To me, Killer 7 was an extremely underrated game. It never sold well and got mixed reviews
(with most of them leaning towards the negative side). Although, I didn't understand Why Killer 7 got negative reviews. I believe it has to do with it's weird and unique gameplay that is extremely different than any other game in it's genre. In fact, I don't know how to classify Killer 7. Is it an adventure game? a survival-horror game? an on-rails shooter? but for now, lets talk about the story.
In Killer 7, you control the 7 personas (Dan Smith, Garcian Smith, Kaede Smith, Con Smith, Kevin Smith, Coyote Smith, and Mask de Smith) of an assasin (Harman Smith) hired to destroy a terrorist group called, "The Heaven Smile", which attacked the U.N, in an alternate universe where there has been global-wide peace. There are also other other stories included in the plot. Such as, a conflict between the U.S. and Japan, a self-gloating TV reporter causing destruction, comic-book heroes (that are identical to the power rangers) who are causing terrorism in the real world. The Plot can (if not will) get confusing, but to me, that makes the story more artsy. Anyway, let's talk about the gameplay (the thing that made Killer 7 get the negative criticism).
The Gameplay of Killer 7 is similiar to Resident Evil 4 and the on-rail shooters (Star Fox, Panzer Dragoon). You control your selected character by pressing and holding the A button (rather then the analog stick like in other games), which will move your character in a pre-scripted fashion. Most of you will think that this is a stupid idea, but this style of movement is similiar to the on-rail shooters, and no one really complain that you could'nt travel freely in those games (other than moving the y-axis and x-axis), but killer 7 does have alot more freedom than those games. You can back-track, enter different areas and solve puzzle along the way. Could you do that in Star Fox? No.
Speaking of puzzles, a good portion Killer 7's gameplay revolves around solving puzzles. Some characters have their own abilities to solve certain puzzles in the game. Coyote can pick locks, Kaede can open invisible barriers,and Mask can shoot down broken walls and objects. There are also puzzles that require use of these rings that can blow the wind, start a fire, rain down water and travel in time (there are also rings that improve the attributes of your characters). Although, a majority of the puzzles are pretty easy to sovle, especially on normal mode, which tells you what characters and rings to use for a puzzle on the map screen, but there are also some puzzles that may have you go on gamefaqs.com.
Another part of Killer 7 that recieved negative criticism was its combat system. You see, when you hear a chuckle, that's when you have to press and hold the R-trigger and then scan the enemy to make it visible/vunerable, and use the A-button to shoot. This was criticsized due to the fact you can't move while shooting, but the combat in Killer 7 is very similiar to RE4, and the combat system for that game was critically praised, yet it isn't for killer 7? Plus, I thought the combat in Killer 7 was as deep and strategic as RE4. It's because of the fact that you can choose 7 characters to fight with, and each of them have their own special abilities and combat style that is used to defeat the great variety of enimies (other than hitting their weak spot), which in turn, have their own unique abilites and movement. So why does RE4 have a better combat system?
Although, there was one thing about Killer 7 that every game journalist agreed on, was that it's story and art is excellent. Killer 7 is a pretty political game that uses it's gameplay and setting to create a metaphor about the Iraq War and other political topics in the modern day world. I was pretty surprised that Killer 7 was developed in Japan, because there's no one that I know of in Japan who dealt with politics. Especially politics that revolve around the U.S. This amount of art in the game sometimes make Killer 7 seem like a painting rather than a game. I also want to make it clear that i wasn't talking about the graphics (which are good by the way).
That's not to say Killer 7 dosen't have its negatives. Other than a portion puzzles being easy at times and a confusing plot, Killer 7 feels repetitive at times due to the structure of almost every mission in the game. You see, in every chapter/stage, you have to collect these "soul shells" to have you reach near the end of the stage to fight this boss. This happens in almost every mission.
Killer 7 was truly a game that got extremely overlooked because it was too different than any other game we experienced. The only magazine that i read that did praise Killer 7 for its gameplay was Edge, which inducted Killer 7 on the 100 best games of the previous console generation. You know those gamers who complain that there are never any innovative games out there, tell them to buy Killer 7. Only the open-minded need apply.