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Yet at the same time there’s something in the game mechanic that is – without doubt – fundamentally broken. You can get used to the set paths and learn to work around the painfully slow reload times that some characters have been saddled with, but when the Heavens Smiles seem to respawn constantly; when they can be on top of you before you’ve even had a chance to turn, scan and target; when multiple goons gang up and blast you one after another before you get a chance to get back on your feet; then Killer 7 can get really, really aggravating. The fact that you’re rooted to the spot while aiming hardly helps, and there are times when you’d kill for regular third-person action game controls so you could just scoot out of the way or take a shot on the run. We know that this way allows the developers to control the point of view, the visual style and the flow and pacing of the game, but wouldn’t it be nice to have something we could actually play?
Some small recompense is meant to come in the person of Garcian Smith, who can be sent out to retrieve fallen assassins and return them to life back at base. I guess it’s a change from the old checkpoint and save/reload routines – and save points, staffed by Harman’s schizophrenic nurse, are scattered fairly widely – but, still, it’s also a bit of a chore. Die, come back as Garcian, retrace steps to point of death, recover killer, resurrect killer, return to scene of crime…., I’m sorry, but who thought this was fun?
And it’s this sort of thing that stops me fully recommending – even enjoying – the game. In so many ways, Killer 7 resembles a lot of classic arthouse movies. Like Deserto Rosso, Last Year at Marienbad or Pierrot Le Fou, there’s something compelling in the style and engaging or provocative in the content, but while you can’t get it out of your brain, you also can’t really bring yourself to love it. It’s not so much a love or hate game, more a love AND hate game. Perhaps that’s the weirdest thing about it. Well, actually, with this one, maybe not.
An artistic triumph; a gameplay disaster; a simple puzzle that’s strangely hard to solve; a 3D shooter with a broken leg and a gammy eye; Killer 7 is all these things and more.