From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett (opens in new tab) wrote Crapshoot, a column about rolling the dice to bring random obscure games back into the light. Today, a Russian-born shooter that dares to beg the question, "Wait? AntiKiller? Isn't that a healer? Doesn't sound very badass."
There's a specific reason for this game to be here, though you'll have to wait a teeny-tiny bit longer to find out what it is. As for what the game itself is, your guess is as good as mine. It's based on a movie, and has been translated into English—more or less—but in a way that means you don't have much of a chance of following what's going on. Luckily, its barks are worse than its bite. Quite literally. Here's the intro that's meant to establish everything for us.
OK. Not knowing the movie's story, I've done my best to figure this out. AntiKiller is the story of Bruce Willis' balder brother, who stumbles across a sinister plan to combine Don Corleone and Leslie Phillips into a slightly camp ganglord who should be applauded for still trying to give speeches after his tracheotomy. Inspired by videogames, he opts to go into the world of street fighting, only to be interrupted by everything in the universe being infected by the Rage virus—except for one guy who's too busy zoning out on sugar pills that his genre-savvy dealer told him were 'the smack' or something.
The entire story turns out to be an educational film, with the message that if the target gets close enough to your scope to stare into your soul, you're a really shitty sniper. A valuable lesson. Or it might be about a former cop who gets thrown in jail after being betrayed, is finally released, and decides to kick all of the ass. (Checks Wikipedia) Ah. Yeah. It's that one. Ho-hum.
AntiKiller is a bloody awful shooter, handled with all the care and attention of a psychopath's rabbit hutch. The first mission for instance is just a big concrete-filled mass of nothing, with design that forces you to run down and back through a long empty series of alleys just to pick up a decent weapon, and features at least one point that just kills you dead.
There's a guy with a machine gun at the end of it, so that might sound fair enough. You're not allowed to shoot him though, and he just one-shots you without even aiming, because what you're meant to do is go upstairs and run through a bit of a building to get to a place where you can shoot him from a slightly different angle. That's worth a one-hit kill?
Then there's the second mission, which is technically called "Barkass' Club", but is actually just an bit of town that seems to be next to some public toilets. Here, you don't get to run around at will, but instead are locked in a pink boundary so that enemies—whose identities aren't explained—can run up out of nowhere and start swinging baseball bats.
You kill 34 of them. In barely enough space to get a salsa dance going. And at some point, you'd think they'd maybe realise that this isn't the best tactic.
Also, since when did Baldie have... hair? Is this is a disguise? Someone else? It might help if the pre-mission cutscenes actually played every time, rather than just if they felt like it. Is this game just taking place over a really long time, or sponsored by Rogaine? I hope the film was a bit clearer.
Things just get more confusing as the missions click past. The next one goes to a supermarket, where two sides we've never been introduced to are fighting over something that's not been explained.
You fight about a million mooks, with another guy who has a health bar but doesn't actually bother fighting back most of the time. Enemy, or just really crappy ally? Turns out to be an enemy, who just happens to be immortal until you're supposed to kill him. Killing him doesn't kill him though, but cuts to a scene where some gangsters are about to cut someone open with a circular saw but then opt to use an axe instead because... reasons. Probably good reasons. Not the kind I'd argue with them about, anyway.
A running theme though is that the cutscenes bear no relation to what follows. After the axe murder, the action moves to an assault on a banker that features lots of people running around and having exciting gun-battles.
When this segues into the game though, it's just Baldy-No-More trapped out in the open by the evil border from before, in the middle of a city, single-handedly murdering 41 people in the face with a Magnum.
Booker DeWitt would find this level of violence excessive. Also Rambo.
Making it worse, it took three attempts to get through this without an enemy getting trapped behind scenery and impossible to target, courtesy of that evil border not allowing a straight shot. Nnggggghh...
And what happens after that? I have no idea. The next level on the map lit up, but didn't do anything when clicked. I think we can safely assume though that it wasn't anything particularly special.
A warehouse. Well, I think I can live without having played that.
But never mind the actual game. I mentioned at the start that I had a specific reason for doing this, and while the shooting is unquestionably bad, it's not... say... Isle of the Dead bad. Ordinarily, I'd just have played it, shrugged, and uninstalled. Except! AntiKiller has quite possibly the greatest barks ever.
What are barks? They're a technical name for those things that characters shout during the game. Sstuff like "He's over there!" or "Reloading!" or "Fisher! You think these jeans make me look fat, FISHER?" If you've played any action games ever, you'll have heard a million of them. You probably won't however have heard any as great as AntiKiller's—mumbled Russian, subtitled for our convenience. And they're wonderful, especially as this isn't even remotely a comedy. Someone thought these were the kind of badass things gang members and crooked types would shout in life-or-death situations. Ladies. Gentlemen. Prepare for... THE TOP TEN GREATEST BARKS OF ANTIKILLER!
10: We'll be killing you now!
9: Hands on the nape!
8: We're immortal! (gets shot in face, dies)
7: If we're killed, we'll win all the same!
6: Muzzle down!
5: Let's get out of here! Shooting!
4: You'll pay for boy!
3: He's got trunk!
2: I'll suck your eyes out!
And my absolute favourite...
1: Jiggers! Cops!
The translation hilarity doesn't end there either. The mission objective for the first level is, I quote, "Kick the bad boy asses. Help out the cop." That cop is helped when you go up to him and matter-of-factly state "I've killed everybody. Let's go." Beautiful. If only GTA could be so concise.
Oddly, none of this helped AntiKiller find an audience outside Russia. (I have no idea if it found one inside it.) As for the film itself, it currently holds 5.5/10 on IMDB, and got a sequel called Antikiller D.K. I'm assuming that doesn't stand for Donkey Kong, but on the chaotic evidence of the cutscenes in this game I'm not willing to rule anything out. Except my bothering to track it down, of course.
PS: No aunties were killed in the making of this Crapshoot.