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kill.switch PlayStation 2

Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Namco Hometek Inc.
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99

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. So 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.

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 L1 button. What stealth move is used depends on what your situation is. If up against a wall, next to a corner, pressing the L1 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 middle of the road for the PlayStation 2 with the buildings, character modes and textures etc. simply being what you would expect and nothing special. 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 what you would expect from a game such as Metal Gear Solid rather than from a third-person shooter. It's rather disappointing to see that the frame rate dips on numerous occasions. It doesn't spoil the game but it's a bit surprising to see especially as the graphics aren't really pushing the PlayStation 2. The game also has a 16:9 widescreen option, which is good news for those of you with widescreen televisions.

Kill.switch, for the most part is OK for deaf gamers. As you would expect without the ability to hear the ambient sounds, and those enemies who are around the corner and out of sight, it's a little trickier for deaf gamers but not overly so. The save points are not too far apart either so there isn't a great deal of frustration from having to backtrack too much. Subtitles can be enabled in the options menu and this is great to see but it would have been good to have seen the text on some kind of dark overlay to make the text stand out. It would have also been good to have displayed the character's name next to the subtitles (or have colour coded subtitles) because it's not always easy to work out who is saying what. You can recall your objectives at any time by pressing the select button.

When you take everything into consideration kill.switch is an OK game that could have been much better. The levels could have done with being more interesting and varied. The game length is also a sore point as it will only take around eight hours at the most to complete and with no replay value it doesn't really equal good value for money. Still the game encourages you to use cover more appropriately than many games out there and some of the stealth moves certainly make the game feel unique. There's definitely something here to work with should a sequel be created.

Overall Game Rating: 6.8/10
Good to see a game that makes you use intelligent use of cover but the game could do with many improvements to make it something special.

Deaf Gamers comment:
The game is subtitled but the text is not always easy to see.