Hands-on: Kane & Lynch singleplayer

People will remember November as the month we were faced with the latest Mario, Rock Band, Mass Effect, Call of Duty 4, and Assassin’s Creed. One game that’s slipping below a lot of radars, however, is Eidos’ upcoming crime drama, Kane & Lynch.

Created by the people behind the Hitman series and Freedom Fighters, the game features elements of both in both the narrative and gameplay aspects. (It even features music by Jesper Kyd.) For fans of those games, I’m telling you right now: you’ll love Kane & Lynch. If you don’t quite know what it is, though, let me tell you about it.

Kane & Lynch is the story of two men, obviously named Kane and Lynch. Kane is a hard-ass ex-merc, while Lynch is a psychopathic, schizophrenic murderer. The game begins with police transporting the two men, when suddenly things go horribly wrong.

You (Kane) are led by Lynch away from the break, in a very cinematic opening with no more than 10 or 15 seconds of cinematic scenes at any given time. The game reflects your confused and groggy state (you were injected with adrenaline to keep you going) and as you progress through the first level, you’ll taught on the fly how to perform the necessary actions, such as picking up weapons, taking cover, and climbing objects. (The actual tutorial takes place on the second level.)

After being rescued by Lynch, you find that he has taken you to a group known as The7, who demand you to return something you took from them, or else they’ll kill your family. Ah, criminal dramas.

At that point, the game takes off. You travel from locales varying from city banks to small towns, and the gameplay changes constantly between stealth-action, balls-to-the-wall action, and tactical action. All elements of the game flow together well, and the music by Jesper reflects the mood and tension very well. (Pay attention to Kane’s theme if you play it; great work.)

Squad-based commands include basic staples such as go there and attack there. What makes Kane & Lynch extremely difficult, is that every member of your squad has to survive each level. If one person falls, you all lose. You can restore a fallen comrade using an adrenaline shot, but if you restore them too often, they’ll OD and you’ll fail the level and have to restart from the last checkpoint.

Gameplay wise, Kane & Lynch really doesn’t have anything that new. The action is fairly standard fare (although the controls will require a lot of sensitivity tweaking to be decent when it comes to aiming), and the graphics aren’t to die for; basically it looks like a slightly better Blood Money. If you’ve watched gameplay videos and thought to yourself, "That looks familiar," you’re probably right. It borrows a lot from several genres and puts it together, but nothing it does really changes any mechanics.

What is fantastic, though, is the world and characters in it. Kane & Lynch is 100% character- and story-driven, and the two titular characters are some of the best I’ve seen in recent years. I didn’t experience the full story yet (look for impressions of that in the review next week), but from what I played it was obvious that the story was filled with twists and turns. Even the people working on the game pushed the point that Kane & Lynch’s strongsuit is the narrative and the world behind it; whether or not gamers appreciate something driven more by the story than the gameplay will be seen in the coming months.

If you manage to be drawn into Kane & Lynch’s world, expect your own values to be tested. As Jesper said when we were talking about the game, the story is so compelling that it "…makes you feel bad for rooting for these two evil men."


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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