Namco as a company publish a wide variety of games but their most successful always seem to come from the arcade genre. Games such as Ridge Racer, Soul Calibur etc have been around for a while in different names and iterations and gamers seemed to really catch on to the ideas Namco were trying to produce. This genre is exactly where Kill.Switch fits in. It's a run and gun, shoot anything that moves game which, unless you want nothing more, may leave you a little disappointed, especially at the full price point being asked for it.
Kill. Switch doesn't really have much of a storyline. You do come across a discovery a few missions into the game which shows just why our commando wants revenge. The world also finds itself on the brink of war once again, except rather then play the hero and stop a war like Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell, you are trying to create one and by shooting everyone in sight, you seem to do a pretty good job of it. You play a buffed up commando with a large arsenal of weapons and as the intro alluded, the job of the commando is to basically shoot anything that moves. Our commando however has some special moves up his sleeve, which are not only useful to him, but become a key to survival.
Kill.Switch is played at a third person perspective which has allowed to the developers to try something new with the genre, it's fifty/fifty whether it comes off though. Due to the insane amount of enemies you have to take on at the same time, cover becomes your key and you can exploit this to your advantage. As you move close to cover such as a crate you can slide up against it and blindly shoot around the corner taking enemies down, or throw grenades out to the same effect. However, you're accuracy is reduced somewhat when shooting blindly. Sometimes you will have to perform more tasks then just reach a location such as plant C4 bombs or unlock a door all the while taking down the wave upon wave of enemies which appear.
As you move around you will discover new moves that can be performed, and most of them are so unrealistic that Kill.Switch definitely gets placed in the arcade shooter genre. Moves such as ducking behind a crate and then putting the gun over the top to take down enemies, for example. It looks rather cool as do all the other moves but by the end of the first mission you will have used most of them and the shine begins to wear off quickly. We found occasionally early in the game it was better to just run and gun rather then try and use the cover, but further into the game cover becomes your best friend.
There is a few problems we have with the game. The first being the aiming system. There is no auto-aim in place and considering the amount of enemies featured this is almost a fatal flaw. You can be pushed up against a crate, trying to take down an enemy from afar whilst others sneak up on you. This leads into our next problem which is the difficulty of the game. There are two difficulty levels featured normal and hard and even on normal the game is quite a challenge primarily because of the lack of auto-aim. If you don't like games where you have to try and try again to move further on without any slack from the AI, then Kill.Switch is definitely not for you. On occasions there are a lot of tasks to perform in one section of a mission, if the commando dies you have to do them all again. It would have been nice for Namco to implement a much more forgiving checkpoint system. This is where some frustration can come out - not necessarily from dying but from the fact you have to do everything again. There are some other problems but they are more aesthetic then technical.
Right from the get go the game proves a decent challenge even for the most veteran gamer. You're thrown into an environment, taught a few of the moves and controls and from there the commando is pretty much on his own. The enemies aren't overly smart and the challenge comes from the number of them and sometimes their firepower. They will take evasive action from bullets and grenades flying towards them. With this in mind it is possible to use the grenades as a diversionary tactic because as they dive away from it (and thus avoiding most damage) you can take them down with your machine gun. When not looking at your target (ie. Using one of the special moves such as firing the gun blindly over a crate) it is much harder to take down targets even though the reticle is sitting on them and they are being pumped full of bullets. This inconsistency can be quite annoying and definitely reduces your want for using these special moves other then when the level design requires it. Disappointing considering these are meant to be the most unique aspects of the game.
You do have a variety of weapons to use against the enemy and you can pick up their weapons but its still a challenging game due to the lack of auto-aim. You begin with a standard M4 rifle but along the way you will be able to use grenades, and also pick up enemy weapons such as the AK47 rifle. Unlike many other arcade shooters, ammunition for your preferred gun is a commodity you can't afford to waste. Occasionally we found ourselves stuck without ammunition and enemies closing in on us. When this occurs you have problems because the commando appears to have no hand to hand combat moves what so ever so he becomes a sitting duck when the clip is empty. The shield/health system almost mimics Halo from the Xbox. If you don't get shot for a period of time, your health will regenerate up to a certain point, making cover an even more useful tool.
One other problem we have with the game is the graphics. You will find yourself in environments such as a desert city, an oil rig and a nuclear facility. Whilst the commando himself is highly detailed as are most of the enemies, occasionally the game resembles an impressive PSone game more then a Playstation 2 title. There are some nice graphical moments such as the second mission where you are on a oil rig with rain tumbling down but there is nothing really to write home about when it comes to the overall visuals. At times the game almost becomes unplayable due to a substantial loss in frame rate as well. The animations of the commando himself during his special moves are quite impressive but as mentioned before they do become repetitive. The enemies do feature positional damage and have different death animations to go with this. This can also help determine whether an enemy is dead, or stumbling around trying to find help.
Kill. Switch is a game that many people will enjoy but the hardcore section of the gaming community may have expected more from it. If you're after a game where the rules are almost as basic as shoot anything that moves then Kill.Switch will appeal to you, but for a more in depth storyline and military experience, its best to look elsewhere. The game can be fun in small doses, but does become repetitive quite quickly.
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