Kane & Lynch: Dead Men Review

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men Review
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Deep down, I bet all of us at one time or another have wanted to be the bad guy... just once. Just to see what it’s like, taste the betrayal, get involved in some of the most underhanded ways to get a job done. Well, fear not, IO Interactive and Eidos have teamed up once again to bring you a title with a difference. From the minds behind such sleeper titles as Hitman and Freedom Fighters, we have Kane & Lynch, a story that puts you in control of some of the baddest guys around.

Mullets are back in fashion!

The two main characters have very different backgrounds, but both equally as tragic. Kane was cast into a life of corruption after his son tragically got hold of his shotgun in his family's house and decided to decorate the walls with himself. Blamed by his wife for their sons' death, Kane abandons the family and descends into a life as a mercenary. His last job was working with The7, a powerful clan of mercenaries, on a huge diamond heist in Venezuela which went horribly wrong when civilians and members of The7 failed to get out alive and Kane managed to escape alone with all the loot. Kane was later arrested and found guilty of the accused crimes and sentenced to death but the loot was never recovered. Lynch, on the other hand, didn’t get much of a say in his situation. An ordinary man who suffered from blackouts and schizophrenia, one day he woke to find his wife dead and he the prime suspect. Adamant that he was innocent and with no recollection of the night in question, Lynch was found guilty of murder and also sentenced to death. This is where the game picks up the story. Kane & Lynch on a prison transfer but little does Kane know that The7 are still alive and kicking and have his wife and daughter and want their cut otherwise they will be sleeping with the fishes. Lynch acts as Kane’s minder and watchman for The7 throughout a roller coaster ride of betrayal, revenge, and plenty of crime-ridden action.

As far as visuals in the game go, there aren’t a lot of moments that will make you go, "Wow, that was amazing", but the graphics are still solid. The environments are fairly detailed, especially as you progress throughout the game. The vast amount of different scenes you are thrown into as well is pretty huge. One minute you are in a bank pulling a job, the next minute you’ll be moving through a packed out club or in the middle of the jungle involved in a fire fight. Each of the environments are fairly destructive as well, as your gun fire can peel the tiles off the wall in the bank for example. The character models are very detailed, actually allowing you to relate to the characters you control. They tend to represent detailed expressions with vivid emotions. On the whole, they are decent, but not breaking the boundaries of gaming graphics that we seem to have become accustomed to these days.

Can't a man catch a train in peace!

The voice acting in the game is fantastic. The dialogue between Kane & Lynch is a delight, watching as they not only battle their own demons, but as they battle each other as well. There is plenty of colourful language throughout, as you would expect in a criminal drama with guns, death and betrayal involved, but this only adds to the game. The soundtrack that accompanies it is another great addition to the game. Every score chosen is a perfect choice to set the atmosphere. The club scene in particular is great as you enter the club surrounded by heavy house beats and leave in an array of silence with nothing but the occasional burst of gun fire. There is also a great effect when you get downed by your adversaries waiting for a team mate to administer some adrenaline. The haunting sounds of memories come to the forefront of the audio as the battle that still carries on around you seems to fade out in and become distorted. The best thing about dieing in the game. Classic effect.

The levels throughout the campaign are fairly linear, but the action is so intense throughout that this will never really be a problem. The game seems to throw you into set piece after set piece of action, whether it be storming the bank to get a briefcase, stopping wave after wave of swat, or whether you have to pile through a busy club to get some necessary information with many an adversary on the way. All in all, the game seems to be designed for the adrenaline junkie inside of all us. The enemy AI however seems to take the edge off some of these situations as they can be ridiculously dense, whether it be shouting from a foot away at you as you target their forehead or whether you happen to walk past them without them firing. This fortunately is only on select instances, but frustrating nevertheless.

The traitor is plain for everyone to see.

The game uses the Glacier engine, an in-house engine created from scratch by IO, and the moment you pick it up you can feel the influence that Hitman and Freedom Fighters has had upon the controls in this title. The controls and feel of the game do have a fairly steep learning curve. It will be a few hours before you are confident you can control the recoil of the guns, but after you get a feel for it, you’ll be dispatching enemies left, right, and centre in an instant. The problem is, however, that by the time you have really got a feel for the controls the game is nearly over as the game is disappointingly short; playing from start to finish will take around 7-10 hours depending on skill.

As well as the straight up single player campaign mode, there is split screen co-op to keep you going a little longer. It adds a new dimension to the game as you can see Lynch's blackouts take place literally on the screen next to you. The blackout periods give a great character insight in to Lynch’s illness; his inability to deal with some situations casts a totally different perspective which you wouldn’t really experience in single player. Seeing Lynch perceive civilians as police, or even obscure the boundaries of normality as civilians walk the streets with pigs heads, is a nice addition to the game. Especially when you see the sane view on the other half of the screen. It definitely gives you an incentive to play the game through with a friend sat next to you. This is one of the problems however, if you haven’t got a friend that shares your passion for gaming then you are left unable to enjoy this aspect of the game as there is no inclusion of online co-op. Despite the justifiable reasons for it not being included, namely time constraints, the feature's absence is a major negative in a day and age where online co-op is becoming a necessity.

The multiplayer aspect of Kane & Lynch is IO’s debut in the multiplayer arena on any platform, but it certainly doesn’t show. There is no straight up deathmatch situations however, so don’t say you haven’t been warned. Instead you have a multiplayer mode called Fragile Alliance, where up to 8 players over Xbox Live or System Link can work together to pull off a heist, but that’s not the interesting thing. Whoever leaves the level gets a cut of the stash that the crew manages to get, but if someone happens to get killed, by a teammate maybe, well then you’ll get more of a cut. The multiplayer is a unique idea that when played with a good group of friends, or even strangers, can give you something new every round. The controls are similar to the singleplayer; the shooting takes some time to get used to as mentioned before but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be betraying the hell out of people. The multiplayer mode is a fantastic addition to the game, one that is desperately needed when the single player campaign can be finished in under 10 hours and one that could be a hit for months to come.

The achievements are hit and miss in all honesty. The overall split is about 50/50 between the campaign and the multiplayer and this list may take a while for some people to perfect. I’ve always been a big hater of multiplayer achievements and there are a lot here, but in a game that has a properly thought out multiplayer arena, I can forgive them. Killing 100 traitors and playing 200 matches seem to be the most time consuming. Unless you include the Number 1 and Number 2 in the world achievements, which before you panic, are only worth 0 points. The campaign achievements are decently balanced with a few tied in with the story and others for performing some triggered acts along the way. There are also a few split screen co-op achievements and Lynch only achievements to get with a friend. All in all, it’s not a bad list, but one that will provide some excitement for the achievement fans out there.

Kane & Lynch’s action is fast, adrenaline fueled, and intense. The single player campaign is as close most of us will get to being part of an action movie and better still, being the bad guy. The campaign is short but fantastic and fun to play. The game really shines with its unique multiplayer mode which just goes to show that thinking outside the box is worth it. If you want a tactical shooter, this isn’t your game. If you want an amazing story, great acting, plenty of action and betrayal, than Kane & Lynch is the game for you.

The character dialogue and musical score is fantastic. Really sets the mood for the game and allows you to get sucked into the story. Plenty of over the top swearing has never been a bad thing. Hey, it's alright, you're the bad guy this time.

Decent visuals, no wow factors. Loads of different environments which are greatly portrayed coupled with some detailed character models are a good mix.

A quick lived campaign with plenty of action. More an action film at times than a game by the fact you never get a moments rest. Fairly short, but the multiplayer will have you coming back for more.

No online co-op *shock* but great delivery on a unique multiplayer mode with a single system co-op campaign that offers the story from two perspectives.

A 50/50 list of campaign and multiplayer achievements. The list gets you to do a wide range of stuff, but nothing really original. Not an easy 1000 for the whores out there, not even a quick 500.

A solid, adrenaline fueled, fast action game with a great story and some solid acting. Disappointingly short campaign but a multiplayer that makes up for it. Its uniqueness is something that will appeal to a large amount of gamers.


Game Info
IO Interactive


US November 20, 2007
Europe November 23, 2007

Players: 1
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