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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Namco
DEVELOPER:
Namco
GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
October 28, 2003
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
kill.switch

 Written by Alex Fitzgerald  on July 17, 2003

First Impressions: How can a game called kill.switch have not one song from the band Killswitch Engage? It just isn't right I tell ya?


One of the greatest experiences I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing was playing paintball. From the outset, paintball seems pretty stupid. I mean, there's just something that seems blatantly stupid about grown men running around shooting paint off at one another pretending that their friends are Charlies and their weenie paint gun is an M-16. Once you get into the game though you understand what's so appealing about it. A good paintball game can be as tense and adrenaline pumping as real war, without all those messy casualties and fat war pigs.

As I went on with my life I started to get into another type of war simulation known as first person shooters or as we lazy, abbreviate-everything game journalists call them, ?FPS's.? One day I was thinking and I started dwelling on what was different between paintball games and FPS games (not really, I'm a teenager so most of my thoughts are fueled by testosterone, but just work with me here?)

One of the main differences I found is that in paintball you have to worry about finding cover constantly, where in most traditional FPS titles you can just run in like Rambo and stuff the barrel of your revolver/machinegun/banana right into the guy's face. Some games, like Rainbow Six, have tried to force you to get cover often with features like one-hit-kills but those games often wear down on you really quick. A new game though from Namco called kill.switch promises to capture the best of both run-and-gun FPS games and strategic titles.

The game plans to take you directly to the battle zone by dropping in you in some of the most dangerous places on the planet, such as North Korea, Middle East, and the Caspian Sea. In these locales you will experience the games shooter gameplay that features more than just a few gimmicks. One of these gimmicks is the player's ability to use objects in the environment while they're fighting. Unlike other games, where only things like walls are used for cover, in kill.switch you will use everything from tire stacks and cars to get some shelter from the bullet rain.

You'll need to grab whatever cover you can to, because the soldiers you will be fighting will be tough enough to beat as it is. Enemies will run from danger and grab cover often, making it so that you will have to use a little bit more brain power in your attacks than with most traditional shooters. Still though, in the builds presented so far, there seems to be a stray soldier every now and then that doesn't seem to care about whether he lives or dies, standing right in front of you as you blast him to hell. Don't fret though ? Namco still has plenty of time to fix this before kill.switch's release.

To combat these tough enemies Namco has given you one more neat option to help you ? blind fire. What's blind fire you ask? Remember all those John Woo movies you watched a long time ago where Chow Yun Fat would flip a desk over and put his gun up and just start firing madly while keeping his head behind the desk? Yeah, it's like that. You get behind something, you point your gun out, and fire without putting your head out as well. As you can imagine, this makes you lose some accuracy, but this also saves you a lot of the risk that goes into firing madly at a bunch of enemies. With these gameplay components added to the mix kill.switch feels very arcade-like in nature. Namco has even gone the extra mile to tweak a few gameplay components within the game to make the game even more arcade-like. Targeting has been designed to be a piece of cake, featuring a targeting reticule similar to games like Halo and Return to Castle Wolfenstein in that it will light up when pointed at an enemy. Also, the health meters within the game are like Halo's and Enter The Matrix's, in that they refill automatically after a while, allowing gamers to worry more about disposing of their virtual enemies than mending their virtual forms.

The graphics that display all of this virtual carnage also look quite nice, all though they're nothing that will drop your jaw. While the detailed environments, creative particle effects, and vision loss effects are nice, its hard to get past the rough nature and general weak texturing that is plaguing the game's graphics as of now. The game's audio is all sounding a bit rough, but it also shows a lot of promise. The gunfire noises that are spat out of your gun and the gruesome realistic screams that they create sound great and really create a ?war is hell? atmosphere for gamers.

Final Thoughts
Kill.switch has had a very rough outing so far. People were immediately skeptical of the game when the team behind Pac-Man World announced their next title would be a bloody shooter. Things didn't get better when E3 goers finally got a shot to play the game, only to find out that it was a lot harder to control than it looked in previously shown gameplay movies. Now that we've had a closer look at the title though I think its safe to say that we have no reason to fear that kill.switch will be an absolute disaster when it comes out this October. As long as Namco's development team can polish up the graphics and work out a few more of the game's kinks, than we might have a real fun action title to play this Halloween


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