x360a Special - Kane & Lynch Multiplayer Hands On
Written Thursday, November 08, 2007 By Dan WebbView author's profile
IO's first multiplayer outing on any platform must not be taken lightly. The aptly titled Fragile Alliance is frankly some of the most intense multiplayer you will have played. For those that don't know too much about it, I'll give you a short run though on its foundations.
Fragile Alliance puts all the gamers on one team of up to 8 players. The goal is to pull a job and get as much loot as possible and get out as quick as you can. The rounds are thick and fast, but they are seemingly more complex. It is vital you work as a team as you won't be able to get in to the strongholds alone. This is where the tricky and tactical part kicks in. Depending on how many people escape plays a part in how the loot is divided, so if you were to take out a team mate, the loot would be split by less people. Great idea, BUT once you kill a team mate, you are out the alliance and for that round you have a huge price on your head and you are marked as an orange target for all to see, so you can trust the rest of the team to try and take you out. Do it too early and you stand no chance of surviving so timing is crucial (if you do it at all that is, you can just pull the job and leave as a team if you like, but that won't get you on top of the game leaderboard). To spice it up, once you die, you respawn, once and once only as a police officer who has to try and stop the heist, kill looters and get a reward that way. It totally adds another dimension to the game. If there are two of you left and you are traversing the level and you kill your teammate, don't expect to get to extraction without a fight! Do it just at the right time and you will leave with no heat. On top of that a few other key things play a part in the game. If you do become a traitor, not only is there a price on your head but when you spawn for the next round you will spawn to the side of the others in a black vest so everyone can see who the traitor is. Then there is the money, not only does it act like a sort of shield, the more you have, the more hits you can take, but inbetween rounds, you can use the hard earned money to buy upgraded weapons, grenades and upgraded armour and it really does come in handy. The more money you have though, the bigger the target on your back, as each player's stash is displayed above their character's head. It literally is all about loyalty and betrayal.
I first stepped up on to the 360 as part of a team of 6 looking to pull a job on a bank (similar to the one in single player in actual fact). The levels and the models look pretty decent for the online side of the game. As soon as the game starts, you have 200 seconds to pull the job and get to extraction. As we got in the lobby after shooting a few civilians on the way for good measure, we meet some light security guard resistance at the internal doors on the way to the vault. The shooting does take a little while to get used to, you can pull the LT to zoom in on your adversary but beware, the recoil on the machine guns is pretty intense, so I'd recommend burst firing. After clearing the bank floor, all 6 of us made it down in to the garage area where a security van and hundreds of thousands of dollars were. Here there was some medium resistance, nothing a bit of teamwork and a few well placed grenades couldn't move. We all pile in and grab as much cash as possible (you only have to stand over it for a few seconds for it to be in your stash). This is where the reinforcement comes and it gets a bit trickier. The garage door lifts and across the parking lot, you'll get the rushing SWAT agents with their improved weapons, accuracy and armour. By now we had lost a few guys and they were respawning as cops, not only was the resistance a lot tougher, but you now had to battle the AI of your former teammates, which can be a pain. The thing with being a cop is you can see the direction of the looters on your screen, so you know for a fact they will be coming for you for their reward, to counter this you can crouch with the LB which makes you effectively disappear from the map (this is also a good tactic for a traitor) which is what the remaining people did. The coast then looked clear, 3 guys left, 1 being me, the 1 guy makes a break for it, only for the 1 left behind with me to start firing at him.... He goes down! We have a traitor on our hands AND he's stood right next to me... Plus there is a body full of cash a matter of meters away. At that point, me and the traitor get involved in a gun fight which I came out on top of... Only just. So I get the reward for the traitor kill AND I get to get the money off my former loaded team mate. RESULT! Or so I thought, it was now only me left and the other two guys had respawned! Ouch! What do I do!? RUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNN!! And I did.... But to no avail.... I was just a heap of lifeless criminal in the middle of the parking lot *sigh*. The round was intense, nerve racking, exhilarating and everything you want from a multiplayer. The not knowing what your team mates are going to do doesn't help matters and only adds to the tension.
Before we got on the multiplayer, we had a brief chat with Morten regarding the communication that is available via the online play and he told us that it was an open channel... So no secret plotting of uprisings was going to be easy to do. He did hint at the use of private chat and messages using the Live blade though, so it could be interesting to see how that pans out. But can you even trust them then? Can you even trust a friend when the loot is involved? Greed plays a huge part in this game. Are you satisfied with a small cut or are you willing to do what it takes to get your hands on the whole of the stash? It's these dilemmas that go through your mind that make Fragile Alliance a joy to play and for its unique style, I'm sure it will be a winner amongst the Xbox community.
So then, after a few more games on the bank level, holding my own some games, stealing others loot as well occasionally.... Hell even not making it in to the bank sometimes because of someone betraying me *ahem* Minty *ahem*, you start to realise that every round is different. You'll find that the dilemmas come in different forms as well... If you team mate is firing at you and you fire back and kill him, YOU become the traitor... So what do you do? I mean, you can't just stand there and be a bullet sponge can you? Do you fire back and risk being a traitor for the round? Because even if you do escape, you're not part of the alliance anymore so you don't get your cut. Do you try and strike a deal!? Argh! What to do!? This is the beauty of this game, human error, emotion and greed will make sure that you will never encounter the same round.
We then moved on to Tokyo. This time, the aim was to take on the Yakuza and retrieve as much loot from the gangsta's and leave on the chopper that circles. This level is a step up in difficulty from the first level we played. Not as much cover, tougher enemies with stronger weapons, but again, if you work as a team, you can pick them off and advance. The majority of the loot sits in the middle of a bridge in a small shack, surrounded by hoardes of enemies who are deadly accurate. By this time, the original team of 6 was down to 3 or 4 but at least the stronghold was cleared and we were just picking up the remaining loot. At this point, the second wave of Yakuza storm the bridge and we all try to retreat... The 6 strong crew is now down to 2, me and Chris from Eidos... Seeing as he was the more experienced, he lead the way as we both took out all remaining computer AI and newly respawned ex-teammates. By this time I had amounted just over a million in loot and Chris was not that far behind. The gun battles were short and intense, they tried to surround us and circle round but we effectively as a team dispatched all the problems we encountered. By the time this was all over, there was a matter of seconds left before the final chopper left for extraction. Time was of the essence as we sprinted across the level for extraction. 15 seconds was on the clock as I approached the exit point... "What do I do?" was my first reaction... Do I settle for joint first or do I try to take the big prize... I'll be honest, greed took control of me, it's not the most stable of emotions but my only thought was how quickly and easy I could take him down... With Chris' back to me, I thought I stood a chance and so I opened fire on him. It was a close fought battle, but due to my bigger stash (acting as a better shield) I managed to win the battle... Only just though, but by the time he respawned, I was on my way home in the chopper carrying with me $1.7 million dollars. My heart has never beated so fast. It's moments like these that totally make the Kane & Lynch multiplayer one of the most exhilarating experiences I have ever experienced in multiplayer.
The mode is unique, the action is intense, what more could you ask for? Remember folks, there is no honour among thieves!