If you, like me, have been stuck inside by the recent Snowgnarok, the end of days predicted by Norse mythology where the gods of old fight to the death and snow rains down upon the Earth, then you’ve probably been playing video games for the past week. Aside from the Call of Duty, League of Legends, and Dungeons and Dragons I’ve been playing, I felt it time to pick up my old copy of Killer7 again and see if I could beat it on one of the harder difficulties. Suffice it to say I didn’t get too far, but I thought I would share with you, the people of the internet, why, in my humble opinion, Killer7 is one of the best games of all time.
When it was released for the PS2 and GameCube back in the day of 2005, Killer7 was one of those games no one had ever heard of that, while receiving both good and bad reviews from critics, flopped by its publisher Capcom’s standards and fell to the wayside of modern gaming culture. Yes, it was not one of the best looking games around, but it had and still has one of the best storylines ever put into a video game. Newer games do not even begin to compare to the depth of story held by this now five year old game, leaving me with the feeling that, possibly because of how Killer7 turned out, no one wanted to put good story in games because developers believed they would flop.
A large part of Killer7‘s appeal comes from the relative simplicity of its gameplay. It is an action-adventure first-person rail shooter. This means that the player moves throughout each labyrinthine level on a line, with a few forks in the road to choose from now and then, and whenever an enemy appears they can go into first person view to aim and fire their weapon at the enemy. Killing enemies lets you collect blood which can be used to either power attacks or buy upgrades. Simple enough to let the story take main stage and allow the gameplay to help convey that story without being cluttered with extraneous details. Anyway, I digress. The players takes the role of one of 7 characters, members of the elite assassin’s gang Killer7 with the last name Smith, to go throughout the level, each with their own talents, weapons, and personalities. Should one of them fall in battle, Garcian “The Cleaner” Smith, the weakest character by far at the close of the game, must be sent out if you wish to retrieve the brown paper bag containing their remains and revive your fallen comrade. If Garcian should be killed then it’s game over since there is no one to pick up his kibbles ‘n’ bits.
So what’s so great about the Killer7 story. Well, for starters, it has one, something modern games can barely boast. There is even a surprise twist at the end that even M. Night Shyamarmalade wouldn’t see coming. The game starts out in the not too distant 21st century after the world has signed a non-aggression pact and destroyed its entire nuclear stockpile (by shooting the missiles and the launching more missiles at them). But, there are members of Japan’s political system which want to separate from the rest of the world (mainly the US). The separatists, calling themselves the Heaven’s Smile are taking drastic measures to ensure that they gain control over the Japanese political giant. That’s where the Killer7 assassin’s come in. BTW, this is all on the inner cover of the instruction booklet, the story just gets better as you go on and I’d hate to spoil any of it for anyone, so just go play it yourself and get the big picture.
Anyway, so what exactly are you fighting? Every level, the Killer7 assassins have been tasked with a mission to kill some member of the Heaven’s Smile gang, of which belong some of the creepiest enemies I have ever seen in a video game. The Heaven’s Smile lackeys are created via a virus which increases the human desire to kill and have been equipped with a “bomb organ” which allows them to explode at will, totally not like anything else in the world. This is frightening. At first Heaven’s Smiles will shamble forward like Resident Evil zombies, slowly walking at you, and one on one they aren’t that hard to kill, but when half a dozen are sprinting at you and you have to land 6 precisely aimed shots before you have to reload which takes forever and then they explode on your face and you die it can be fairly intense and, after the first few levels anyway, this doesn’t happen often. The standard Heaven’s Smiles get quickly replaced bigger and badder ones, which are out for blood. Granted you are also out for their blood (you get extra blood for pro-shooting), but that’s beside the point.
One of the main failing points for Killer7 was that the graphics were considered subpar. Initially the game was designed to be GameCube exclusive, back when the GC was losing to the video game giants, the Xbox and PS2, and was forced to have a very limited budget, both monetarily and memory wise, concerning graphics. Also, Cel-shading was, for whatever reason, really popular in game development at the time, especially on the GameCube, which was often looked down upon by gamers if not done exceptionally well. Killer7 comes off as heavily monotone and blocky and can be, and is quite often, visually uninteresting to the average player. That isn’t to say that the people at Grasshopper Manufacture, the team who went on to make No More Heroes, did a poor job. The main characters are incredibly well done and do not suffer the same block shaped downfalls as many of the Heaven’s Smiles and other characters face. The game also switches animation style in a few places that look incredible, but, as I wish not to spoil anything, you’ll just have to play it yourself to see.
If you have ever complained about a video games story for being bad, then Killer7 is the game for you. It has a story that, like a good book, will make you keep playing until you reach the end which, unlike in so many other games today, will not leave you disappointed. Granted obtaining a copy may be a little difficult given your current situation, Amazon has it for around ten bucks which is very worth it. If you are not big into story games and want to just kill stuff there are plenty of other games out there to fulfill your violent needs, but for a unique and truly delightful experience, Killer7 is a classic and absolutely fantastic choice.