First Impressions: You see me doing thrill-seeker liquor store hold-ups with a ?born to lose? tattoo on my chest??
For the first time in the very
long and vaunted history that is my gaming life, I'm less than optimistic about my favorite subject. While I've actually been very pleased overall by the impact the 360 has made upon the industry, and with many of the titles, I just can't help feeling that there just aren't enough killer apps out there yet. Oblivion, GR:AW and Saints Row ? all fantastic games, but too few and far between. Not to mention the fact that I'd like to see something different for a change. Yea, I love my shooters and action/adventure games, and I'm not saying that I'm not pretty satisfied with what the new generation's had to offer thus far in that respect, but I would like to see a different kind of protagonist, with a different set of objectives than the obligatory super-soldier or other banal hero archetype on a quest to save the world, or universe or whatever. Enter Kane and Lynch ? a gritty, hardcore crime drama ala Heat and Collateral, this unique third-person action title from Hitman developers IO Interactive promises to bring big-boy gaming to those who crave it.
Kane's a former mercenary and all around bad-ass, on his way to death row via bus when things go horribly wrong ? the vehicle falls under attack, and Kane suddenly finds himself shoulder to shoulder with fellow prisoner Lynch, a certifiable psychopath who may, or may not, have killed his wife during a psychotic break. As you escape the scene, killing as many police officers as you can ? or at least have to ? you realize that there's more here than meets the eye. Kane's former employer, an international mercenary outfit called The Seven, has finally come calling to collect their marker ? seems Kane pulled a job for them a while back that involved stealing and delivering a lot of cash. Things got botched and Kane failed to make good on the delivery portion of the deal. Now The Seven want their pound of flesh, so Kane is rescued, and forcibly paired with the insane Lynch to pull a series of jobs and finally pay his former bosses back. Intriguing set-up if I do say so myself?
IO is looking to take action gaming in fresh directions with the deeply involving interplay between the two main characters. Both are polar opposites ? Kane is calm and professional, if no less brutal, and Lynch is purely nuts, his medication the only thing between him toeing the line of sanity and completely losing it. Of course, this dynamic will figure heavily in gameplay, as Kane attempts to keep Lynch under control so he remains useful, and not a loose cannon ready to blow their whole deal at a moments notice.
Besides dealing with Lynch, Kane will be able to command a small group of mercenaries (up to a total of 12 depending on the scenario) using the face buttons on the 360 controller. The crew can be ordered to strategic positions, told to follow Kane (the player controlled character) or simply sent on the attack. So as not to slow down the fast paced action of Dead Men, all you'll have to do is aim your reticule at the area you want your man (or men) to go to, and press a button. That way you can use flanking maneuvers and other strategies to take out your foes, all the while remaining an integral part of the action.
You can expect to wield some very cool weapons in the game and IO is promising a hardcore shooter with (to paraphrase a member of the development team) ?big guns in international cities and lots of blood and smoke?. Speaking of international cities, Kane's work for The Seven will take him and Lynch to many exotic locations around the world. So far we know that they definitely end up in Japan for at least some of the game, where they'll be tasked with infiltrating a heavily secured night club and kidnapping the daughter of a powerful Yakuza boss. In addition, they'll need to hook up with a couple of other pros to take on an assassination and retrieval job, which requires them to rappel down the face of a towering Tokyo skyscraper and hard-charge a boardroom full of armed guards.
Kane and Lynch: Dead Men looks incredible, as evidenced by footage shown to the gaming press at the Leipzig Games Convention in Germany recently. The nightclub level was on full display, and it's truly a sight to behold. Dozens of people populate the dance floor, swaying independently to the techno beat as Kane moves purposefully through the crowd, brushing against people and shoving them out of the way, all the while with Lynch right at his heel. The lighting and texture work is fantastic, and the character models are all highly detailed and display realistic animations. The shooting action looks top-notch, and all of the environments seen thus far look outstanding ? gritty, realistic and perfectly atmospheric considering the narrative and subject matter.
You'll be able to swap weapons with any of your crew during the missions, and instead of having loading screens or sub-menus, the entire game plays out in an uninterrupted fashion. You can expect some stealth missions (though you won't be sneaking around too much, since the focus is supposed to be on action) and lots of opportunities to put your crew to good use in tactical situations. If you think of the bank robbery scene towards the end of HEAT, or Tom Cruise's cold-blooded hitman Vincent assassinating his target in a crowded dance club during the finale of Collateral ? these are the kind of dramatic scenarios you'll find yourself in while playing Kane and Lynch. Sounds like good stuff to me.
As far as multiplayer, yes there will be adversarial and co-op. Unfortunately, it's only split-screen co-op and not designed to take advantage of Live. Total bummer, but the single player campaign looks so intense, it's hard to be too upset by the news. Online co-op would have been very welcome though. Oh well, maybe for the sequel. The team has the details of the adversarial play under wraps right now, but look for more info on that as the release date approaches.