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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
7.7
Visuals
8.0
Audio
7.5
Gameplay
8.0
Features
7.0
Replay
6.5
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Namco
DEVELOPER:
Namco
GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
October 28, 2003
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
kill.switch

 Written by Leigh Culpin  on June 16, 2004

Full Review: Killing? Switching? Something like that anyway?


Originally released for the PS2, kill.switch presents us with an exceptionally arcade-like shooter experience with your typical arcade-like story, some well designed gameplay and a large dose of action. Not without its flaws, kill.switch is certainly something to be sought after by arcade action fans as well as those looking for some mindless and pretty cinematic fun.


The game's main mechanic is based on a third person fire-from-cover system, which allows you to hugs walls, rocks barrels and boxes to avoid being riddled with holes. You can peek out from corners, over railings, and even use a blind fire spray for a less accurate and less dangerous assault on the seemingly non-stop wave of enemies. Anyone who has played the Time Splitters games at the arcade (where you have to press a pedal to jump out from behind cover) knows that this creates high-tension and fast paced action, with a real movie-quality to boot. The left trigger is your "sneak" button, which will allow you to move in a crouching position or will automatically hug you against a wall or cover-providing object. The right trigger fires your main weapon, selected using the D-pad. Face buttons will provide you with dives, grenade throws, reloading and object interaction options and the thumbstick controls your character as one expects in such a game, there being one main difference ? your character really likes to be facing forward (since more often than not your enemies are in front of you, though they will attempt to flank you often enough) and somehow the controls feel like an arcade console.


You inherit the role of Bishop, a prototype super commando if you will, who has most unfortunately forgotten almost every aspect of his past. As the story (which is very arcade-like to say the least) unfolds, you'll come to understand the man who you control ? and, neatly enough, the men (and women) who control him. There's no team-based combat, there's no excessively large health meter, and there's no shortage of ammunition. You can pick up the weaponry and ammo of fallen enemies to aid you in your initially unnamed quest, and health packs are luckily fairly frequent throughout each rather short level, so despite the fact that Bishop really can't take too much of a beating, you shouldn't need to worry about having to restart levels too often. That's certainly a good thing, since each of the levels, while short, are also lacking in checkpoints, and the death sequence for Bishop takes significantly too long to carry out.


Enemies throughout the game are well designed and placed, giving the game a feel of being challenging and thusly rewarding to beat but generally never too entirely difficult. It can be frustrating at times, but the short bursts of action-packed levels help keep an even pace and get progressively harder but at just the right times. The straightforwardness of the game is one of the greatest things about it, meaning that even if you do get frustrated with the game, after a short break you can plop yourself right back into the game world without worry of missing a beat. Aiding to this cause are the thankfully short load times and the fact that the abbreviated and limited cutscenes play at the beginning of every level, even when you're loading a game.


The game's AI is pretty well designed for what the game is, often trying to flank you, pin you down from all angles and even using blind fire and grenades to try to flush you out. They also use numbers to their advantage, often coming at you in forces of between 2 and at times even nearly a dozen. This all adds to the cinematic and yet arcade-like quality of the game and maintains just the right level of pressure and stress.


Having said all of that, however, I do have two rather major qualms with the game ? the first (and less important of the two) is level design. While there are obviously going to be a lot of similarities throughout the environment, it gets to the point where it feels like you're running through the same level over and over. This is undoubtedly a side-effect of this type of game play but there really isn't quite enough reason to endure it all at once, meaning that this relatively short game actually isn't overly compelling to complete as fast as you'd think. My other issue is a rather severe one ? the lack of multiplayer. A Co-op mode alone wouldn't made this game ten times better than it already is, and it feels like a gaping hole left in the final package. Deathmatch and online play would've been nice for sure, but the co-op factor is such a gimme (or at least one would expect for such a game) that not having it almost makes the game feel like half of a grander project. It also knock's the game's replayability down a significant notch and really is the only thing that keeps this so far from being an instant classic.

Bottom Line
kill.switch isn't exactly revolutionary, but it does present console owners with a very arcade-like game which is certainly full of many merits. Lacking really only in level originality and more importantly multiplayer support, as is it's a game worthy of the attention of most any action fanatic and especially those who are fans of games such as Time Splitters.


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