IGN Preview of Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
Kane and Lynch pull no punches. Lynch, the highly medicated psychopath, sometimes tries to, but his mental demons eventually get the best of him. Kane, on the other hand, doesn't care if it's an officer of the law or an innocent senior citizen. If they're in his way, then they're getting a face full of lead and an ear full of curse words. These are not nice people, but the two anti-heroes of Kane & Lynch: Dead Men may be powerful enough personalities to lead the game to success at retail. After playing through the first six stages of the final code, we can tell the duo are far from run of the mill.
Kane & Lynch earns every bit of its mature rating. This isn't the sort of game where the main character is morally good but forced into a tight spot. It's the story of two bad people in a terrible situation. There are no moral ambiguities here -- only pain and destruction.
What's so interesting with Kane & Lynch, though, is that the two criminals are entirely believable characters. Flawed as humans though they may be, their actions are entirely reasonable given their motivations and emotional states. The first six chapters of the game lay these out, giving you a glimpse into their obviously sordid pasts while the two become an unlikely and often unsuccessful team.
The strength of the characters is in large part thanks to the way Kane & Lynch is presented. The cinematic cutscenes are complemented by gameplay that never stops telling the story. The dialogue between the two anti-heroes almost never ceases, filling in plot details and adding to the already thick tension. These gameplay segments are all about action, filled with car chases, armed robberies and kidnapping, but they're made ever more powerful by the way the story is woven into the game itself. In fact, it's hard for us to get too detailed with our descriptions of how the game plays without spoiling the story.
None of this would be possible if it weren't for the great voice work done for this game. It goes beyond what most games appear to aspire to, which is to not annoy the player too much. In Kane & Lynch, the voices lend emotion in the right places and help the player to better relate to these characters that would, in normal circumstances, repulse any sane individual.
While Kane & Lynch is billed as a squad-based action game that gives the player the freedom to choose how to play, it largely boils down to a straight action game in the end. You can press into walls to take cover or order your squad mates to attack specific targets or take up new positions, but there is little reason to do anything other than run and gun through the first six stages. You may wind up dying a few times from getting too aggressive, but the spotty cover system (made readily apparent by the enemy AI's poor use of it) doesn't exactly reward the cautious player.
That's not necessarily a terrible thing. The game is completely geared towards the raw action junkie, although we would like more bang for our buck when it comes to explosions. What is a disappointment, though, is the fact there isn't any online co-op mode in Kane & Lynch. You're free to play the game co-operatively with a friend taking control of Lynch. The game even has specific segments where the two split up to achieve simultaneous objectives. These are done quite well and the whole game just seems ripe for the online co-op world. Perhaps last generation a game could get away with leaving this feature out, but online gaming has become such a staple that it comes off as a major oversight.
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men has been pushed up for a November 14 release on PS3, PC and Xbox 360. Between now and then, we'll be busy finishing up the rest of the game in preparation for a full review.
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