GZ Interview: Namcos kill.switch ups the ante on shooters; brings new play mechanics to the scene

Namco’s “kill.switch”
ups the ante on shooters; brings new play mechanics to the scene

by

Louis Bedigian

 

You’ve heard the
name.  You’ve seen the shots.  Now get all of the thrilling details on Namco’s
kill-or-be-killed adventure, kill.switch.

 

Through the hallway, up the
stairs and into my bedroom lingered a scent that was anything but pleasant. 
This scent was quite potent, packing too much power to be ignored.

 

Hastily, I ran down the
stairs to see what died.  No body, however, could be found.  No milk had been
left sitting on the table.  There were no signs of the stench that took me
from my wondrous, deep sleep.  Bright, white clouds filled the sky; the
background was painted blue.  Birds soared from above, and before I knew it, I
was soaring next to them.  Was it Heaven?  Who cares – it was a dream come
true.  At least it was until I woke up.  Then it was just a dream.

 

Dazed and disgruntled by my
abrupt awakening, I held my nose and went back upstairs.  Unexplainably, the
stench – which was still emitting from an unknown source – found its way
inside my closed nostrils.  Nothing could keep it out, it would seem.

 

That was the last straw.  It
was time to vent this horrible scent!

 

But how?  How would I defeat
an enemy who has no physical form?  How can I attack a predator who cannot be
seen?

 

Then it hit me.  We’ve all
heard the old saying – "fight foul with fire."  Flamethrower in hand, I went
back downstairs to see what was the cause of this atrocious intrusion.

 

This time my search ended at
the loading docks.  Frightened, I decided to leave the flamethrower outside
and opened the tightly shut door.  Fire is a powerful weapon, but it would
only fuel this foe’s ferocity.

 

Inside the blue-tiled room I
spotted a UPS box sitting on the commode.  I took a peak to see what was
inside.  The contents were quite shocking; no more than a thick binder
illustrating the plans for a potential video game.  The title page read:

 


Game:

Gardens and Dragons


Genre:

First-person planting

 

The
sender was unknown, but whoever it was should be locked up for life.  No game
idea that reeks this bad should ever go past the drawing board.

 

With a clothespin holding my nose shut, I
re-sealed the package and shipped it to the U.S. Military.  I hear they could
use a new weapon.

 

Bombs like that are enough
to cause some serious damage.  Lucky for us, there are still game developers
out there who care about developing new and unique game concepts.  One prime
example of that is kill.switch, a fast-paced, ultra-intriguing
shooter from Namco.  PlayStation 2 owners had the chance to play the game via
the demo disc included with Soul Calibur 2, but only a taste was
given.  The 10-minute demo was not nearly enough to hold us over until the
game’s release, so we turned to

Alvin Muolic, storywriter
and Associate Producer of the kill.switch for more on this
action-packed game.

kill.switch’s primary draw: the Offensive Cover System.  What’s it like?
How does it work?  Is it easy to cover and shoot?

 


Alvin Muolic:

The Offensive Cover System is one of the key components of the kill.switch
game play experience. Once you see the Offensive Cover System in action,
you’ll wonder why no one’s really done it before. And after using it, you’re
definitely going to want it in other third-person action games.

 

Taking cover is really
simple. All you need to do is face something that can be used as cover and
then hold down the “Take Cover” button. Firing your weapon from cover is as
simple as pushing or holding down the fire button. You’ll also find that
weapon recoil is lessened since you’re bracing up against something.

What is the purpose of blindfire?

 


AM:

You can choose to reveal a part of yourself and aim and fire accurately from
cover. With Blindfire, however, you’re not exposing yourself to enemy fire at
all. Like its name implies, Blindfire is highly inaccurate and takes up ammo,
but at times might be your best option. Blindfire might make the enemy
scatter, run for cover, or even take them down.

 

 

It’s moments like these
(where no shield objects are in sight)

when I have only one thing
to say: run!

 

 


Do all of the missions take
place in the desert-type areas seen in the screenshots?

 


AM:

Your missions take place throughout the globe, in hypothetical “hotspots” of
conflict. Aside from eliminating the enemy, you will have a number of
different objectives to accomplish for each mission. I can’t reveal the
objectives without spoiling the story, however, I can reveal that some of the
locations you will visit. The deserts of the Middle East, an oil rig somewhere
in the Caspian Sea Region, and a submarine base in North Korea are just some
of the locations your missions will take place.


How interactive are the game’s environments?

 


AM:

All of the game levels were made with the Offensive Cover System in mind, so
almost everything in the environment can be used as cover.

 


A demo of kill.switch was
included with the PS2 version Soul Calibur 2, demonstrating some of the game’s
coolest weapons.  What were they, and what other weapons will be available in
the final version?

 


AM:

The weapons you can use in the final game include the M4 assault rifle, M203
grenade launcher, AK47, M1 shotgun, MCRT300 sniper rifle, and M249 SAW, among
others. You can also utilize a different number of grenades, such as
fragmentation grenades and flash grenades (very useful in stunning and
blinding the enemy temporarily).

One way to dodge fire is by jumping into a roll.  What other ways are
there?

 


AM:

As you mentioned, the evasive dive can be used to hopefully get yourself out
of a bad situation. However, we highly encourage players to not get themselves
into those situations simply by using cover! Running and gunning is a surefire
way to get you killed, and certainly not something that you’d do in real life.
In kill.switch, cover matters.

 

 

I see a lotta killin’, but
where does the “switch” come in?

There’s a lot of ammo-licious action going on in kill.switch, but I haven’t
noticed much blood.  Does that have anything to do with the game’s rating or
its target audience?

 


AM:

We wanted kill.switch to reach the widest audience possible, and a “T”-rating
was what we were shooting for (no pun intended). There’s a lot you can and
can’t do in the realm of a “T”-rating, and blood within the context of our
game play was one of them.

…Just when you think the coast is clear, BAM! – an enemy shoots from an
unseen location.  Are sneak attacks a common occurrence in the game?

 


AM:

Not at all! In kill.switch, for the most part, you have the element of
surprise. We made a conscious effort not to resort to what one might
consider “cheap” tactics. Enemy reinforcements will not suddenly appear behind
you. As long as you’re paying attention, you will definitely see and
hear
where the enemies are coming from.


How should players deal with situations like the one described above?

 


AM:

Make sure to clear out an area before moving on ahead. Rushing by an enemy
won’t do you any good because they’ll hunt and track you down!


 


Why does the game cut out
like a broken camcorder when you die?

 


AM:

Why that happens is all a part of the storyline. We couldn’t say anything
about it without spoiling it for everybody.

 

 

Details on this game’s plot
are scarce,

but I’m sure this screenshot
brings a few thoughts to mind.

 


kill.switch promises to have an engaging storyline.  Are you able to reveal
anything about it?  Even a hint would be greatly appreciated.

 


AM:

Being the writer behind it, sure, I can reveal everything! But that’s not what
we want to do. We haven’t revealed much about the storyline because we don’t
want to spoil someone’s first time experience playing through the game. Every
little detail in the story, from its plot, to what the characters are named,
and even the titles of the levels are things that I would constitute as being
spoilers. Having had several games and films major plot points and twists
spoiled for me over the years inspired me to make sure that those that play
kill.switch for the first time don’t suffer the same fate. A little mystery is
good for everyone, isn’t it?

 

In developing kill.switch,
we wanted to do something a bit different with the game play compared to what
else had already been done before, hence the Offensive Cover System, Blindfire,
and killer A.I., among other things. The story had to be different and unique
as well.  It’s definitely not what you think.

 

I will say this much: one of
the principal themes behind kill.switch is deception. Take that as you will 🙂

Will the Xbox and PS2 versions ship simultaneously?

 


AM:

That’s the plan. Look for kill.switch in late October of this year.

We most certainly will!


 


Thank you for your time.