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kill.switch PC CD-ROM

Published by Hip Games (LSP)
Developed by Namco (PC version by The Bitmap Brothers)
Released - Out Now
Price : £9.99

Not long ago we looked at kill.switch for the PlayStation 2. Kill.switch is the latest military style shooter from Namco that attempts to add something different to the usual third-person shooter genre. From the screenshots it doesn't look anything out of the ordinary but it's not until you begin playing that you realise what we have here is not quite what we are used to from this kind of game. What's so different about it you ask? Well the main focus in the game is to skillfully use all the cover available to you whilst taking out the enemies. To help you with this the game has various stealth moves that make the most of your cover. This review looks at the PC version of the game which as it turns out is not as deaf gamer friendly as the PlayStation 2 version was.

The game itself contains six war-themed missions that are comprised of up to 18 levels. To begin with though you'll have a tutorial that will show you how to make the most of the stealth moves. Essentially stealth moves are performed using the C key. What stealth move is used depends on what your situation is. If up against a wall, next to a corner, pressing the C key will allow you to safely peak around the corner and take a shot at the enemy. Whilst crouched by a wall you'll be able to use the rather hit 'n' miss blindfire move that allows you to put the gun over your head and fire at the enemies. The blindfire move is useful but wasteful when it comes to ammo and it should only be used when you trying to thin the numbers of the approaching enemies. The missions themselves are OK and fairly enjoyable but they didn't really offer any memorable moments and although the game has two difficulty modes it's unlikely you'll want to play through again after finishing it the first time.

Of course the big question with any game of this type is the quality of the enemy AI. In kill.switch the quality is a bit mixed. There are times when you will take out an enemy and then another enemy, who theoretically must have seen the first enemy be shot down, will walk straight into your line of fire without attempting to take cover. At other times the enemies will make excellent use of cover and will shoot and move as you would expect them to. You'll experience this mix of behaviour as you play through the game and the advantage is that at least it keeps you on your toes as you never know what to expect. I was disappointed to see that the damage modeling in the game is rather poor. Several times I had an enemy shooting at me from behind an armchair. Of course in real life you'd just shoot the chair and the bullet would pass through, however it didn't even damage the chair, which is very disappointing.

Visually speaking the game is perhaps best described as OK. The buildings, character modes and textures etc. improve upon those in the PlayStation 2 version but they are nothing special in comparison to other PC titles. The character animations are quite good though, particularly of the character you control when the various stealth moves, such as blindfire, are used. In fact some of the moves are more like what you would expect from a game such as Metal Gear Solid rather than from a third-person shooter. The game only requires a GeForce 2 level graphics card and unlike the PlayStation 2 version the frame rate remains constant and doesn't take a dive when the action gets hectic. The PC version allows for resolutions up to 1024x768, which makes everything look sharper than it was on the PlayStation 2 version.

Where kill.switch for PlayStation 2 was mostly OK for deaf gamers, the same cannot be said for the PC version of the game. For some reason this time around the subtitles have been removed. Why this was done is a mystery and just doesn't make any sense. As a result the cutscenes are not subtitled and all conversations and enemy conversations are not shown in text. Even the tutorial has been stripped of text and now you only get the bare basics, which is a shame. Objectives are temporarily shown on screen when you get them but there is no way of recalling them. This shouldn't cause much of a problem though as it's usually straightforward what you have to do. Red arrow heads show you from which direction an enemy is firing toward you if they are unsighted and this can help a little but it doesn't quite make up for the lack of subtitles.

I have mixed emotions about this version of kill.switch. In truth it's a better version of the game both graphically and in terms of control as it's much more comfortable with the keyboard and mouse arrangement that the PC has (although a gamepad can be configured for use if you want to do so). However it's a lot less deaf gamer friendly and deaf gamers are advised to choose the PlayStation 2 version of the game as it's more suitable. However, the PC version has arrived at a superb price (just £9.99) so if you're on a tight budget or the PlayStation 2 version isn't an option then it's still possible to play the game. You just won't be able to follow the games story.

Overall Game Rating: 5.0/10
The PC version of kill.switch offers better graphics and a smoother experience (in terms of frame rate) but unfortunately the subtitles have been removed and this outweighs the other advantages.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Unlike the PlayStation 2 version,
it isn't subtitled.