previews\ Jul 20, 2003 at 8:00 pm

kill.switch - PS2 - Preview

The soldier hugs the wall, sneaking to the corner and peering around it. Nothing. He stands and moves quickly, staying next to the wall. Another corner and the same procedure is followed. The next wall is lined with windows. He can hear them talking.

Crouching, he sneaks down to the middle. What he would not be able to see, the camera can. There are two enemy soldiers in a room to the right, a doorway in the middle. Other enemy soldiers are in the rooms beyond. Standing up, the good guy tosses in a grenade then moves quickly from the line of fire.

Bam! Scratch two enemy soldiers. That’s the good news; the bad news is the others know he is here.

kill.switch, from Namco, is not your ordinary shooter game. While titles work on the premise of pitting one man against numerous members of the opposing force, most are predicated on allowing him access to super weapons that wipe out those amassed against him quickly.

GameZone was thrust into the action and took up arms to give the Namco PS2 preview a look. The preview build was somewhat limited but what was there was enough to get a good idea of the direction this game is going.

Not kill.switch. You will actually have to be smart about how you attack and use what Namco is calling the Offensive Cover System. Yes, you actually have to find and use cover in this game. And the enemy AI is not stupid. The enemy will not just run at you and let you kill them. Oh, no, they find and use cover as well.

The game is played from the third-person perspective. There are six war-themed missions that are spread out over 18 different levels. Environments are standard maze-like mapboards (ranging in diversity from a Middle East desert to an underground submarine base), and you have to traverse from point A to point B, although in-between are a lot NPCs who would rather see you did not make it.

There is a large room beyond the hall, and at least four enemy soldiers are in it. At the moment they are filling up that hallway with machine gun fire. Peeking around a corner you can see the ones who have a view of the left side of the hall. You aim, squeeze off some rounds and feel the satisfaction of watching them drop. You can now maneuver up that side of the wall, feeling somewhat shielded from the other attackers.

What kill.switch manages that most have not is force the player to quickly take in a room and then instantly react to the surroundings by taking advantage of the cover there.

Graphically this game was very nicely done. The effects, sound and visual, were solid and the gameplay featured intelligent AI, while the controls were easy to figure out and use without a manual aid.

The game does still have some very unrealistic elements, and there information received, to date, fails to elaborate on the game concept or story, but what this preview build did demonstrate, time and again, was that shooters don’t have to be all action and no thought. This game is a thinking gamer’s shooter. Where you go and how you move there is as important as the weapons you use. While kill.switch will not redefine the genre graphically (though the graphical elements are nicely done), it will have an impact on the tactical side of the category.

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