Killer 7 GameCube Review

Killer 7 is just one of those that will confuse just about everybody. In all reality, the only people that can ever truly understand the story that drives this game are the developers themselves! In a possible political and terrorist conspiracy between the United States and Japan, Harman Smith is charged with the prevention of a possible cataclysmic event! Just who is Harman Smith? He is a man that has a severe psychological problem, identity identification disorder, but you actually use it to your advantage! Seven personalities, seven assassins will be available at your disposal to expose this possible dangerous plot!

The world has gone through an elaborate process to finally achieve global peace in the past few years. Whether it’s completely doing away with air travel, eliminating any and all nuclear material or ridding the world of all intercontinental ballistic missiles, it’s been done!

Soon the entire world was connected by a series of intercontinental highways that connected the major land masses spanning the oceans. Even an intercontinental delivery system was created and implemented. But unfortunately, when it came time for the major superpowers to sign a UN World Security Treaty, disaster struck…..

A terrorist group known as the Heaven Smile attacked the meeting and showed terrorism in its true form. The only purpose of this attack was to instill fear in the people, and that’s just what it did. Now desperate to quickly rid the world of this threat, the superpowers call upon the help of the Killer7 to eradicate their presence!

When you first fire up Killer 7, be prepared to be surprised due to the strangeness of the opening! Not only will you hear a very creepy Heaven Smile laugh when you start a new game, but just the way it’s presented lets you know you’re in for a very interesting treat! When it comes time to choose your beginning difficulty, you will hear a very cool techno beat that you just may find yourself bopping your head back and forth to!

Once you get past the starting of the game, you will witness the opening anime style cutscene. It features none other than Garcian Smith, the negotiator of the group, as he passes by a mysterious looking man who hands him some sort of document. Garcian continues to walk along with long briefcase in hand, and when he arrives to a certain building, his phone rings.

He begins a short conversation with the man that he just passed, talking about how it’s his job to clear out the Heaven Smile presence in the very building. Of course there is some mature content when it comes to what is spoken, but that’s to be expected in this game. A cool conversation followed by a very intense action sequence make for a very immersive beginning to Killer 7.

The beauty of Killer 7 is the fact that there is an in-game tutorial that you can choose to go through at the very beginning if you don’t think you can get used to the controls quickly enough. Just before you start the first mission, the guide of Harman Smith and his syndicate will ask you if you wish to go ahead through it. It will teach you the basics of the rail movement, how to scan for enemies with your weapon drawn and how to focus on their weak spots! So if you feel the need to go through the brief tutorial, you should be just fine afterward and be ready to take the name of the Heaven Smile! If you’re experienced with shooting games of the past, it really should take no time at all for you to become familiar with how the game handles. If not, then it might take a half hour or so to get a good handle on the game. But nevertheless, it’s really not difficult, and that’s always a good thing!

Killer 7 joins other GameCube titles such as X-Men Legends, Tales of Symphonia, XIII and Mega Man X: Command Mission when it comes to similar graphical style! Utilizing the ever growing and more popular cel-shaded/anime style engine, Killer 7 is one of the most unique and awesome looking titles available to us GameCube owners! What’s even scarier about the presentation delivered in Killer 7 is at times it can offer an eerie three-dimensional display that will make you think you’re looking at something in real life!

One of the strongest points of the graphics in Killer 7 is how diversified your environments are, and how different all the various characters look! Killer 7 will take you to a number of different locations within the United States, and all of them have something unique to offer! Whether it’s at the start with you navigating a normal looking business building (which is a haven of the Heaven Smile), or at a Japanese restaurant to even a small city owned by ONE person!

Now what is truly unique about each level is that it’s not MEANT to look like something in this world, but it does so in the strangest ways possible. Many of the areas that you will encounter look like they have nothing that distinguish them from other parts of the same area, but you will soon realize that is simply not true. Sure some of the areas can look a little bland because of lack of elaborate color, but it’s really how many anime tv shows are created, and Killer 7 is no different! Capcom really did whatever they could to make it feel like an authentic anime experience, and they really are to be commended for their efforts.

Sure some of your environments and characters may just seem totally wacky and out of place, but it really was just something Capcom wanted to convey. Politics tends to be the same way doesn’t it?

When it comes to the actual characters, they really look superb in every fashion possible. There are seven different personas that you can take on in each level, and each look very different from each other and that’s just great. Dan Smith, Con Smith and Mask de Smith seem to be the youngest members of the group, but they each look great and very unique! Dan looks sort of like a businessman dawning a nice looking suit. Con Smith is the more “casual” of the Smiths wearing a sleeveless t-shirt and shorts. Mask de Smith looks just like how he’s described by others in the game, a professional wrestler! He wears a mask and cape to try representing that role.

The other males in Kevin and Coyote Smith look very cool as well! Kevin is a sort of hunched over man that wears sunglasses and Coyote is the thief of the group, dawning a sort of “exotic” looking outfit. There even happens to be a female member of the group in Kaede Smith who tends to wear a number of different dresses. It’s even creepy to see her wear her blood stained white dress during some of the missions! Speaking of her dresses, each character does have a few variations of the outfits they wear, but it’s nothing too special. It almost would’ve been no different if Capcom just gave each character one particular outfit because really the only variations there are in the multiple outfits deal with the minor color changes.

But nevertheless, each Smith persona definitely looks great, and it’s cool to have a look at each throughout the game! Now when it comes to your actual enemies, the Heaven Smile, they are quite diversified as well! Now there are instances in which a certain “species” of the terrorist group are repeated in each mission, but each level actually do have new ones for you to encounter that will look very interesting! There are the normal ones that look more or less like “turned humans” but there are other REALLY weird looking ones that will truly make your eyes open in wonder. Some of them can float or fly, some of them just roll around on the ground and some look like bio-freaks. But regardless, some of them are seen in every mission, while each also have new types of the terrorist group to throw at you!

Next we have our special effects and animations. It’s really tough to say the special effects in Killer 7 don’t impress, because they most certainly do! When it comes to all the natural effects dealing with fire, wind, water and such, they all look very good! If you ever do watch anime on tv or have played other videogames that feature this similar graphics style, you will be pretty familiar with how these effects actually look! But how Killer 7 does it once again seems both cartoony and realistic at the same time. Killer 7 carries a very mature atmosphere, and the special effects were implemented to very much accentuate that! Just like the natural effects, others like the bleeding of your enemies to how fluid everything moves, it’s all great! Oh yeah, there is PLENTY of blood in this game, so it’s definitely not for the squeamish.

Finally, we have our anime style FMVs, and Killer 7 is full of them! They normally take place inbetween missions or during the story when important parts of it are revealed, but regardless of where they are, they couldn’t possibly look more beautiful than they do! If you watch anime on tv or have seen anime style cutscenes in any other videogames, you will know what these looks like. They are rendered beautifully and really make for an authentic anime experience!

So all in all, the only major complaint that could be seen in the graphical style of Killer 7 is the lack of elaborate colors. Some of the areas just look so “meshed” together because there’s nothing really distinguishing parts of them from others. The detail is definitely there for the most part, but some areas of the game really just look downright bland. The same can also be said about the “recurring” Heaven Smile species, they don’t tend to look to different from each other either.

The music style in Killer 7 is unique to say the least. Combined with a confusing story, unique graphics and love it or hate it gameplay mechanics, the music just joins them to make up the unique presentation that is Killer 7. This game will definitely throw you through a loop with how strange the music can be sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable! Most of Killer 7’s music will encompass various techno and suspenseful themes that help push the pace of the action forward. Some of them are more upbeat and fast paced, some are more spine chilling and serene. It all depends on which mission you may be going through and how the mood of the actual atmosphere is being portrayed.

Honestly, the best theme in the game is during the screen that you can choose which difficulty setting you will play with at the beginning, and that is somewhat unfortunate. That techno beat can really make you just want to dance if you’re into that kind of thing, but that kind of “drawn in” feel doesn’t exactly happen as often during the game. Sure the music is still great, but it’s sole purpose in the actual game is simply to keep the action flow at the nice pace and keep you from being bored. Nothing really “draws” you in, but perhaps that is because the game relies so heavily on the story that drives it rather than making you feel the true, raw emotion. Don’t take that the wrong way though, there are certain parts of the game that will definitely make you feel something on the inside, but it’s not as often as it could’ve been.

There is plenty of voice acting in this game. While it isn’t done so much during the actual action that will ensue in the game, it is very much there. Most of it occurs in the various cutscenes and FMVs that Killer 7 offers, and it’s all done extremely well. Harman Smith is a bit on the older side when it comes to age, but his voice definitely makes you feel like he is a true assassin with having a sort of low but bass filled voice. The same can be said about Garcian, the negotiator. When you hear him talk, you can feel the level of intimidation and intelligence that he has, which is just what a great negotiator should have! He makes sure to get his point across just like Harman does, and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. Unfortunately they are the only two Smiths you really hear from extensively in the game, but just the sheer quality of their personalities make up for the lack of the rest of them talking!

Now that doesn’t go to say the others don’t talk, they simply don’t do it nearly as often. During certain cutscenes in the game, characters like Dan Smith and Mask de Smith were given a small number of memorable lines, so that’s always a good thing! But when it comes down, most of the talking the other personas do are the various things they say when you achieve an instant kill shot or the lines they have when you can view them on the various tv’s throughout the game. This is definitely where the “mature language” comes in because each of them swears in some fashion. Unfortunately if you’re on the younger side, this game probably won’t be a part of your collection anytime soon simply because of the sheer “openness” of the spoken dialogue. You will hear plenty of cuss words throughout the game, but all it really does is add to the mature atmosphere and bring the characters more to life than they may have been. Sure some of the one liners get repetitive after a while, but just hearing some of those lines multiple times doesn’t necessarily get boring until much later in the game!

Where Killer 7 suffers a little bit in this department is the sounds. Now that’s not referring to the various sounds of your weapons and special effects, those actually sound great. No matter which gun you use or what explosion you may hear, they sound incredibly authentic and if you have a stereo system for your tv, you are in for a treat! Where the sounds suffer in this game is the way all the NPCs like to talk to you. It’s actually rather strange how Capcom chose to go about it, and sometimes it’s just downright annoying to hear dialogue driven sounds that make you think you’re playing a game from the 8-bit era! There are a good number of NPCs that will be either telling you clues about the plot in the game or helping you with your mission objectives. But what’s annoying about it is the fact that the way they speak sounds like nothing but a bunch of jumbled up electrical signals. It almost seems as if Capcom took the voices of people who actually spoke for them and meshed them with some odd computerized technology so it’s virtually impossible to hear any words they’re saying! They all talk in some strange muffled fashion that really makes you thankful for being able to skip through what some people say to you.

But with those small annoyances out of the way, you are definitely in for a treat when it comes to the music and sounds of Killer 7. Yes sometimes you may get fed up with how much you may have wanted the NPC’s dialogue to have actually been spoken, but you should be able to look past it for the quality that everything else offers you!

Killer 7 is truly a love it or hate it kind of experience when it comes to the gameplay mechanics that it utilizes. It does indeed function with rail shooter controls that normally are only seen in actual arcade first-person shooter games. But nevertheless, while it does have its low points, it can be a total blast if you are willing to give it a chance!

For those of you that may not understand what “rail shooting” really means, it’s basically a form of movement that is placed on a preset path. In other words, you press and hold one button, and the character does all the moving for you. You don’t control the angles or anything, simply holding down one button that will cause whatever character you are using at the time to run on the path that Capcom designed for you!

So like stated, Killer 7 runs on a rail shooting movement engine. So what happens next? Well, while you are making your current persona run along the preset path, you have to listen in carefully to the various laughs and cackles of the Heaven Smile, as that is the only way to know of their close presence. At any time you hear some form of creepy laughter, that is your cue to draw out your character’s weapon and begin scanning! Drawing out your weapon happens with the simple holding of the right shoulder button and holding the left to scan. Why do you have to scan? The Heaven Smile hide themselves from you with the use of optic camouflage and scanning is the only way to make them appear in physical form. So while you do your scanning, you will eventually spot a certain area on your enemy’s body that is sort of “sparkling.” That just happens to be their weak spot, and if you hit that location perfectly with one shot, it’s instant death for them!

Killing the Heaven Smile allow you to collect the blood you need. You’re probably thinking that’s extremely gross, but hey, it’s the way this game is. Just what is the blood used for? Well it’s used for two things, healing your character as well as upgrading the various members of the Smith Syndicate! At any given time during the game, you can hold a total of 20 vials of “thin blood” that you can use at any time you wish to heal any damage your current character may have sustained. The way you know if your character is going to die or not is the eyeball that is displayed on your screen. Each time you get hit by whatever you may be with, that eyeball begins to gradually close shut. The more your eye is closed, the closer you are to dying. So anytime you notice your eye being closed to completely shutting, you should use some of that blood to heal yourself!

Now when it comes to upgrading your team, that is done through the use of the “Harman’s Rooms.” Each mission has a multiple number of these rooms, and there you can save your game, upgrade the Smith Syndicate, or talk to your guide Iwarazu! How do you upgrade your characters? Well it’s simple. Along with the thin blood that you collect from the dead Heaven Smile, you also collect thick blood! This comes in combination with the thin blood, so you really never have to worry about not being able to collect enough of each. You are able to carry a maximum of 1000 units of thick blood during the course of a mission, but that’s really your cue to get to a Harman’s Room and get it processed! Accessing the tv in a room, one of the channels happens to be a “Blood Room.” On this channel, you see a creepy male character in front of an elaborate looking machine that will produce serum from the thick blood you’ve collected. There is a set number of serum vials you can process in each mission to prevent you from maxing out each character during the very first mission, and that’s totally understandable. With this thick blood, you can upgrade the four different skills of each persona however you please. Abilities such as power, which increases the power of your weapons, or speed which increases the speed in which you fire or reload your weapon and so on. Some characters have exclusive abilities like Mask de Smith who carries dual grenade launchers and has an “explosion radius” skill to go along with!

Also, with each character’s unique weapon, such as Dan Smith’s incredible revolver, Con Smith’s dual automatic pistols and Kevin Smith’s knives come exclusive abilities given to them! These can be such skills as Dan Smith’s “collateral shot” which is basically a big glowing ball of destruction from his revolver, the invisibility skill of Kevin Smith, the lock picking skill of Coyote Smith and the incredibly fast running speed skill of Con Smith! The most bizarre skill is most definitely Kaede Smith’s, in which she literally slits her wrists to absorb special blood while being able to break down barriers with her own! By the way, it’s definitely recommended to not try that at home, it would probably hurt a lot!

So just how to you switch between personas at will? Well it’s simple, it’s all done through the pause menu! At the beginning of each mission, you will have a few of the personas already waiting for you to use them, but some have to be “awakened” through the killing of a certain number of Heaven Smile. Now that doesn’t normally take very long, so you’ll have all of the personas at your disposal pretty quickly, which is a good thing. But all you have to do is go into the pause menu, choose the “Personalities” section and choose whomever you wish to use next! You then see your current character sort of “die out” by exploding into a cloud of blood, and then that cloud of blood comes back to form the newest persona you’ve chosen!

As for puzzles in this game, they can either be blatantly obvious how to solve, or may take a little time to think about because of the number of steps they take to solve. Most of the time it will end up being just being the task of finding a certain item or two or manipulating certain objects or equipment to unlock a door that you need to go through in order to progress. Most of the puzzles in the first few missions don’t require too much thought to figure out, as the NPCs generally warn you of what you’re about to face in regards to that. But the ones in the latter missions can definitely make you think if you’re not immediately sure of what to do at first. Sometimes it requires the use of multiple rings you’ll get in the game or sometimes it may require using certain items you’ve acquired throughout a certain mission. Most of the time the level’s puzzles will bring you to acquire the “Soul Shells” that you seek. These are the items you present to the Gatekeeper you encounter in each mission that allows you access to the Vinculum Gate. This is truly a bizarre area, but it pretty much takes you into the next important area of the mission in which you encounter a “special” Heaven Smile that a little kid clues you in on how to kill. Once you get through the Coliseum area, you will encounter that Smile, take it out, and move on! These puzzles are definitely an integral part of this game, which adds nicely to the action and role-playing elements Killer 7 already offers!

The beauty of Killer 7’s gameplay though, is the fact that there’s a good chance you’ll never get a “Game Over” to happen! Why is that? Well anytime the current persona you using may die, you have Garcian Smith ready and waiting to clean up the mess! The somewhat disturbing part of this is when a particular persona dies, all that’s left of them is a chalk drawn outline of their body with a small paper bag lying with it, only with the character’s head inside of it! As disgusting as it may sound it’s true, but when you die, you can choose to have Garcian Smith go to the very place you died and have him put the head in his long briefcase! After this is done, you will automatically be taken back to the Harman’s Room where you came from where you have to simply tap A multiple times to try reviving the character!

Next, we have the way you actually navigate through your missions! As it’s obvious now, your movement is based on rail mechanics. So how do you make turns and access other areas of your missions? Well it’s simple, through the use of junctions! Junctions are fixed points in each area that basically allow you to choose which way you want to go. They come up automatically to let you know it’s time to make a decision on a different path of navigation, so you should never be confused with where you have to go. The choosing of your next path comes with the simple use of the analog stick and the A button to select which path may happen to pop up on the screen. To turn yourself around, you simply tap the B button, somewhat similar to the “180 degree turn” function of the Resident Evil games.

Finally, you have your lovely NPCs! The main one that you will encounter in this game is a VERY strange looking man that goes by the name Iwarazu. He talks in that very funny tone mentioned before, and he’s basically there to tell you what you’re about to face as you continue progressing. He does tend to be a drama queen by repeating the same “depressing” phrases at the start of all his statements. Whether it’s something like, “We’re in a tight spot!” or “This is bad!” or “This is simply not good!”, it can be annoying. Most of the time he can end up being pretty helpful, but having to see him say the same phrase at the beginnings of all his advice, especially with the number of times you see him in each mission can downright annoy you. Now there are other NPCs in the game as well whose sole purpose is to tell you the most random things you may have ever heard in an attempt to help you understand just what the heck is going on! Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but the scary thing you will find out is just why these people are really talking to you in the first place!

So to put it simply, if you’re willing to give this game a chance with the restrictive features that the rail shooting engine causes, you will have a blast! Really not having full control over the movement of the Smith characters is almost a blessing at times. It makes for getting through the missions much more convenient by already pointing you in the direction that you have to go, but for those gamers out there that don’t like having their hand held, it may wear thin on you pretty quickly. But even so, it still very much deserves a try!

Just like how the beginning and virtually all the missions will probably end up confusing you, Killer 7’s ending has a very good chance of doing the same as well! The very last mission that you go through with Garcian Smith is truly the most mind bending. Some parts will make sense, but the for the most part, you will be asking questions the whole time. Once again, Killer 7’s plot is just so bizarre and confusing that you simply HAVE to replay it at least once just to even BEGIN having a chance at understanding it! The actual ending of the game is pretty cool, as well as the final cutscene with Harman Smith and his nemesis is, but the confusion level is just too much to really get a concrete understanding of why everything has happened the way it has. If you think you will be able to understand this game the first time through, good luck!

Killer 7 has some great replay value. For those that will love this game, a second time through is an absolute no-brainer. When you actually beat the game the first time, you will unlock a mode called “Killer 8.” It is a special feature that allows you to have one additional persona to play with on the course of your next play through. But just for the sake of not spoiling anything that will not be revealed. However, along with that you can also choose to go through the game on hard difficulty! This mode is far more difficult that normal in that the Heaven Smile are harder to kill and you can only hold ten vials of thin blood at once. In Killer 8 mode, it’s even MORE difficult in that you can’t even see the weak spots of the Heaven Smile terrorists and blood does NOT come very often! The replay value of Killer 7 may offer a hefty challenge, but it’s certainly worth going through at least once more if NOT more!

Killer 7 is without a doubt the most unique game to come out of this generation so far. It’s almost without the doubt the most confusing one as well! Now some may view the game being a huge mistake with the gameplay mechanics Capcom chose to implement into it, but it really does deserve a try by any and all shooter genre fans out there! The graphics are done very well, with the anime style experience truly evident and eye opening during many parts of the endeavor. The music and sounds are great too, even with the few annoyances that some aspects tend to bring! Now the love it or hate it gameplay can definitely make a gamer shy away from this incredibly unique game, but if you can get used to it after the first mission, you should end up loving it! The replay value is also definitely there, with offering more unique and difficult challenges. So for those of you who are daring enough to try out this game, you may just find Killer 7 worth it! Hey, at least we have something to play before Geist comes out in a few weeks right?