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E3 2013: Hands-On With Killer is Dead


Marcus Estrada

Suda 51 is a name that became known in the West primarily after the release of the stylish and gory Killer7 on GameCube and PS2. The cel-shaded graphics were used to great effect in the geopolitical thriller and made an impression on many, including myself.

 

Ever since then, I“ve been happy to play other Grasshopper Manufacture games but have never felt the way I did as with that first foray into Suda-ness.

 

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Killer is Dead doesn“t bring back that old feeling, but it seems far more like his older style than other, more recent diversions, such as the No More Heroes series. In the game, you play as Mondo Zappa, an assassin, who spends most of the game slicing things up. Despite his handsome appearance, he also seems to be rather hit or miss with wooing women.

 

The demo I played was specifically tailored to give a good taste of one chapter in Killer is Dead. Starting off on the level, I am immediately surrounded by enemies and must kill them all with my katana. This works very smoothly and there didn“t seem to be any issue with simple button mashing. Of course, you can also dodge which I found very useful as well. Enemies seem to always make you aware of their incoming strikes, making it easy to duck away at the last moment.

 

I was also able to harness some special abilities which took the form of Zappa either performing extra gory kills or professional wrestling moves. Yes, Suda“s love for suited men and wrestling moves are still present. Fights as a whole were very frantic and at times were hard to comprehend. This has often been the case with his more recent work though, where blood and gore complicate the visuals beyond recognition. Of course, even when they're impossible to discern, the graphics are still incredibly stylish.

 

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A slight bit of the story was shown as well, which focused around some sort of monstrosity that murdered a young woman for her “perfect” ears. This seems like a very Suda style storytelling device and one which many Western players appeared confounded by. It“s definitely weird, of course, and the rest of the story is probably far stranger. Of course, without context we can only speculate as to how odd it is. After that, I fought a boss who was pretty easy enough to take down without fear of death.

 

My experience on PS3 was just fine, but the 360 dev kit situated next to me was not. People who played that version were forced to deal with color bars on the screen, crashes, and moments where the game would simply not restart. I“m not sure why the 360 version is in such a poor state right now, but owners of both systems may be wary about where they purchase in case all these problems aren“t cleared up before release.

 

Playing Killer is Dead was fun, even if it tired my hands out from the copious swordplay required. This is a good thing, though, considering the recent Lollipop Chainsaw almost felt like a step backward in regards to modern, speedy attack controls. Judging from the story showcased, it“s safe to say that Killer is Dead will satisfy a specific audience when it launches this August.

 

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