Eidos Kane and Lynch: Dead Men

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Eidos Kane and Lynch: Dead Men
  • Eidos Kane and Lynch: Dead Men
  • Eidos Kane and Lynch: Dead Men
  • Eidos Kane and Lynch: Dead Men

Pros

  • Engaging mission concepts, offline co-op, online multiplayer turns out to be pretty fun

Cons

  • Poor controls, mostly bland visuals, misbehaving allies, dumb enemies, inconsistent difficulty, questionable collision-detection

Bottom Line

There are just too many problems with Kane & Lynch to cover here. The gritty atmosphere and balls-out gunplay offer some thrills, offline co-op demands a strong partnership, and the online cops-and-robbers mode holds some potential, but it takes a lot more than a hard-boiled noir tone and a mildly interesting amalgam of ideas to form the taut tour de force Kane & Lynch aspires to be.

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A history of violence

A game like Kane & Lynch almost demands a gritty, well told tale, but as much as it tries to emulate Michael Mann's contribution to action cinema, its narrative chops just aren't anywhere up to the task. This heavy-handed potboiler is just an excuse to get you into trouble with mobsters, cops, guards, and anyone else with a shotgun and a beef.

What Kane & Lynch lacks in storytelling acumen, it makes up for with interesting scenarios. However, while it might sound fun to perpetrate a daylight bank robbery, or break into a maximum security prison, these circumstances come off feeling limp despite all the loud gunfire and dead bodies. Each mission basically boils down to taking out witless automatons that come running when you cross invisible markers, and heading for the next disposable scripted cut-scene.

For every intense and strategically rich open environment there are two that feel like halls bound together with duct-tape, and though Kane & Lynch isn't exactly ugly, it doesn't come close to tapping the potential of the Xbox 360's hardware with its timid explosions and awkward enemy movements.

Losing control

Then there are the frustratingly inconsistent controls. It made me long for the intuitive control scheme found in Gears of War, which would have been practically perfect for this game. Why does holding down the left trigger to zoom in on your target, sometimes leave you pointing at the ground? Why is weapon reloading both manual and automatic, thus robbing you of golden opportunities to return fire because your character stubbornly insists on pausing to swap clips?

There are just too many problems with Kane & Lynch to cover here. The gritty atmosphere and balls-out gunplay offer some thrills, offline co-op demands a strong partnership, and the online cops-and-robbers mode holds some potential, but it takes a lot more than a hard-boiled noir tone and a mildly interesting amalgam of ideas to form the taut tour de force Kane & Lynch aspires to be.

Multiplayer online gameplay

We had some weighty complaints to lodge with the Kane & Lynch's main campaign, but we've now had a chance to take part in the "Fragile Alliance" multiplayer portion, and the impact it has on the big picture of the game is considerable.

You and your squad of money-grubbing criminals start out with similar goals, whether you're ripping the Yakuza off for millions in cocaine, taking down multiple jewellery stores in a mall, or knocking over a bank. Ventilate any civilians that might raise the alarm before your team is in position, drop anyone carrying the cabbage, and stand over the money icons till they drain into your pockets. The more green paper you pick up, the better you shielding from bullets, but taking damage also leaves behind some of your stash.

Though the same cover, reload, and aiming issues that hurt the single player campaign are in attendance, they're mitigated by a cool wrinkle: at any point during the robbery, you can choose to betray your supposed pals and open fire on them.

Turn coat

If you turn traitor, you don't have to share your haul with anyone; all that money you soaked up goes into your own coffers, free from any post-heist division. If, when, and how to pull a Benedict Arnold -- while watching out for a knife in your own back -- injects all the potent greed and paranoia that the ham-fisted single-player story fails to, and leads to a lot of interesting negotiations. Was that accidental friendly fire that took down a squad mate, or a blatant assassination? Plead your case, and folks just might buy it. One fragile alliance can disintegrate only to spawn another, even more tenuous partnership.

If you do fall prey to security or treachery, you lose all your acquired loot, but you do get to join the opposing force and its recovery effort. The finder's fee you receive for reclaimed loot can't compare to a sack of bloody cash, but it might be enough to buy you improved weapons and armour for the next round. Plus, you can always earn an instant bonus by scoring a revenge kill on the jerk who downed you in the first place. Die as a cop or gangster, and you're out for good, but each round is short enough to prevent this from becoming frustrating. Besides, following around the survivors is a great way to get a handle on when they're likely to turn on you, and what their favoured tactics are.

The solo storyline and its unpolished mechanics might leave you unsatisfied, and the lack of online co-op is still disappointing, but the tense mutual suspicion of Fragile Alliance goes a long way to improving the overall value. If you care about multiplayer at all, add half a point to our original fun factor score; if that's all you care about, well, you should definitely give Kane & Lynch their day in court.

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