With so many games nowadays wearing ambition like a crown of thorns, a single-minded focus on just one core idea is as good as a change. And so it is with kill.switch: you take cover behind some crates or a corner, enemies scuttle in from the distance taking up their own defensive positions, and a stuttered firefight ensues. And repeat. It's real-Time Crisis.
Things are initially good. Bullets are pinpoint, and aiming is smooth and accurate. The Blindfire option is neat, as is the Halo-esque health system that forces you to seek cover the moment you come under attack. Just as the levels in Manhunt are honeycombs of light and shadow, kill.switch's stages are Lego stacks of crates and corners, a playground of strategic cowardice. Anything wider than your legs or higher than your hips can be used to hide behind while you consider what to shoot next, allowing you to battle as you see fit.
The opening section of an early level is a motif for the entire game. You enter a warehouse filled with uneven rows of crates, enemies pour in, and you pop up when the opportunity arises to take each one out with a considered burst of gunfire, then move on to the next crate-filled warehouse. And that's kill.switch's biggest problem. It seems churlish to be criticising a game's repetition when the review opened with praise for single-minded focus, but it can't be helped. You know how Halo is supposedly the same 30 seconds of gameplay repeated over and over? Well, kill.switch is the same two seconds repeated ad infinitum. It doesn't get any more frantic as the game progresses, it's just easier to die.
Your fragility, coupled with the absence of restart points, can bite during the later levels where it's all too easy to be blindsided by a cunning/lucky enemy grunt, or pulped by an unannounced grenade. Stationary guns in particular are a millisecond massacre, the equivalent of Conflict: Desert Storm's tanks, and straying out in the open in front of one is a death sentence.
For once, it's a game that can be excused its blocky, similar environments. However, with huge gun lust driving the show, it's a shame that there's very little damage and destruction dealt out to the objects in the levels. When the coast has cleared, it's still a commendably brazen and unfussy shooter, featuring one continuous dialogue of throwaway gunfire and nothing else.
kill.switch on PS2 will hit the shops on 20 February