Kane and Lynch: Dead Men
- 06 June, 2018
- By Admin: Frederick Wilson
- Comments: 00
NOTE: This review is for the XBOX 360 and Playstation 3 versions of Kane and Lynch: Dead Men.
IO Interactive. The same team that brought us that famous and often entertaining assassin by the name of Agent 47 in the Hitman games. The Hitman franchise has spawned many sequels and has appeared on many different platforms, but while the series continues to expand and fly off shelves (which eventually and inevitably led to a Hitman motion picture), they have never been the critically acclaimed titles that would justify their success from a sales-standpoint. While the premises of the Hitman games are intriguing and interesting, the environments, enemy AI and gameplay always seems to be just a tad off the mark and the finished products never quite show how good IO Interactive are as a development team, but instead how good they are at coming up with an awesome plot.
It is a good thing, then, that IO have decided to kick things off into this generation with Kane and Lynch: Dead Men, for the XBOX 360, Playstation 3 and PC. Their Hitman: Contracts title for the 360, while making an appearance this generation, was merely a rehash of the previous-generation version of the game and it doesn’t truly represent what “next-generation” gameplay and visuals is all about. It’s also a good thing that IO have decided to move away from their beloved Hitman franchise and create a new IP that pits gamers not into the actions of the good guys, but rather into the eyes of a psychopath who never quite remembers his sins, and a professional criminal who is willing to put it all on the line to save his wife and daughter.
What’s this about a psycho?
Something that has to be applauded is the appearance of both Kane and Lynch. Typically, games these days generally present the protagonist as a clean-cut, attractive male (or in rare cases, female). With the Hitman titles, IO created a creepy and appealing character that matched the credentials of the story perfectly. With Dead Men, Kane looks like a smart, wise criminal, while Lynch has the look and feel of a psychopathic manic that could flip at any moment. Not only have they created two characters that fit their personalities, but they have also created two characters that have a strange charisma about them.
It’s not just about violence and curse words.
Anyone who has played a Hitman game before should know exactly what they are going to get from the get-go when they pop Dead Men into their console. IO has yet again created a title that is high on curse words, violence, criminal brutality, innocent deaths and strong adult themes. It’s not quite GTA, but it has its own direction and tone and adds a whole new meaning to adult-only gaming. That being said, aiming a game at adults and filling it with violence and swear words doesn’t necessarily make a game any good, and if Kane and Lynch: Dead Men is anything, it’s not a good game.
Firstly, IO has failed miserably in creating intense and exciting gun battles. That’s a major disappointment considering that a majority of the gameplay focuses around this. However, there are some good attempts (note the words “attempts”) at generating a specific type of atmosphere, such as the ability to direct Lynch to particular areas and who to attack, or locations such as the Tokyo city nightclub and a bank hold-up, but they haven’t been executed well at all. This all falls back onto IO’s failed attempt at generating atmospheres that compliment what you’re supposed to be doing.
You also have the rather useless cover-system that, while it is executed fine on its own, is never really needed considering how moronically dumb the AI is. Time and time again you’ll have friendly AI willingly jump right in front of your firing, oblivious to the fact that you’re shooting a damn machine gun at enemy cops. There are also the hilarious and dim-witted actions of the enemy AI. They can be taking cover behind a pillar; only they won’t move their body around to counter the direction you’re facing. So, if you’re aiming at them from the right of the pillar, they’ll move to the left so as to avoid fire. But then all you have to do is aim for the other side of the pillar because their backside is clearly sticking out. This also points out the fact that there are no body-specific deaths; if you shoot an enemy in the head or leg, it won’t make any difference. This seems rather strange considering you can received an achievement in the XBOX 360 version for completing a number of head-shot kills, yet a shot to the head has the same effect as a shot to the torso. IO Interactive may want to consider moving into the current-generation of game development, as it doesn’t seem right that five shots to the head, a shot to the leg and two shots to the torso of a cop still isn’t enough to put him down. Far too often will you be firing at an enemy who is taking cover, only to see them continue to fire back at you after you piled countless number of bullets into them.
What is so incredibly laughable (and insulting to gamer’s everywhere) is the execution of the “adrenaline shot”. Once Kane is shot down, there is a set amount of time before either Lynch or another friendly can approach you and inject you with adrenaline, allowing you to get back up onto your feet and avoid having to restart the scene. For some reason, even if you have five SWAT offices standing directly around you, Lynch seems to have some sought of Jedi technique that allows him to approach you and bring you back without the enemies pilling bullets into him. You’ll also have time to move Kane back into cover and begin taking down enemies again. This is all coupled together with the terrible animation that shows Lynch injecting Kane with a 15-inch invisible syringe. This is even more noticeable when you attempt to bring a friendly back with the shot via Kane, and you’ll notice that his fist doesn’t even come close to the chest of the dying character.
Granted, a lot of the time you’re shot down you are surrounded by enemies so it would get frustrating if Lynch keeps coming over to your to inject you with the shot, only for you to see him get shot down over and over again, but it just seems a little silly that he can just willingly approach you and get you back up to health, all with enemies standing around him. Perhaps IO Interactive should have executed this in a different way, implementing it that it could only take place if you were in a safe and clear area.
One thing that seems to have been a given in any third-person action title these days is the ability to use cover. As mentioned above, the covering system seems rather useless considering you only have to walk straight up to an enemy to kill them anyway. But, if you do choose to use cover and do it the “right” way, you’ll discover how unbelievably frustrating the whole technique is. If you aim at an enemy on the other side of the room, no matter how high you aim, you’ll probably just end up unloading a whole round of bullets directly into the object you’re taking cover behind, clearly showing some issues with clipping. This is also evident through some instances where you’ll be hit while actually taking cover.
A lesson in level design.
Particular elements of the gun battles and gameplay are ok, albeit not executed overly well and the same can be said for the level design. The ideas and locations are generally very good, but the use of the environments is done atrociously at best. One particular example of this is the level in a Tokyo nightclub. The whole point of this stage is to go into the club, extract the owner and fight off any enemies that get in your way. Now, at first glance, it sounds and looks great. Its design looks and feels like an actual Tokyo nightclub. However, the execution is terrible and you’re left with a level that is frustrating and leaves a lot to be desired. Firstly, you have the generic and robotic club crowd that all dance in unison. Every second person also looks exactly the same.
Secondly, when you fire a short in the air, the crowd all go crazy and run around like chickens with their heads cut off. Why they don’t head for the exit is yet another clear demonstration of IO Interactive’s inability to take advantage of current development technology. You can literally shoot into a crowd of people, only to watch them run around in circles.
Thirdly, the whole concept of the level is stupid and seems rather pointlessly done. When you finally kidnap the club owner and shoot your way through the crowd and enemies, you get to the roof, only to have the women kick Lynch in the genitals and runoff, magically welding shut the door behind her. Now, you have to walk across the roof to the window of her office, and somehow, in a matter of about 5 seconds, she has sprinted (or flown) through the club, down 2 levels and into her office. If you can somehow forget about how in the hell she got to her office so quickly, you’ll have to knock her out and once again go through the club. This time, however, the club has suddenly emptied and what seemed to have been a rather large crowd has now left through the one entrance at the front of the club within a matter of minutes. Again, you’ll have to shoot your way through a dark club, back onto the roof. Believe us when we say this: it’s more frustrating than it sounds.
And then it’s over…
While the storyline is executed well enough, the single-player is far too short. You can easily shoot through it in one or two sittings of a few hours each and then you’ll only want to play through it again in Co-Op mode if anything. The game as a whole isn’t good enough to justify another play-through on your own. Beyond that, the multiplayer is rather interesting. Fragile Alliance pits you in a team that has to shoot their way through a level and reach the end. Once all of the surviving players finish, a share of the stolen loot is distributed. So, the more players that die before reaching the end, the more there is on offer for those who survive. You can also kill off other players, which sets the tone for a lot of backstabbing and betrayal. While the idea is original, it gets old fast and it turns into more of a survival of the fittest more than a team-based mode and most games include players shooting at each other as well as enemy AI.
Kane and Lynch: Dead Men isn’t the game it could have been. What it is is a game that has great storyline elements, cool cut scenes and great, often humorous, banter between Kane and Lynch. IO Interactive seem to have a team worthy of coming up with ideas, but not one worthy of executing them. The two main characters have been created well and help generate the right type of feel towards the plot and ideas.