streamlined and promotes smooth, continuous motion. The low to the ground camera is very nice.

0:09 Cut scene time again. I'm on a surveillance camera when I (as Garcian) somehow change into a lanky white guy. "You don't want to go any further... My friends were all murdered" says a passing crazy person. Dan Smith (me): "Shit, there's more than 14. Those bastards are breeding." I'm so confused.

0:10 A gimp-like guy clad head to toe in red leather is my servant, apparently. His name is Iwazaru and he tells me where to find my room. "Let the bloodbath begin... in the name of Harman." What?

0:11 OK, apparently I'm Harman because my room is called "Harman's room." On the TV I can pick out personalities and try them on like clothes. There's Garcian, and Dan Smith, and a woman named Kaede Smith, and a whole bunch of others, some of whom are locked out currently. Weird.

0:13 I come to Iwazaru again. He has a bunch of info. about all sorts of game-related stuff. "About multiple personalities: They're not just normal multiple personalities ...[they're] multiple personalities, but with multiple bodies." So, uh multiple distinct people then?

0:17 Iwazaru's voice is incredibly unsettling, like he's whispering through a voice-changed. It's kind of grating, and the subtitles go by very slowly.

0:19 "The blood in the beaker is pure. Give it to the doctor in the television." In any other game that would be by far the weirdest line. In here it's one of the sanest.

0:20 OK, I could probably sit here reading about esoterica for another 10 minutes, but let's get back to the real game.

0:21 As I run down the hallway, Iwazaru suggests I turn back, because the enemies will "bomb rush" me. And they do. I can barely see the transparent things. Am I missing something?

0:23 I run into Travis, sitting in an open elevator. He speaks in a freaky, breathy whisper. "I'm the killer who got killed on the job ... you think I'm a real pain in the ass don't you... I ain't letting you go nowhere." Oh come on, just get out of the way. Or at least let me shoot you. Freaking ghost.

0:25 Iwazaru: "This guy is a true freak." Yeah, like you're one to talk, you gimp.

0:26 My first real battle, with a freaky looking something called "Camellia Smile." She goes down in three shots... running away all the while. Lots of blood everywhere. Then I run into an invisible wall. What do I do now? Guess I'll backtrack a bit.

0:30 At the halfway mark for the hour and I'm totally at a loss for what to do. Part of me is really intrigued by the presentation, another part of me is really peeved at being thrown in with so little guidance as to what the hell's going on. Give and take, I guess.

0:33 Back to my room to get more info. from Iwazaru, since I can't figure out what else to do. So according to Iwazaru, the Camellia Smile thing I killed might have been a traitor that wanted to defect to my side. NOW he tells me. Maybe this would've been nice to know earlier?

0:34 "Decadent murder makes the blood boil." Does Jack Thompson know about this game? "It's a world of sin. Have you met the sinner." Creeeepy.

0:37 Still stuck. My best clue is that I hear someone laughing when I go in the parking lot, but it's no one I can see.

0:39 In my pause menu, there's a memo that says "pigeon." When I choose it, there's a pigeon against a striped background. Wow. Just when you think this game can't get weirder.

0:44 So apparently I was supposed to use L to scan for enemies at that wall I was stuck at. This reveals a hanging monster that occasionally drops eggs with enemies. Part of me is mad at myself for not realizing this (it was part of the control tutorial, but I thought it was an optional part). Part of me is mad at the game for not telling me explicitly what to do when I got stuck. Have I gotten too coddled by games that lead me by the hand early on?

0:46 Apparently, scanning for enemies makes the transparent things suicide bombers apparent and killable. The game suddenly makes a bit more sense (but just a bit).

0:47 After taking out it's shambling spawn, I shoot the hanging thing in its shiny weakpoint. It explodes in a shower of white light. Whee!

0:49 Travis (now in the parking lot) tells me how the egg-laying Duplicator I just killed "pumped out the countless duplicates that took this country down." He gives me a "soul shell" bullet to take down the queen "gatekeeper." That's all well and good, but where do I go next?

0:51 Despite helping me in the parking garage, Travis is still in the elevator. And he STILL won't move to let me pass. Sigh.

0:52 So now, for no apparent reason, I have the option to go down a part of the hallway that I couldn't before. I've heard of linear game design, but this is a bit much.

0:54 A guy in a hooded sweatshirt gets blown to pieces by one of the transparent suicide bombers in a somewhat gratuitous cut scene.

0:59 After dying a few times to shambling suicide ghosts, I realize I'm way too tired to aim well. I'll come back when I'm less beat and less freaked out.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes
Why? It's incredibly unique and intriguing. I feel I've barely scratched the surface of an impressive, if badly translated, world.

This review based on a retail copy rented from GameFly.

1 comment:

wisekris said...

Hi, I'm just wondering if you got around to playing this game? A friend and I just recently tag teamed on this game to beat it. The story was intriguing enough to overlook some of the hurdles. Did you enjoy it? Also if you interested in more about the story there is a book "Hand in killer7" that gives some back story. In case it confused you, I know we were. Unfortunetly its only available in Japanese but there is a text translation floating out there.