Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Kill Switch is a third-person shooter video game developed by Namco in 2003 for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC. A Game Boy Advance adaptation was released in 2004. The GBA game was created independently of Namco, due to a licensing deal with Destination Software.

As a relatively straightforward third-person shooter, the most distinguishing characteristic of Kill Switch is its cover system, a mechanic that has the player character taking cover behind objects and around corners in a manner similar to Namco's own Time Crisis series of light gun shooters as well as Koei's third-person shooter WinBack and Konami's stealth game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. However, Kill Switch was the first third-person shooter to feature the cover system as its core game mechanic, and introduced the blind fire mechanic to the cover system.


The game is a remotely controlled super-soldier, Nick Bishop. For most of the game the soldier is remotely controlled by a man known only as "Controller." Controller is apparently using a direct neural connection to Bishop. Bishop's suppressed memories occasionally break through, causing Controller headaches. The memories feature a woman and the phrase, "Say my name." Controller, under orders from a man named Archer, uses Bishop in a series of combat missions designed to convince two nations or groups known as the North and the West to go to war. Archer plans on war profiteering in the resulting war, in part by selling copies of the technology that controls Bishop. Moments before Bishop launches a warhead equipped with a biological agent, a woman known as "Duchess" takes over Bishop, in the process causing a surge that kills Controller. Duchess uses Bishop to attack the base Controller is operating from and eventually restore Bishop's memories. It is revealed that the woman from Bishop's memories was his new wife. She was killed by Archer when Archer captured Bishop. Archer wanted the technology in Bishop for resale. Freed, Bishop makes a final assault on Archer. Afterwords, Archer is killed and Bishop walks away.


Kill Switch is best remembered for being the first third-person shooter to feature the cover system as its core game mechanic, and for introducing the blind fire mechanic to the cover system. Several shooters took inspiration from Kill Switch and implemented similar cover systems. In the design of Gears of War, lead developer Cliff Bleszinski of Epic Games credits Kill Switch's cover system as one of the influences they put into the game's design, as Kill Switch's lead designer was employed by Epic Games and was involved in the development of Gears of War.

Naughty Dog's Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, which began development in 2005 and was released in 2007, also took inspiration from Kill Switch, which Uncharted's lead designers Evan Wells and Amy Hennig credited as inspiration for the game's cover system. Other examples of shooters that featured Kill Switch-inspired cover systems include the 2005 third-person shooter CT Special Forces: Fire for Effect, and the 2006 games Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas, a first person shooter released in the same month as Gears of War, and Killzone: Liberation, a third-person action game released a month before Gears of War.

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