Hands-on: Kane & Lynch multiplayer

At the Eidos event a few days ago, I got some hands-on time with Kane & Lynch’s multiplayer mode: Fragile Alliance. Rather than the traditional, been-there-done-that deathmatch so many games today feature just for the sake of featuring, IO has come up with a new style of multiplayer gameplay for Kane & Lynch, coined Fragile Alliance.

How it plays is relatively simple. Everyone starts out on one side (the mercs), and attempts to kill the police (or other people such as Yakuza depending on which of the four maps you’re playing), collect the money, and escape. What makes it unique is that at any time a member of your crew can betray you all, becoming a traitor and attempting to take all the cash (or some of it) for themselves. If you’re legit and make it out, you split the cash with whomever else also makes it out. If you’re a traitor and make it out, though, you get only what you could stuff in your pocket or other unmentionable places.

To collect money, you stand over an object with a dollar sign, and your loot will gradually increase until the object is bled dry; you only get the money collected if you escape in time. The money earned each round can be used between rounds to purchase combat packs (including a weapon and armor) a la CounterStrike, so the more you win, the better your gear. At the same time, the more you win, the more people will be enticed to turn against you. 

While it sounds pretty simplistic and possibly boring on paper, it’s actually very fun when played with people you know. At Eidos, I spent the better part of a day playing it against podcasters and bloggers, and judging by the banter that went back and forth (and the laughter and failed high-five moments) I’d have to say everyone else appeared to enjoy it, too.

Most matches played in a similar way; people would work together, someone would accidentally kill their own crew, they’d be killed (because killing a traitor [regardless of intention] nets you an easy $100 grand) and the once-mercs but now-cops would attempt to take everyone remaining out so that they could keep them from winning. 

Where it gets to be fun is when people start willingly messing around with people, and planning out when and how they’ll kill their "allies." (As I told Coop from Gamervision, it’s all about the mind games.)

Countless were the times someone would betray the rest of the team to win for themselves. The way it’s set up also keeps you from killing them early to prevent future betrayals; at one point, UncleGamer‘s Jay tried to kill off someone we all knew was a regular traitor, but the moment he pulled the trigger he was shot in the head. It’s a very self-centered mode which heavily favors manipulation, and it captures the feeling and tension of heist movies perfectly. At times, you’ll even have unintentional moments where things just click perfectly. Case in point: one moment where Coop and I simultaneously became traitors by ‘nading our teammates, then teamed up and tried to make it out together without ever planning anything or saying a word. (In case you were wondering, Coop, I would have killed you when we made it to the getaway van. Sorry, buddy.)

Of course, the game is infinitely more fun when you’re the one killing other people and causing people anguish. Then again, I’m an asshole. As Stanley, Godfree and Jay learned the hard way: don’t trust xShelly.

Given the nature of the Fragile Alliance mode and the fact that being betrayed by someone anonymously over the Internet rather than by a friend right next to you who you can hit or yell at will become extremely frustrating, I’d have to say that this looks like it will be a multiplayer game strictly for friends to play together. Playing on Xbox Live against strangers will likely only lead to more swearing than a game of Shotty Snipers.

Check out the next page for some more multiplayer and co-op impressions.

Yes, you should complain that Kane & Lynch’s engine makes online co-op a pipedream, because the co-op is fantastic. In fact, it’s integral to the Kane & Lynch experience.

After some hectic and laugh-inducing Fragile Alliance gameplay, Carlos from Shacknews and I tackled the co-op mode. Unfortunately, he took Lynch.

Why’s that unfortunate? Simple: in this game, Lynch is an entirely different perspective. With his psychopathic problems (and several DSM definitions) plaguing him, Lynch obviously shouldn’t see the world like a normal person, and IO made the game reflect that. At times, your perspective of the world around you will change. In the most blatant example of what we saw, that involved Lynch seeing things as something they weren’t, leading to a lot of chaos. (I’d tell you more, but then I’d be spoiling it, and I’m only an ass in Fragile Alliance.)

That’s partly why playing co-op is essential to the full experience: you can’t play as Lynch in single player. You won’t understand when Lynch does something that to him, it doesn’t seem like a bad thing at all. In fact, we didn’t know that until it Jennie Sue pointed out that in co-op, Lynch sees things differently (which is what led to the impromptu co-op session).

I’ve talked in the past to people about how frustrating it was having so many games feature only online co-op, and how I missed the good ol’ days of every game having splitscreen. Kane & Lynch provides the splitscreen, but they left out the online.

What is there is a blast, though. It’s more fun (and more frustrating) playing co-op, and in my mind is a much superior experience. You may curse or swear when your partner keeps dying because he thinks he’s Dirty Harry (there’s cover for a reason, Carlos!) but overall, it’s just more fun blasting through the game and killing people with a friend.

In case you were wondering, the squad-elements of the game are also present in multiplayer. Rather than have both people issue commands simultaneously, Kane is able to transfer "ownership" of a squad member to Lynch; whomever "owns" the squad member(s) can command them as if it were single player.

Between co-op and Fragile Alliance, Kane & Lynch’s multiplayer is fairly solid. Unfortunately, the lack of online co-op is a big blow to the game if you don’t have any local friends to play the game with. Without a party system (I didn’t notice any, at least) the online may also suffer from griefers, and will likely always result in someone trying to take out people on the team instantly every time. We’ll have to wait and see, though. Perhaps with all the other huge titles coming out this month, the crowd that purchases Kane & Lynch will be infinitely more mature than I when it comes to Fragile Alliance.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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