Kill.switchReviewed By: Phil Rownd (Boyward)
VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER
When one of James Bond's old nemeses wanted to cause World War III, he put a satellite into space with the intention of shooting missiles at both the United States and the USSR, and hoping they would blame each other for the attacks. Somebody at Namco has been watching too many James Bond movies. Their third-person action game, Kill.switch, puts you in control of a soldier who controls the mind of another soldier whose mission is to break into international strongholds and frame someone else for it, causing World War III. Try to wrap your brain around THAT plot! Apply the duck-and-cover gameplay of the arcade game "Time Crisis 3", and you've got a twisted take on a rather generic genre.
Kill.switch's tagline is: "Take cover. Take aim. Take over."One gamer put it this way: "Instead of running out into the open like a guy wearing a deer outfit during hunting season, you are pitted to take cover behind any object you can find: A wall, pillar, desk, even a old broken down car." Using this cover, you can (a) blindly fire your gun in the enemy's general direction for suppression fire, (b) peek out and take an aimed shot, or (c) dive for better cover elsewhere. Meanwhile, your enemies are using the same tactics against you.
For players burned out on Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell's stealth-based gameplay, this is an action-packed blast of fresh air. On the other hand, players who play Kill.switch like they're an invincible Rambo will have a rude awakening. Every soldier is absolutely hazardous to your health because you can take only 2-3 bullets before you're dead. And if you are killed at any point during the mission you have to start over at the beginning of that mission. Adding to the challenge is the fact that there are no quick saves in Kill.switch. The bad thing about this is that missions seem a bit canned once you've memorized the enemies' positions. But the good easily outweighs the bad, because once you've abandoned your careless tactics and begin to make use of cover as bullets whiz past your ears, you're in for an intense and adrenalizing experience that gives Kill.switch a place of distinction among action shooters.
There are a few problems that keep Kill.switch from achieving classic status. First, there are moments when your targeting reticle is clearly lined up with an exposed enemy, the sight has turned red indicating contact, and yet shots fired fail to connect. Usually when this happen the enemy just stands there completely unaware that you're shooting at him, reminding you that Kill.switch is only a game, and an imperfect one at that.
Another problem comes when you realize that your enemies are so intensely driven by their desire to kill you that they will eventually abandon their cover and run into the open. Sometimes all you have to do is wait for them to lose patience and lapse into recklessness.>Graphics
Kill.switch offers up a nice but ordinary mix of war environments: urban desert, military base, submarine station… you've seen this all before in other similar games. But what's here looks very good, with exceptional lighting, subtle effects like dust blowing in the wind, and not-so-subtle effects like glass shattering from gunfire
Bishop, the main character, looks more detailed than Solid Snake, but not quite as defined as Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell. He animates beautifully, and you may be tempted to push the Dive button just to watch him roll along the ground forward, then backwards, then sideways, and forward again. His footsteps don't quite line up with the frame rate, which is distracting if you're bothered by this sort of thing, but otherwise Bishops looks fantastic. The enemies you face look fairly generic, with animations ranging from convincing to completely unnatural. The best animations occur when a soldier is hit and he reacts to the placement of the bullet before going down. The worst animations show up when he's running for cover and he's not quite sure where he should settle down, so he hunches over and takes jerky steps back and forth.
I did encounter one odd glitch where an enemy soldier's body was stuck inside of a wall and, while I couldn't hit him, he shot and killed me. Unfair.Sound
Turn the volume up for Kill.switch. A bass-heavy mix of rock, techno, and classical music heightens tension in a fashion similar to Hans Zimmer's “Black Hawk Down” soundtrack. Some tracks reminded me of the “The Matrix” music. Very exciting. Meanwhile, enemy soldiers frantically react to your movement with standard military phrases like, "Cover me, I'm going in!" and "Flank him! Flush him out!" In combat there's some repetition in the voiceovers because enemies lose their cool and turn into babbling idiots. Another problem with the AI's speech become evident when the lone soldier calls for covering fire from his comrades who aren't there. These guys are talking without thinking. Still, there is some fun to be had from the voice work. For example, when your enemies are unaware of your presence you might overhear something like this exchange between two soldiers… Soldier 1: "So what are you doing after your shift?" Soldier 2: "I'm going out to drink with the boys." Soldier 1: "How come you guys never invite me to come along?" Soldier 2: "Because you smell like dung. I'm not talking about ordinary dung. I'm talking about stinking, been-sitting-in-the-sun-all-day kind of dung. I mean, haven't you heard of a bath?" Some other amusing conversations take place if you're patient enough to eavesdrop, and since you're fighting in the Middle East and North Korea you'll hear a variety of dialects. The quality of voice acting ranges from fair to humorously lame. Bishop himself sounds a lot like his commander, though, which can be a little confusing because we don't know who's talking some of the time. The sound effects do a good job putting on the pressure, as bullets zing through the air before clanging into metal and wood. The shotgun sounds like a shotgun, and you can almost tell which assault rifle you're using just by the sound. Grenade explosions are deep and satisfying, and it all sounds extremely dangerous. Just for contrast, I muted the volume for an hour and the experience was significantly less immersive.Value
Kill.switch takes between 5-7 hours to finish on both normal and hard settings. There are no multiplayer options, and there is nothing to unlock. It's hard to recommend this at full price, but now that it's a budget title it's worth a look for those who can stomach the content…Violence
Kill.switch easily deserves its Teen rating given by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB). In one mission your superiors tell you to kill a general who stands unarmed before you and begs for mercy. Since you are supposed to be starting a war, none can be shown. When an enemy soldier dives to the ground and crawls away on his belly you can shoot him and watch as he rolls over onto his back, dead. When enemies are fatally shot there are a variety of death animations. Some bodies violently spin around from bullet impact, some fall to their knees before keeling over, and others go into a graceful dive. Kill.switch's dodges a Mature rating by eschewing decapitations and dismemberment. In fact, Kill.switch has no blood or gore at all, with the possible exception of a red substance on the top of some tables, but that could be last night's spaghetti sauce for all we know. The body count of any given mission is somewhere between 20-40, and those bodies eventually fade from view.Language
Kill.switch has been cited by the ESRB for “Strong Language.” The H-word and D-word are used frequently by all characters both in cutscenes and during gameplay. The S-word is spoken in the rare instance when an enemy realizes a grenade has landed at his feet. Sound can be turned way down, but you'll still have to listen to the cursing during cutscenes, which cannot be bypassed.
Mild. Cutscenes show Bishop's wife, who wears a tight, low-back dress, and apparently invites the player to follow her into the bedroom.Positive elements
None, actually. After all, you play the bad guy ordered to turn the world powers against each other and start another world war.Conclusion
The best thing about Kill.switch is what sensitive gamers will hate most. It places gamers in violent, intense shootouts with enemy soldiers, and it feels extremely dangerous. Foul language may persuade sensitive gamers to opt out of this one and take cover. But teens and adult gamers looking for wartime thrills may want to peek out for 7 hours and take a shot.
Year of Release—2003
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.