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E3 2013: Killer is Dead (Hands-On)

Posted by: Matt at 6/17/2013 6:55 PM
     I've got to admit it was surprising to see Marvelous XSeed on the main show floor of the South Hall during E3. Normally these guys keep things low profile. But I guess when you've got a Suda 51 title like Killer is Dead you want to make sure you get it to as many people as possible. It looks like the gambit paid off, as the game always had a line, and plenty of people seemed to be enjoying it, myself included. Killer 7 and No More Heroes were my jam back in the Wii and GameCube eras, so I was extremely eager to get my hands on the latest Suda trip, and now, the nebulous summer release date seems so close, yet so far away.

    Stepping into the shoes of the assassin, Mondo Zappa, the demo tasked me with taking out Victor, atop a building he owns. The story wasn't too clear on why he needed to die, but Mondo seems like he's all business and not in the mood for the particulars of a mission. The climb up the tower was nothing short of challenging, as this game is most certainly difficult, but in a way that makes all your successes feel incredibly satisfying. As I hacked and slashed my way through enemies, cutting them down to pieces (it looks like Mondo learned a thing or two from Raiden from the Metal Gear Solid franchise), I fell many times, but was quickly revived in a quirky mini-game that involved one of Mondo's supporters beating on his chest to get his heart going again. Good to see that Suda hasn't left that sense of humor on the cutting room floor like so many body parts.

     Visually this game is downright stunning. If you thought Killer 7 was a wild looking game, you haven't seen anything yet. Killer is Dead has an incredibly unique art style that features cel-shaded characters, with heavy accents on their shadows, giving the game a distinctly comic book feel, not unlike Tecmo-Koei's Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, but with a lot more focus on the darkness, matching the game's tone perfectly. Also this game isn't for the squeamish, as there is blood everywhere, hell, Mondo uses blood to fire the gun that is mounted in that mechanical left arm of his. His other hand holds the katana that you'll be using for the majority of the adventure, and using it feels nice and fluid, but that fluidity means that timing is important in everything you do, from dodges to combos this didn't feel like a game where you'd want to mash attack to win. 

     I didn't get to try out the 'Gigolo Mode' due to the game crashing (on account of me being so awesome), but what I played was most definitely solid and satisfying to play. If there is one thing I was I had been able to better experience, it's the soundtrack. I was hoping to hear some new Akira Yamaoka, but I suppose I'll get an earful of that when the game is released later this summer on the Xbox 360 and PS3.