I had a chance to sit down for a kill.switch Q&A back in late July with Alvin Muolic, who at the time named himself as the Associate Producer. Looking at the credits in the back of the book it looks like he wrote the story of this game. Ever since that Q&A I have been pretty excited about this game. It sounded like a game that fit squarely in the middle between Metal Gear Solid and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, two games I really like. The addition of a lot of objects that would give you cover made it that much more enticing. So, has the final game lived up to my mindset? Yes and no, but I’ll get into that.
As you start off in kill.switch you will be awed by the graphics. The animation of Bishop (the main character’s name) is really cool as you go through the training mission. Then you get into the actual levels and you notice a sameness to the animations of the enemies, very little in the way of environment animation outside of the gunfire, a sameness in the objects you take cover behind (although they do bust off pieces when bullets hit them), etc.
What is good throughout the whole game are the shadows. The game was done correctly to know where the sun is coming from and the shadows go along with it. Problem is this has been done before and to a better degree in Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. The other cool thing is the recoil of the guns. If you choose to do a long burst of fire be ready to lose control of where you’re aiming. This game almost makes it a point to use short bursts of fire if you can. Things blow up very nicely as well, although surprisingly barrels that look like they may have something flammable in them do not blow up.
This game also supports 16:9 mode. I don’t have a TV capable of that, but I bet it would look rather cool.
The music is nothing to write home about and I found myself actually turning it down so I could hear the enemies and the gunfire so I knew where it was coming from. What this game does well is with the audio clues and when guns are blazing. This is not an powerful game in the audio department, but it does well with the sounds of the guns and the enemies talking.Control isn’t half bad in this game once you get used to it. Left analog moves you, right analog controls your turns and aim. L1 is used for covering behind an object, R1 is for firing your weapon, L2 is for switching weapons, R2 is for reloading and pushing in the right analog stick allows you to go into sniper mode. X button is for an evasive roll (can also do while crouching), Triangle is the action button and circle is to use your gun physically. Up and down on the D-pad is for changing between grenades while left and right is switching between weapons. Once I got used to the controls I felt I had the game down pretty well.
Have you ever played the Time Crisis games? Pull that game out to a 3rd person view, add in semi-smart AI enemies and you have kill.switch. The feeling of this being like Time Crisis never left my mind and it’s too bad. This game does have some things over Time Crisis as well as the games it is sandwiched between (Metal Gear Solid and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell). The big one of course is the cover engine. In every “set” situation there are a number of things you can cover behind, whether standing or crouching. From the cover position (L1 to cover) you can do a number of things. Let’s say you’re on a long wall. You can move along the wall with the enemies firing at you, but not hitting you. You can then set up your shot, lean around the side or above the wall and shoot the enemy. You can also throw a grenade from your cover position and you can even do a “Blindfire” (where you just shoot without looking over or around the cover), which is less accurate than you looking at your enemy, but sometimes you get a good shot off.
The key to this game is looking at your surroundings as you enter into a new “set” in the level and take care to notice where enemies are coming from or remembering where enemies came from if you happen to have to repeat the level again. The cover objects are the most important thing and you will spend much of the game behind cover in order to take out the perps. Bishop has a variety of weapons to choose from, including many assault rifles, sniper guns and even shotguns. You also have 4 different grenades you can use. The key problem is that you are limited by the amount of ammo you have. This makes short shot bursts important because if you go firing off a long burst you may find yourself without ammo and have to get closer and more physical with the enemy. This is all quite cool…if the game wasn’t so short and boring.
Yeah, you heard that right. This game is super short once you know exactly where enemies come from and exactly what to do, much like the Time Crisis series. The story itself is boring as well. At the beginning Bishop is being controlled by a Controller through his neural chip in his brain. It’s kind of weird to be controlling someone who is controlled and I think that is the hook they are trying to grab you with. At the beginning it seems you are trying to start a war with different factions and that goes along with the fact that Bishop is being controlled initially. The cutscenes are okay, but I was never really grabbed by the story. I just wanted to go out and kill people because firing from cover was so cool. It’s too bad they were so secretive about the story before this game came out, but after seeing it in action I can understand why they kept a lid on it. This is a case where the gameplay in and of itself rises above the story that is portrayed.
This game has 15 levels and the supposed “innovative AI” is innovative the first time you meet them, but then you know how they move, where they move, etc. and it becomes a basic game of Simon (the light game). You can literally blow through this game in a few hours if you keep tabs on your ammo and make it through the levels. Lack of ammo is the biggest crutch to making this game seem longer than it is. Putting a Havok-like engine in this game and making the enemies smarter would have made the longevity greater.This game is great for a rental, but certainly not worth a buy. The game will take you little time to beat and there are no extras to speak of once you beat the game. Instead you are left with an open-ended ending that suggests we will see a sequel. I wonder if we truly will or not. A nice 2 player cooperative option would have been cool, ala Time Crisis, but no go. This is a good game, it could just be a bit longer.