Killer 7 review

We try to fathom Capcom's magnificently bizarre schizophrenic thriller...

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With so much of this year's E3 being taken up by that multi-format double-act of Smoke and Mirrors, and with so many bids being put in on the next-gen limelight, it's apt to think about who occupies that spotlight.

And it's also apt to think that it will be Capcom, thanks to the high points of its output over the past year. And yet, the developer has further cards up its sleeve - such as the wild Killer 7.

Gunplay is at the game's heart. Confrontations take place against clusters of ghoulish terrorists - walking bombs who come in a hideous range of shapes, sizes and weak spots - with the player flicking the C-stick to reload their weapon.

There's a fair amount of strategy to be savoured, both through the range of personalities, their unique styles of attack and the surreal menageries of enemies they face, but it's one that demands to be played well, or else it sags into the realm of frustration and repetition.

Its opening mission is a litmus test that leads to deep satisfaction for those who gel with its sharp shooting confrontations and its magnificent, uncompromising look. But it's also a game where style and substance are hard to separate, and experiencing it may well involve treading a thin line between admiration and enjoyment.

A lock-on is available for those players who don't want to approach the fray with an eye for accuracy and a thumb for steely nerve, but it's only so long before the game demands you approach battles coolly. Like Psychonauts, its play may sometimes feel in danger of jading, but it's buffered immeasurably by its immense persona.

It's a game rife with accomplished sound design, both in its music - which effortlessly switches through a spectrum of moods - and its effects. And it's difficult to shake the sensation that Killer 7 is an important production, paving the way for future creative leeway if nothing else.

It's also a game whose characters and storylines are far more engaging and confrontational than any number of big-balled third-person grit-'em-ups, presenting subjects like domestic abuse, politics and grisly execution without getting bogged down in them.

It will be seen by some as refreshing, well-pitched lunacy, a tongue-in-cheek ride whose appeal arguably goes beyond its solid strengths as a purely out-and-out videogame.

And whether that comes across as a warning or a blessing is key to whether Killer 7 is worth your time.

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Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)