kill.switch

kill.switch

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 1/21/2004 for PS2  

While everyone seems to be jumping on that whole stealth espionage bandwagon it’s nice to see that at least someone out there is still trying to keep things real. Sure, there’s a certain level of excitement to be had from sneaking up on someone, snapping their neck, dragging their limp body over to a retinal scanner and then dropping their body in the covers of darkness, but there’s also something much more intriguing about mowing down legions of bad guys with some lead justice. I’ve been craving a straight-up shooter with a little bit of substance and I’ve satisfied that craving with Namco’s kill.switch.

The premise of the game is quite simple; you’re part of an anti-terrorism organization that travels around the world to diffuse hostile situations before they can get out of hand. You’re given control of a human-like death soldier who is essentially the perfect killing machine. Like most games of this genre the storyline is purely a means of throwing fodder towards your crosshairs. Some of the elements of the story are pretty intriguing but they’re not really the highlight of the game, mainly because it takes a huge backseat to the action. There’s plenty of variety in the missions ranging from military installations to ancient ruins. Wherever the location you can be assured that there are plenty of people to kill and plenty of cover to utilize.

Unlike most third person shooters the game adds a layer of depth by employing what Namco likes to call the “blindfire” system. It’s pretty simple and it makes a hell of a lot of sense. Essentially it allows you to fire upon foes while the majority of your body is concealed. So let’s say you’re crouching behind a crate, by using the blindfire system you can poke your gun out over the crate and spray the area with bullets. The system is understandably inaccurate so you can poke your head out for a bit more accuracy but of course doing so exposes your body to gunfire. If you choose you can bring the sights up to your eyes for a bit more accuracy, this is especially helpful for scoped weapons like the sniper rifle.

You’ll have a pretty potent arsenal at your disposal although the variety wasn’t as great as I would have liked it to be. Most of the weapons feel very similar to one another and have very few differences when it comes to the feel and impact of the weapon. There’s a shotgun in the game but it feels heavily out of place because most of the combat is done at a distance and not in close quarters. I was a little disappointed to see that the designers couldn’t come up with a good compromise between reality and fantasy when it came to the arsenal. You can carry as many weapons as you want but you’ll be limited to a very small cache of ammo, making for a very strange contrast. You can pick up the rounds that enemies drop upon your death but it never seems like you have enough ammo to complete your mission. You’ll also have some grenades at your disposal too, including flash bangs and mines. They bring forth some nice gameplay dynamics that allow you to flush out foes and designate one-man deathtraps.While the game seems like a straight-up action shooter it’s actually grounded in a bit of reality. Your soldier is essentially a disposable human so he can only withstand a small amount of damage. If you decide to wander out into the middle of a killzone Rambo-style then you can expect to be mowed down in a matter of seconds. This poses a few problems to the gameplay that can make the experience quite frustrating. While the game is a 3rd person shooter at its core doing combat without the help of the cover system is pretty difficult because of the camera system. It’s hard to turn around to combat enemies and you’ll find it difficult to fight in open areas that lack cover. If you get put in such a position your only chance comes from switching to the first person mode, otherwise you can basically kiss your ass goodbye.

Overall the missions are all very fun, if not a bit frustrating. Sometimes it’s very difficult to tell when you’re getting shot at from and under most circumstances you’ll be dead before you can really react. Also, the aforementioned camera problems really make it difficult to combat foes without cover. Although the game employs the dual-analog system of aiming that I’m always vying for in my console shooters it doesn’t quite execute it properly. A lot of it also has to do with how close the camera sits next to your character too. Perhaps if the camera had been zoomed out a bit more I would be able to get a better grasp on the overall situation. To make matters even more difficult there are absolutely no respawn points within the missions. Some of them can take upwards of 10-to-15 minutes to complete. It’s difficult to accurately describe how annoying it is to fight through hordes of enemies for 15 minutes only to get mowed down by a solitary jackass that you didn’t see at the last objective point.

When I played the first build of the game I was very under whelmed by the game’s visuals. I felt that the desert level (the one included on the pack-in demo that came with Soul Calibur 2) was very PSOne-ish and looked absolutely atrocious. I’m glad to see that the Namco artists went back and added some more refinement to the characters and the environments. It also appears that our hero’s animations were beefed up as well as the movement is much smoother in this retail product. It’s not the most amazing looking title but the visuals definitely get the job done.

I had a few problems with the audio, first was the freakish girl who says “say my name” really seductively every time the game loads. It scared the hell out of me the first time I booted up the game and it just really seemed out of place every time I heard it. Some of the gunshot effects are a bit underpowered and really didn’t do too much to push the limits of my subwoofer. There are some decent surround sound effects in place but nothing that goes out of its way to showcase a top of the line audio setup.

It’s not a perfect game and it won’t make me forget about Splinter Cell or SOCOM but my time spent with it was definitely much more positive than negative. There are enough redeeming elements in the game and if you’re willing to give it a chance you just might come away surprised and satisfied.
Amidst the clutter of tactical shooters and over-the-top shooters comes Namco's kill.switch, a surprisingly entertaining shooter with some innovative elements. Flip your brain.switch and prepare to be entertained.

Rating: 7.3 Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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