Past Expiration Spotlight: Killer7

Posted by Sarumarine (2243 posts) -

Past Expiration is my little term for talking about a game way past its prime. In this case, it's about a game that defies explanation that originally came out on the GameCube in 2005. Topical!

Killer7 (What The Hell?: The Game)

 A Luchador and a Gimp Sidekick: Totally in this Game
The main reason I'm blogging about Killer7 is that I found it for 9 dollars online, brand new, for the GameCube and played through it again. It's one of those games that... hell... where do I even start? From the style to the gameplay to the story, Killer7 refuses to fall into any easy category. For that reason, it's probably one of the most polarizing games I've ever seen. Whether you love it or hate it, there are TONS of reasons for both sides. To be straight up, I love this game for its endless quirks and style. One thing that Killer7 isn't short of, it's personality. And blood. Lots and lots of blood. This doesn't make it any less weird, but it does make it one unique experience.
 
...if you can stomach the gameplay I suppose.
 

What It's About (I Guess)

To get started, you play as the Smith Syndicate (a gang of assassins) contracted by the United States Government to eliminate the Heaven Smiles terrorist organization. Heaven Smiles are grotesque smiling creatures that attack via suicide bombs in order to kill, destroy, and create terror for the sake of creating terror. They chime in with very distinct laughter right before they explode. Oh, except this is a weird future Earth where the world is at peace, commercial air traffic has been discontinued, and every continent is connected by super expressways. As Harman Smith, you control seven different personalities with different skills to take down Heaven Smiles wherever they may be. The other personae you play as have weapons like scoped pistols, knives, grenade launchers, revolvers, and a pair of semi-automatics that can dump like no one's business.
 
And that's the simple version.
 
One of the strengths and weaknesses of this game is how utterly complex (or garbled) everything is concerning the story. On top of assassins fighting monsters, there's a political conspiracy between East and West (US and Japan), personality disorders, and an eternal duel between Harman Smith and the leader of the Heaven Smiles, Kun Lan. They might be godlike entities. Maybe. Attempting to wrap your head around everything that goes on in one playthrough is just about impossible. Killer7 achieves that movie-like status of making repeated playthroughs more appealing as you notice things you didn't before and attempt to connect events together. It's also fair if you feel it's just one asspull after another, becoming a jumbled mess of fifty different plot threads. 

 "You see, people judge books by their covers."
However, I like how goddamn strange and striking the whole experience is. It really requires your attention, and hanging on presents you with some pretty cool cutscenes. Some great characters too. The mission involving Andrei Ulmeyda is probably my favorite part of the game. There's also the completely despicable Curtis Blackburn who must be seen to be believed. He does some completely rotten shit with children to give you a small idea. 
 
 
I have some of my favorites scenes in the links below. I'd almost post the whole game with a little less restraint. In another time and place, I might say they were spoilers. But without context (even with context) you'd have to try pretty hard to hurt the narrative. 
Russian Roulette
Cloudman
Curtis Blackburn
Harman and Kun
 

A Game, You Say?

 Laughter has Never Been so Lethal
Playing Killer7 is just about as weird as the story. It's some hybrid of a rail shooter and an FPS with character leveling. While third person, the camera is very classic Resident Evil style. You can only move around on set tracks, but you go at your own pace and can choose to branch off or backtrack whenever you want. This gives the game plenty of opportunity for dramatic camera angles or low shots of your character running. When it comes to fighting, you aim and shoot FPS style. 
 
Heaven Smile enemies start out invisible but they give themselves away with hideous laughter. You have to scan the environment in order to locate and shoot them. Every single one of them has a weak point that can kill them in one shot. This gets more complicated as the game goes on and Smile tactics get more erratic and dangerous. Killing Smiles gives you blood that you can use to upgrade six of the seven Smith personalities. Add on top of that special abilities for each character, and damn, it looks like there's a lot to keep track of.

And there is, but the game is pretty good about helpful hints and reminding you (just about every single time) what character can tackle the next obstacle. Anytime a major enemy appears, there's a guy that appears to give you hints about what's going to happen. It's never a straight info dump, as the support characters go off on tangents and play to their own personalities.
 
Now, the buttons to get all this done is pretty awkward compared to today's standards. You don't use the control stick to move around. You hold the A button like driving a car. If you want to turn around, you press B. Aiming and Shooting is simple enough, but if you're expecting to whip around modern shooter style guns blazing... you will be SORELY disappointed. It takes... getting use to. But it's not impossible. I had adjusted by the second mission. Still it's a legitimate stumbling block.
 

Shoot to Kill, Unload to Reload

Shooting styles between the various characters is really well done. One of my favorites is Coyote Smith. He holds his revolver upside down and sideways. Recoil pushes your aim down instead of up. It's a completely ridiculous... but it makes killing things an accomplishment. There's also Con Smith, a blind teenager that uses a pair of semi-automatic pistols. He can pour bullets on targets at the cost of accuracy. Shoot fast enough and sometimes sheer quantity will take care of your problems in a hurry. He also reloads his guns by some sort of hackey sack motion by kicking magazines off his feet. All the characters have some sort of stylish way to reload their guns (with the exception of Kevin who uses throwing knives). Killer7 makes reloading an art style even if it's nowhere near physically possible. These aren't exactly normal people anyway.
 
I feel like I should mention that on rare occasions you'll use Harman Smith (an old man in a wheelchair). His weapon is an Anti-tank Rifle. It's that kind of game.
 
Bosses are also made interesting by the sheer variety. At one point, you fight a pair of old Japanese men with their heads blown to pieces. They attack by throwing brains at you. There's also a French black ops dude, an boss you kill by shooting his afro, and a showdown with a group similar to the Power Rangers. Most of the time with no explanation given. Confusion is natural with Killer7.
 

"I don't follow."

Most, if not all, of the time it will feel like Killer7 is going out of its way to punch your brain. But that's what makes it so great. It's worth it to see all the non sequiturs and there is enough plot you can follow that when you get to the end, it feels fulfilling. The gameplay is pretty bewildering. If there's one stumbling block in Killer7, it would be that. If you can deal with it, you're in for a ride.
 
It also has some cool game completion bonuses. It won't make anything less crazy, but there is a tommy gun involved.
Online
#1 Posted by Sarumarine (2243 posts) -

Past Expiration is my little term for talking about a game way past its prime. In this case, it's about a game that defies explanation that originally came out on the GameCube in 2005. Topical!

Killer7 (What The Hell?: The Game)

 A Luchador and a Gimp Sidekick: Totally in this Game
The main reason I'm blogging about Killer7 is that I found it for 9 dollars online, brand new, for the GameCube and played through it again. It's one of those games that... hell... where do I even start? From the style to the gameplay to the story, Killer7 refuses to fall into any easy category. For that reason, it's probably one of the most polarizing games I've ever seen. Whether you love it or hate it, there are TONS of reasons for both sides. To be straight up, I love this game for its endless quirks and style. One thing that Killer7 isn't short of, it's personality. And blood. Lots and lots of blood. This doesn't make it any less weird, but it does make it one unique experience.
 
...if you can stomach the gameplay I suppose.
 

What It's About (I Guess)

To get started, you play as the Smith Syndicate (a gang of assassins) contracted by the United States Government to eliminate the Heaven Smiles terrorist organization. Heaven Smiles are grotesque smiling creatures that attack via suicide bombs in order to kill, destroy, and create terror for the sake of creating terror. They chime in with very distinct laughter right before they explode. Oh, except this is a weird future Earth where the world is at peace, commercial air traffic has been discontinued, and every continent is connected by super expressways. As Harman Smith, you control seven different personalities with different skills to take down Heaven Smiles wherever they may be. The other personae you play as have weapons like scoped pistols, knives, grenade launchers, revolvers, and a pair of semi-automatics that can dump like no one's business.
 
And that's the simple version.
 
One of the strengths and weaknesses of this game is how utterly complex (or garbled) everything is concerning the story. On top of assassins fighting monsters, there's a political conspiracy between East and West (US and Japan), personality disorders, and an eternal duel between Harman Smith and the leader of the Heaven Smiles, Kun Lan. They might be godlike entities. Maybe. Attempting to wrap your head around everything that goes on in one playthrough is just about impossible. Killer7 achieves that movie-like status of making repeated playthroughs more appealing as you notice things you didn't before and attempt to connect events together. It's also fair if you feel it's just one asspull after another, becoming a jumbled mess of fifty different plot threads. 

 "You see, people judge books by their covers."
However, I like how goddamn strange and striking the whole experience is. It really requires your attention, and hanging on presents you with some pretty cool cutscenes. Some great characters too. The mission involving Andrei Ulmeyda is probably my favorite part of the game. There's also the completely despicable Curtis Blackburn who must be seen to be believed. He does some completely rotten shit with children to give you a small idea. 
 
 
I have some of my favorites scenes in the links below. I'd almost post the whole game with a little less restraint. In another time and place, I might say they were spoilers. But without context (even with context) you'd have to try pretty hard to hurt the narrative. 
Russian Roulette
Cloudman
Curtis Blackburn
Harman and Kun
 

A Game, You Say?

 Laughter has Never Been so Lethal
Playing Killer7 is just about as weird as the story. It's some hybrid of a rail shooter and an FPS with character leveling. While third person, the camera is very classic Resident Evil style. You can only move around on set tracks, but you go at your own pace and can choose to branch off or backtrack whenever you want. This gives the game plenty of opportunity for dramatic camera angles or low shots of your character running. When it comes to fighting, you aim and shoot FPS style. 
 
Heaven Smile enemies start out invisible but they give themselves away with hideous laughter. You have to scan the environment in order to locate and shoot them. Every single one of them has a weak point that can kill them in one shot. This gets more complicated as the game goes on and Smile tactics get more erratic and dangerous. Killing Smiles gives you blood that you can use to upgrade six of the seven Smith personalities. Add on top of that special abilities for each character, and damn, it looks like there's a lot to keep track of.

And there is, but the game is pretty good about helpful hints and reminding you (just about every single time) what character can tackle the next obstacle. Anytime a major enemy appears, there's a guy that appears to give you hints about what's going to happen. It's never a straight info dump, as the support characters go off on tangents and play to their own personalities.
 
Now, the buttons to get all this done is pretty awkward compared to today's standards. You don't use the control stick to move around. You hold the A button like driving a car. If you want to turn around, you press B. Aiming and Shooting is simple enough, but if you're expecting to whip around modern shooter style guns blazing... you will be SORELY disappointed. It takes... getting use to. But it's not impossible. I had adjusted by the second mission. Still it's a legitimate stumbling block.
 

Shoot to Kill, Unload to Reload

Shooting styles between the various characters is really well done. One of my favorites is Coyote Smith. He holds his revolver upside down and sideways. Recoil pushes your aim down instead of up. It's a completely ridiculous... but it makes killing things an accomplishment. There's also Con Smith, a blind teenager that uses a pair of semi-automatic pistols. He can pour bullets on targets at the cost of accuracy. Shoot fast enough and sometimes sheer quantity will take care of your problems in a hurry. He also reloads his guns by some sort of hackey sack motion by kicking magazines off his feet. All the characters have some sort of stylish way to reload their guns (with the exception of Kevin who uses throwing knives). Killer7 makes reloading an art style even if it's nowhere near physically possible. These aren't exactly normal people anyway.
 
I feel like I should mention that on rare occasions you'll use Harman Smith (an old man in a wheelchair). His weapon is an Anti-tank Rifle. It's that kind of game.
 
Bosses are also made interesting by the sheer variety. At one point, you fight a pair of old Japanese men with their heads blown to pieces. They attack by throwing brains at you. There's also a French black ops dude, an boss you kill by shooting his afro, and a showdown with a group similar to the Power Rangers. Most of the time with no explanation given. Confusion is natural with Killer7.
 

"I don't follow."

Most, if not all, of the time it will feel like Killer7 is going out of its way to punch your brain. But that's what makes it so great. It's worth it to see all the non sequiturs and there is enough plot you can follow that when you get to the end, it feels fulfilling. The gameplay is pretty bewildering. If there's one stumbling block in Killer7, it would be that. If you can deal with it, you're in for a ride.
 
It also has some cool game completion bonuses. It won't make anything less crazy, but there is a tommy gun involved.
Online
#2 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -

That game had the best twist at the end. 

#3 Posted by Sarumarine (2243 posts) -
@The_Laughing_Man: Yeah! Great ending. I loved it. The lead up was also spectacular, giving you some insight on a bunch of places you visited earlier.
Online
#4 Posted by Chibi_Kaji (170 posts) -

I picked up for $14 years ago and never regretted it. The crazy story will made up for the gameplay. And That ending is still one of my favorites to this day.

#5 Posted by Dan64 (82 posts) -

That was a very interesting read. Thanks!

#6 Posted by JoyfullOFrockets (1177 posts) -

I stil have this lying around, had it for 3 years now, but for some reason it left me with a really bad impression and I didn't get really far. :(

#7 Posted by benjaebe (2783 posts) -

I loved Killer7- that game was off the fucking wall.
Perhaps I'll have to load it back up, it's been a long time since I played.

#8 Posted by WJist (313 posts) -

I love this game and have played through it several times. I don't understand entirely all the threads (particularly what happens to Harman's maid at the end), but it's awesome. Good pickup duder!

Online
#9 Posted by LordXavierBritish (6320 posts) -

This makes me want to play this copy of Killer 7 I never played.

#10 Posted by MooseyMcMan (11020 posts) -

Man, now I need to re-play that game...Especially since I never quite understood what the hell was happening. 

Moderator
#11 Posted by Mystyr_E (1190 posts) -

my favorite thing was playing as Coyote and nailing critical hits one after another  
 
"......you're fucked, you're fucked, you're fucked"

#12 Posted by DonChipotle (2760 posts) -

Killer7 is legit my favorite video game. I play through it once a year. 
 
 
And I'm still not sure I get it. 
 
 
Also, fantastic music.

Online
#13 Posted by thegoldencat7 (1497 posts) -

It was certainly unique, and playing through it was a far more memorable experience than you get with most games. It all depends on your tolerance for balls-to-the-wall insanity. I don't necessarily agree with your comment about repeated playthroughs. You do unlock that Killer 8 NG+ thing but invisible weakpoints just made it tedious and unplayable to me.
#14 Posted by Sarumarine (2243 posts) -
@thegoldencat7: 
Yeah... invisible weak points does suck. You can still get blood by shooting limbs and getting head shots. Plus, the extra character is kinda cool. I was disappointed how you couldn't upgrade him though. Maybe it would be a stretch to say you could play through Killer8 a bunch of times, but I could do it with the regular game.
Online
#15 Posted by buft (3317 posts) -

i hardly remember thisgame, i recall playing it a friends house and then when it was my birthday choosing XIII instead of this, what a mistake!

#16 Edited by BoringK (267 posts) -

I just finished Killer7 today. What a great, wacky piece of work. I'd love to see an HD version, maybe with some minor gameplay tweaks to make it a bit more user-friendly.
 
Did some of the story elements remind anyone else of the X-Men? Wheelchair-bound leader, a group of characters with diverse abilities...plus the scenes of Harman and Kun Lan playing chess. Maybe that just comes from having played through the game around the same time that First Class came out.

#17 Edited by yyninja (59 posts) -

Just finished my run through of Killer 7. Ending was cool, but the gameplay was awful and controls were clunky. Anyone who went through the Ayame Blackburn boss knows what I mean. 

Anyway I'm glad to have finished the game.

#18 Posted by Danteveli (1186 posts) -

Story is just bonkers but thats what makes it so goog. Wish we had way more games like that. Plus re-release now could be good decision. I could see the game on Wii or Move wiyhout many changes. Even graphic style could hold up nowdays.

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