Genre : Action
Release Date: October 29, 2003
It's easy to think of Namco as the "Tekken guys," or the people who make Soul Calibur. Those are their most visible and notorious projects, aside from maybe Time Crisis. It's easy (at least for me) to forget that Namco is also the development house that brought us Ridge Racer, Dead to Rights, and Ninja Assault, as well as the last several thousand Pac-Man games.
A good example of this is kill.switch, an entry into the thriving tactical-action genre. As… um… some guy with a bunch of guns, you are called upon to skulk into various locations and shoot quite a few people, who, I'm sure, deserve it. I don't know. I'm sure there's a story here, but it's not in this build.
What is in this build, on the other hand, is plenty of action. Even in this early build, the animation is smooth and the combat, once it starts, doesn't let up for a second. Unlike other games, your enemies in kill.switch are pretty well-trained; they'll yell warnings to each other, dive behind cover, and try to keep you pinned down with suppressive fire.
Therefore, it's up to you to avoid contact with the enemy for as long as possible, whittling down the odds until you can force a confrontation on your terms. This is less a stealth-based action game than it is an action game with the option of stealth; while you can sneak with the best of 'em in kill.switch, the lack of silenced weaponry, or, really, any combat option besides full-auto kill-'em-all-twice mode places this game solidly into the category of third-person shooter.
I spent most of the demo creeping around corners and peeking through windows, looking for a chance to put a bullet into some unsuspecting ambusher's head with my trusty sniper rifle. When the enemy was confused and running around frantically, I burst in through the doors with my shotgun and wrecked shop, and let me tell you, when the bullets start flying in this game, they don't let up. The environment reacts to getting shot by fragmenting, creating remarkably realistic-looking clouds of dust and shrapnel. The effect of that particular visual is hard to describe, aside from "awesome."
You get a pretty solid arsenal to play with in kill.switch. That crowd favorite, the AK-47, puts in an appearance, as do a bolt-action sniper rifle with a nice smooth zoom, an M-16 with underslung grenade launcher, a tactical shotgun, and, of course, grenades. You've got your standard frag grenades here, along with flash-bangs (which detonate with a screen-clearing burst of white that'll blind anyone looking at it—including you), and claymore mines that stick to walls. Running away from a few enemies while planting a claymore, then watching them fly past you as the grenade detonates, is one of the (many) reasons to play video games.
kill.switch seems pretty neatly situated between two currently-popular subgenres. It's not as realistic as Ghost Recon, but it lacks any self-consciously cinematic gameplay elements, a la Max Payne or BloodRayne. It'll be available in October and you better be ready for it!
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