The viewpoint shifts to first-person when you do this, changing the game into a Resi 4-style shoot 'em up. Plugging the Heaven's Smiles will slow them down and eventually kill them, or hitting their weakspot will instantly explode them into a shower of blood that you can then capture and use to upgrade your characters' skills.
Like we said, it's a very simple system - and we worry that it might be too simple. Once you're in first-person mode the action is little more than a point-and-click shooting gallery. The saving grace may be the fact that Killer 7 is always chucking new enemies, new shooting challenges, and new bosses at you. Time will tell if the finished game does that enough to keep things consistently fresh.
The range of characters adds both a nice bit of variety to the action and an effective puzzle mechanic, since each character not only feels significantly different but also packs a special ability. For instance, Con is ultra fast, reloads quickly and has super-effective hearing; Kaede can open magical portals by self-harming and spraying her blood around; and can blast through damaged walls with his grenade launcher, but suffers from long reloading delays.
Puzzles vary from simple little side quests that can only be completed with the appropriate character to the type of logic tasks that the Resident Evil series is so famous for - ranging from the ridiculously easy to the brain-mushingly intense. One early puzzle had us setting off a sprinkler to get the water system flowing, then flushing the toilet to force an item to pop out of the blocked pipes.
Aside from the optional tasks progress does feel very linear, especially when you add in the 'on-rails' control system. But, like Resident Evil 4, we have a feeling Killer 7 may be able to pull off its linearity by creating an extremely satisfying game experience. From the early levels we had the chance to play it's clear that this is a game stuffed full of fresh ideas from a presentation, storyline and character point of view, but relies on extremely simple old-school gaming concepts to keep the player happy. And it seems to work.
Method to the Madness
The thing is, Killer 7 is not too weird. It's pretty messed-up, for sure, but there is a hefty chunk of method to its madness. This combined with the witty, intelligent and sometimes downright cool Tarantino-esque scripting and storyline, ensure that Killer 7 shouldn't be so mental that you want to chuck it in the loony bin.
At the end of the day, behind all the ghosts in gimp costumes, the self-harming heroines, the cackling zombies, and the doggy bags full of dead characters, Killer 7 is actually a very normal game. So don't let the weirdness put you off - if you let yourself get used to the strange world of Killer 7 when it hits PS2 and GameCube this September, it might just start to make sense to you...
And that's when you'll start getting worried.