By: Matt C. on November 20, 2003
I was looking forward to playing the full version of kill.switch ever since I tried out the brief demo that was included with Soul Calibur II. After playing so many stealth-based games this year, I found the demo to be a refreshing change of pace. Now that I have beaten kill.switch, I think the game falls short in some areas, but it still manages to provide a couple hours worth of enjoyment.
The funny thing about kill.switch's gameplay is that it is surprisingly similar to Namco's other shooting game, Time Crisis 3. In Time Crisis 3, you must pop-out from behind objects to shoot enemies and retreat back into hiding to reload or dodge incoming fire. In kill.switch, you must do exactly the same thing, as nearly every solid object in the environment can be used as cover (the developers call it the "Offensive Cover System"). Of course, as a third-person shooter, kill.switch offers a lot more freedom in your movement than Time Crisis 3.
Making your character take cover is an effortless process. Simply hold the L1 button while standing next to a wall or box, and he will use it as protection. From there, you can move along the wall or box using the left analog stick. After that, simply lean out or stand up when it is safe and use R1 to shoot.
Initially, the Offensive Cover System seems like an optional feature, but it doesn't take very long to realize that there is no way to progress in kill.switch without seeking shelter. This is one aspect that helps separate kill.switch from some other 3rd person shooters. If you run around with guns blazing out in the open, you'll get taken down rather quickly. Taking cover is even more important in the later missions, where only a couple of direct hits can take away all of your health. However, thanks to nanotechnology, your character can actually heal himself to a certain degree if you manage to avoid fire for a while.
In addition to using numerous assault rifles, shotguns, and sniper rifles -- kill.switch has four types of grenades, including sticky grenades and flash bangs. When pinned down in some areas, the grenades really come in handy.
One of kill.switch's main gimmicks is the ability to lay down blindfire. When hiding, your character will simply fire in one direction without looking. Blindfire is kind of cool, but it is rather useless in most cases. For starters, your accuracy is reduced so much that it is possible to waste 3 whole clips before actually hitting an enemy. Even if you do manage to hit an enemy, he'll probably still be alive. Needless to say, blindfire only works well if an enemy is 3 or 4 feet away.
kill.switch's "hide and gun" gameplay works surprisingly well, so it's a shame that there are a few major flaws that really hold the game back. First off, the mission objectives don't even have one ounce of originality in them. Basically, all you have to do is either place C4 on a few key locations, retrieve a couple keycards, or reach the end of the level before time runs out. Also, the game can be beaten in about six or seven hours (ten hours at the most if you're slow), and with no bonus features or unlockable content, most people will be reluctant to play through kill.switch a second time. Sadly, these problems could have been avoided.
On a positive note, the enemy AI isn't all that bad. Sure, they'll sometimes make bonehead mistakes by standing out in the open, but for the most part, enemies will take cover, toss grenades when needed to flush you out, use suppressive fire, and grab turrets to mow you down. And unlike some other games I've played recently, you can't just shoot them in the back and expect them to keep patrolling like nothing happened. A larger variety of different types of enemies would have been nice though.
I don't like to use this phrase, but kill.switch's graphics are like a mixed bag. Most levels are well designed, but some of them just look plain ugly -- especially the Middle Eastern stages. Perhaps it's just the color scheme? Anyway, most of the other levels don't look too shabby at all. For example, one mission takes place on an oil rig, and even though it doesn't even come close to tanker portion of Metal Gear Solid 2, the reflections on the wet ground and the lightning look very cool. The lighting effects also hold up well too. Too bad the animations aren't up to par with everything else. In addition, the beautiful cut-scenes also add some points to the overall visuals. Note: kill.switch supports progressive scan.
In my opinion, kill.switch's music soundtrack isn't anything to write home about, but the sound effects from each gun and the grenade explosions are certainly above average.
Despite being very short and offering very little replay value, I found kill.switch to be a very likable game. The Offensive Cover System could have turned out to be a mess, but it definitely works well in this game. Give it a try.
Official kill.switch Web Site