Videogame Reviews Killer is Dead

Published on September 1st, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley

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Killer is Dead

Marketed to appeal to fans of Suda 51’s cult favourite, Killer 7, the new game by Grasshopper Manufacture, Killer is Dead isn’t actually directed by the company head, but by Hideyuki Shin, a former Konami employee who has never been in the director’s chair before. A bit of an underhanded move in order to shift copies to be honest.
Killer is Dead is by no means a Killer 7 spiritual sequel and very little of the game feels informed by it, the only common characteristics being that it is also heavily stylised and features assassins. But then so do most of Suda’s games for that matter.

Killer is Dead follows Mondo Zappa, a man with no memory of his past and how he came to be in possession of a strange metal arm. He joins an assassination company which deals in executing monsters and bad guys and is funded via its own clients and government subsidies. The name of Mondo echoes of an earlier character by Suda in the game Flower, Sun & Rain on the DS/PS2, who also sported a suit and similar looks, however this guy apparently has nothing to do with him. He does also come with baggage however, but instead of a suitcase, he comes with a stereotypical annoying girl called Mika, whose only input in the game is to revive Mondo when he dies and get kidnapped.

I suppose it’s really pointless talking about sexism at all in this game, it’s rife with it. In fact, there is not a single female character which isn’t not only heavily sexualised, but also completely objectified and advocating negative stereotypes at every given opportunity. This is without even playing the “Gigolo Mode” in the game.

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The game is set into episodes, of which there are 12 and each features a level and a boss at the end. It is an action game in the style of Metal Gear Rising, but if Raiden was glued to the ground. Attacks and combos are all one button, with heavy attacks on another. You can block and dodge and if you do it just before being hit, you can get extra hits on enemies. The sub-weapon is the arm, which Mondo uses as a gun with blood as ammo… somehow. You can get more sub-weapons, but in order to do that, you have to do the Gigolo Mode. The skills, subweapons and passive abilities can all be upgraded by trading in crystals earned through killing enemies.

When I picked up the game I figured that the extra Gigolo Mode would be entirely optional. Unfortunately, although it is optional, the guns that are gained through doing it are incredibly helpful for the story mode and defeating enemies. Gigolo mode involves wooing ladies into liking you enough to give you guns. The aim is to seduce them and check them out, without them noticing you are doing so, although they know that you are checking them out and actually like it. It’s all very confusing and completely disgusting. People moan about Dragon’s Crown and the busty Sorceress, but it is only visually an offence if any, this however is demeaning to women and is endorsing rape culture, by saying that all women have no purpose than to be the objects of men and they enjoy being this, by bringing upon themselves.

I did make one attempt at Gigolo mode, however in order to complete the sexist circle, you must present the lady with a good enough gift for them to care about you enough (fantastic!) and I bought this woman a gem necklace, which apparently wasn’t good enough.

Morality aside, the game suffers from a number of defects, problems and just plain annoyances, most of which occur within the initial ten minutes of turning the game on. Loading screens are frequent, the game crashes, terrible hubworld, but the first noticeable issue, is the cutscene at the beginning of the game which shows Mondo’s shadow dancing on the wall, this is not the right generation to hinge a scene on a shadow, it looked blocky as hell.

killer is dead fan edition

The first segment of the game has Mondo walking excruciatingly slowly towards a target while telling you the buttons to simply move and turn the camera, which is completely unnecessary, but at least the tutorial is going to be thorough right? No, of course not, because the second the game starts throwing enemies at you, text boxes start turning up with the buttons on, completely counter to the show n’ tell method being used a little earlier.

The whole game has awful screentear, I was playing on a PS3, which is quite unusual as usually Xbox games have screentear from lacking V-sync but do have anti-aliasing which softens  sharp edges,  while PS3 games  are the opposite. I haven’t been able to hear what the Xbox 360 version plays like so far.

The story is also complete bollocks. Suda is known for offbeat stories and unusual characters, but in this it’s all very inconsequential and random. We don’t know anything about the characters and what we do learn feels rather pointless, there’s one point where the characters talk about someone being on the dark side of the moon, despite such a thing not even existing. Without context, this shows the lack of care and attention the devs afforded on this game, not only in programming but also story and game design. Speaking of which, the story is quite counter to the game flow, which is formulaic and numbingly linear.  There’s a few particular levels centered around dream sequences which are the worst, I spent the entire time not paying much attention as there was lots of locked-to-walking segments.

It’s not all bad though. The dream segment did spawn the second of only two examples of second-person gameplay that I know of, the first of which is Forbidden Siren’s sight-jacking ability. 2nd person gameplay involves seeing the playable character through the eyes of a non-playable character. This was refreshing, along with the  fast-paced gamplay, that albeit simple, was enjoyable and addictive. The character’s were at their best when breaking the fourth wall, and everything seemed to make a lot more sense when I imagined that Mondo was Keanu Reeves doing his usual bad act in an action film. He even sounds and looks exactly like him.

Overall, the game despite its flaws was a bit of fun, perhaps fans of Suda 51 will find more to their liking here, but it’s not altogether awful for people who aren’t either. It deserves it’s 6-7/10, but then, I’m not about to start endorsing numerical value systems for the sake of this game. Also, what happened to the fecking unicorn in the trailer?

Keanu Reeves Mondo Zappa

Excellent!

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