Kane & Lynch: Dead Men Review

Unless you’re a certain type of gamer (or regularly read Game Informer), you may not have heard of Kane & Lynch: Dead Men outside of the fact that it’s being released during the two strongest weeks of games in years. Soon, though, you probably won’t be able to get away from it. Playboy features, a massive advertising campaign, viral marketing up the wazoo, and other forms of marketing will soon be underway for IO’s latest criminal opus, and Eidos is obviously looking at making the duo a recognizable one this holiday season.

That’s the best course of action, too. When you get right down to it, Kane & Lynch’s strongest (and only above average) features are the titular characters and Kane’s story. I can’t go into too much detail because it’s really easy to spoil it, but Dead Men is basically about an ex-merc and current-inmate named Kane and his dealing with past associates, The7. (Think if the Illuminati joined forces with the Corleone family.)

The game begins in a very cinematic style, with Kane being transported to his execution, when suddenly an explosion rocks the van, freeing the inhabitants — one of which happens to be Lynch. The two escape with the help of some unfamiliar mercs, and it turns out Kane’s old associates have a bone to pick with him, sending Kane after a briefcase containing who knows what in order to save the lives of his wife and daughter he left over ten years ago.

Once it gets going, the story really takes off. You find yourself in the US, Japan, and elsewhere during the 6 hour (give or take) journey, with each area offering its own visual flair and style. It’s not going to win any Nobel prizes for literature, but it’s no worse than the stories in a lot of recent crime dramas striking it big in Hollywood, such as Infernal Affairs The Departed and American Gangster. This game really is the closest any game has come to hitting that special zone that makes criminal-based tales so interesting and enthralling.

It’s a good thing the story is so damn good, because gameplay-wise Kane & Lynch is anything but. It’s a third-person squad-based shooter at the most basic of levels, and does little to build upon that. Combine that with aiming that leaves something to be desired and an iffy cover system, and you’re left with gameplay that could be substituted into any number of so-so action titles without anyone being the wiser.

Of course, in co-op even an average game becomes great, and Kane & Lynch is no exception. Given the title, you could assume that this game actually plays better with two people; you’d be right. In co-op mode, the second player will control Lynch while the first controls Kane. During this time, you’re able to experience events from Lynch’s perspective, and see how his psychotic mind understands the world around him. (For information on the Fragile Alliance multiplayer mode, check out this article.)

Why they didn’t allow for a person to select Lynch in the single player campaign is one of the many small issues that ultimately brings this game down a notch. You have to play as Lynch to get the full experience, but you can only do that on co-op, which can only be done offline due to the dated engine. Things such as that (and a few occasional visual glitches) really make me wish that a little more time was spent on this game, because it could have been a much better experience for gamers across the board.

As it is, Kane & Lynch is a fantastic game, but only for a few select groups of gamers. Gamers who love heist movies or criminal drama will love Kane & Lynch; gamers who loved Hitman and/or Freedom Fighters will love Kane & Lynch; gamers who love a good story and have been moaning about the lack of emphasis placed on narrative will love Kane & Lynch. Unfortunately, many people won’t want to put up with the bland gameplay to experience Kane’s tale — especially with everything else coming out this holiday season. It’s a real shame, as Kane & Lynch stands high and proud as an example of storytelling and characterization in a game done right. If you’re like me, that fact alone should be enough to make you want to play this game. If you aren’t, we can only hope that we’ll eventually see a sequel that will (hopefully) appeal to both of us.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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