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Action / Adventure









M (Mature)



June 2005



- Adds evidence that videogames can be works of art

- Kind of neat to look at



- Art is in the eye of the beholder

- Straightforward shooting and puzzles that make little sense

- Control scheme feels limiting

- Crazy side characters that speak in riddles



Review: Resident Evil 4 (GC)

Review: Viewtiful Joe (GC)

Review: Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (GC)



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Score: 4.5 / 10

Killer 7 is either a masterfully executed work of gaming with plenty of subtext and full of deep themes or an archaic piece of crap.  The unfortunate/fortunate thing is that you’ll have to actually play it before really coming up with that opinion.  Even then it might not help because I’ve played through it – twice! – and I’m still not sure which side of the fence I’m on: Good?  Bad?  Is there a third option?  “Average” wouldn’t really apply because the term implies comparison to like games, but I’ve been scratching my head trying to figure out what games would be comparable.


killer7 review          killer7 review


Killer 7 is undeniably a stylish action/adventure.  The cel-shaded look – a Capcom specialty – hangs well on the game, because if it were presented realistically… it would be grounds for a bad case of the heebie-jeebies.


You take the role of a hitman, Harman Smith, who may or may not control seven unique killers through some kind of astral projection: Garcian “The Cleaner” Smith, Dan Smith, Kaede Smith, Con Smith, Kevin Smith, Coyote Smith and Mask de Smith.  The overall goal is to defeat a terrorist group known as Heaven Smile.  And by being able to switch personalities on the fly – as they become available – Harman is never without the ability to really overcome any obstacle thrown his way.  Need a lock taken care of?  Switch to the nimble-fingered Coyote Smith who is the only one able to pick locks.  Recon and stealth?  Kevin Smith is your go-to guy – after all he can turn invisible.  The characters are all unique and it’s only in their careful use – particularly Garcian who is the only one able to resurrect characters killed in the line of duty – that success can be met.  Then there are the non-player 




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characters encountered along the way that make an already muddy game – on a “this makes sense” level – even muddier.  Take for instance the insufferable and bondage-wearing Iwazaru who shows up all too regularly to “give clues” and “prod you in the right direction.”  Well, unfortunately, he’s so completely annoying to listen to and the prodding so ambiguous that every time he shows up I audibly groaned.  If you’re a big fan of art house films this might be classified as “cool” but here it comes off as annoying.



Actually, if you approach Killer7 with the art house theme in mind, you’ll probably have a lot more fun and forgive the “quaint” controls.


Learning the controls isn’t that difficult, but it does take some getting used to.  The directional stick is not used to make your character move.  Instead you press and hold the A-button to set your character running down a pre-determined path, with the occasional hotspot to interact with or pathway to chose.   The left stick comes into play when gunning down the Heaven Smile agents while in first-person mode.  It’s a strange combination but Capcom uses it to provide some interesting perspectives (though it flies in the face of their push to more open-ended exploration with the likes of Resident Evil 4).  A problem is that when in first-person mode you can’t move.  Running away from quickly approaching Heaven Smiles means switching out of first-person, turning around (pressing the B-button), then pressing A-button to gain some distance, then turning around again and entering first-person mode.  It’s cumbersome to say the least, but it does force you to aim carefully.


killer 7 review          killer 7 review


Character attributes and weapons, such as attack speed, one-shot kills, and attack damage can be leveled-up throughout the game by trading in collected Serum (acquired by offing Heaven Smiles).  Even the leveling-up process reeks of artistic measure.


The audio component of Killer7 is just as disjointed and art house as the rest of the game.  That said, it’s still listenable and the cackling of the Heaven Smile “demons” can produce shivers down the spine.  I would have liked full-on voice acting instead of the “Charlie Brown’s teacher” mumbling Capcom delivers.  While I understand the move (particularly when I think Capcom is going for “art”) and it hasn’t hurt other games, like Super Mario Sunshine, a complete roster of voice actors might have worked to Killer7’s advantage.


When it comes to the action, Killer7 sometimes scores big with some really intense gunplay, where even a second of hesitation or mis-fired shot can spell a quick death.  There’s a reasonable amount of adventure elements – solving puzzles, etc. – and the combination here works quite well if you can stand the straightforwardness of it all.


For years, there are those in gaming industry that have attempted to label videogames as art.  Taken in isolation, this argument might hold true for Killer7.  And with that in mind, it’s gamer beware.  Rent it first to see if you “get” it.  Because like all art, it’s subjective – I may not know art, but I know what I like.  And I don’t like this.  For something truly "art wothy" try Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem.


- Omni

(August 3, 2005)

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