Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a video game that would let you act out on your darkest impulse? It’s the sort of impulse that would return both a reward and severe consequence if pursued in reality. Shooting heroin. Spearheading bank heists. Aside from the issue of law enforcement, there’s a deeper level of danger involved with Kane & Lynch’s line of work. Once you get involved with these kinds of people, if you ever try to revert back to your normal way of life they’ll either do you in or you’ll do that dirty work for them.
Playing Kane & Lynch is experiencing this loss of innocence through an estranged and delusional main character. Kane persistently feels responsible for the destruction of his own family, due to his involvement with a criminal group, The7. Dropped into the fray without any pretenses, your perspective is immediately distorted from the third person. Walking off the groggy haze, you’ll find Lynch, your literal partner in crime, filling a police officer with lead. Need a big gun? Introduce a cop to the business end of your handy knife and steal his.
More crew members tag along in the middle of the game, providing absent-minded cannon fodder for the enemy. When they’re not dying, they’ll rush to your aid when you’ve fallen and disagree with your choices on three different commands you can bark out at them. The AI’s particularly insufficient at firing at the hip, which is almost necessary for evasion.
To deny Kane & Lynch’s avant-garde appeal would be to ignore the title’s purport entirely. Kane is a strung out convict re-entering society in the most felonious fashion. Cut-scenes detail his downward spiral through faded character interactions. These come off as chilling, if not abstract due to the often lopsided context. Just don’t expect your mind to compass Kane & Lynch’s aesthetic, which is perpetually narcissistic and backwards. It’s counter-intuitive, lessening the appeal always, furthering the plot never.
Thankfully, the multiplayer is endowed with several brilliant concepts. The potential here is limitless as it exemplifies all of the game’s best features. Unfortunately, this is also confined very securely to 4 maps, without gameplay variations. You’ll start on a team of mercenaries, with CPU players following their scripted routes exactly. The object is to grab the loot and cut to the getaway van (or chopper, in one level). Die and you’ll become a copper. Die again and you’re out for the round. Although it doesn’t sound much, your interaction with other Xbox LIVE gamers will improve the experience manifold. If more than one mercenary escapes from the level, their forced to split the loot evenly. Betraying fellow mercs will make it so you don’t have to share your portion of the loot, but also puts a bounty on your head for mercs and cops alike. The experience will be prolonged by your TrueSkill rankings, which provide cooler clothing options for players who are performing above par in their heists. It’s all very satisfying and CounterStrike esque.
The single-player/co-op mode is underwhelming at best. With poor AI and thematic blurring, even the easiest difficulty – Aspirin – will leave you with a throbbing headache. Despite Kane & Lynch: Dead Men’s relatively short length (think one sitting, if not two), the multi-player should satiate gamers suffering from Splinter Cell or Hitman withdrawals.
Seven out of ten
- Great online play
- Constantly gloomy atmosphere is befitting
- Poor single-player
- Underwhelming execution
- Brevity, lack of content