Thursday, November 22, 2007

Kane and Lynch: Dead Men (X360) - Review

this review originally posted on Gamer's Temple.

Player(s): 1-2, co-op: 2, system link: 1-8
Memory: 60KB
HD Support: 720p/1080i/1080p
Sound Support: Dolby Digital, custom soundtrack
Achievements: 47
Xbox LIVE Support: online multiplayer: 4-8, leaderboards, voice chat

Developer IO Interactive first shocked gamers around the world with their Hitman series a few years back. Straying away from the stealth gameplay of Hitman, they have now taken a chance on an action-based crime story, Kane and Lynch. Kane and Lynch captures the overall atmosphere and style of gameplay that fans expect from IO Interactive while taking a break from most of the stealth elements from their most popular series.

While on his way to his execution, Kane is broken out of a police van through an outside interference and Lynch, one of the fellow prisoners, revitalizes Kane with adrenaline and the two escape from the police. The group that broke him out of the police van (known as The7, a group that Kane previously worked with) orders Kane to find a stash of loot that he took from them in exchange for his wife's and daughter's lives. With the help of Lynch, Kane sets out to retrieve the stolen loot and save his family.

The story takes place in many different areas that are far different from each other, so you're constantly placed in fresh surroundings. The game's atmosphere can get quite immersive throughout the stages. There is one nightclub area that Kane and Lynch must work their way through in order to meet-up with a certain person. Before long, guns are fired and the whole crowd inside goes frantic during the middle of the gunfight - it's quite an eye-pleasing experience. Other stages will take you through many buildings and city streets and many other areas as cops and other groups pursue you.

For a game that is called "Kane and Lynch", one would think we would learn some information about both characters equally, but the majority of the plot deals with Kane. Lynch's past is basically only hinted at through his actions and the dialogue between the two - Lynch appears to be a very troubled character with quite a past too! Even though the story mainly focuses on Kane, he is a very strong character and the entire game is very character driven even in Lynch's case. We learn much about Kane and Lynch's personality through their cutscene and in-game dialogue and they are both interesting characters that make a great team.

The overall gameplay is pretty standard third person run and gun. There are a few breaks in the gunplay such as repelling down a building or meeting up with a certain person, but for the most part you'll be shooting quite a bit.

Shootouts require you to take cover any place that you can find it. Walk up to the edge of a wall and Kane will automatically lean up against it. This automatic cover system can lead to problems where Kane will not lean up against a wall or face a desired direction at times, but for the most part it works well once you get used to it. While leaning up against a wall, Kane can lean out and aim or he can target an enemy and fire blindly. Blind fire reduces accuracy quite a bit, but it works quite well for tense shootouts.

The camera stays behind Kane while moving and can be rotated with the right analog. Hold L trigger to aim and the game will switch over to an over the shoulder view with a slightly bigger targeting cursor. Even while aiming, the targeting cursor is quite small and I had a few problems with it getting lost among white building walls, but it can be seen well for most areas despite that discrepancy.

Kane always has a partner with him and commands can be issued out to the partner through a simplistic controller command scheme. Select from partners using the Directional Pad and choose between X, Y, and B to make a partner follow Kane, attack a target, or move to a location respectively. Tap the button to make the currently selected partner perform the command and hold the button to make the whole squad perform the command. It's an easy system that really helps out for some stages. The game doesn't require one to get accustomed to dishing out commands since the partners act on their own unless ordered and most areas can be approached with Kane alone; still, utilizing the command system helps to make some areas easier.

Sometimes the allies can get annoying while trying to aim. There were several instances where an ally was too close to me and I could only see the back of their head while in aiming mode from my perfect covered spot. A few times an ally would run right in front of my cursor while I was shooting as well.

There is no life bar at all and no health items. Once Kane receives enough damage, the screen will turn a transparent red color and the next hit will knock Kane down. Any player can be revived through the use of adrenaline. An ally will give Kane a shot of adrenaline to revive him and the same must be done for allies once they fall. Failure to revive an ally will result in a game over. If a player is revived with too much adrenaline (usually two within a few minutes) then that player will automatically die from an overdose, so you can't just rely on adrenaline shots all the time. As you might expect, this system really helps out for unexpected ambushes in a stage. It seems that Kane is always the center of attention in a gunfight, so he gets shot quite a bit!

The sound is quite good, ranging from mainly quiet music that helps to set up the dark and dreary story for Kane. The dialogue is well written and the voices match the characters well. F-bombs are shouted out quite often, which one would expect from a crime drama. Dialogue is actually spoken during game loading screens, so you get filled-in on the current situation while waiting for the game to load.

In-game character models are very detailed, especially in the case of Kane. His whole face reveals quite a violent past through his bandaged broken nose and facial scar trailing along the left side of his face. Unlike the usual young protagonist, Kane and Lynch are both older as shown with their bald spots and wrinkles. Environments are rendered well and lighting effects are very realistic at certain points. The nightclub area is basically the highlight of the game's overall environmental presentation - it really is beautiful.

The game can be played cooperatively with up to 8 players via Xbox LIVE while playing in the mode known as "Fragile Alliance". Fragile Alliance allows a player to hook up with other mercenaries and perform a bank heist. Stay together and perform the job with the whole team or kill some team members and take their share of the loot thereby breaking the alliance and rendering you a traitor. Once the alliance is broken, the whole group must focus on killing the traitor. Players will respawn as a cop once killed and will gain a 10% bonus for any loot seized by them. The main story mode can be played with 2 players - one player controls Kane while the other player controls Lynch. It is played in a split screen format and each player has different objectives to accomplish per stage.

The story mode will last you for about a good 7-8 hours so the game is about average length. The difficulties range from easy, normal, and hard. There is an achievement for completing hard difficulty but there are no unlockables associated with beating the game on any level.

Kane and Lynch: Dead Men is a real good pickup for someone that doesn't mind the standard run and gun gameplay mixed with an interesting story. The story has a unique atmospheric feel to it that IO interactive is known for.

The Good:

+ Interesting story and characters
+ Immersive atmosphere
+ Simple yet useful partner system
+ Online multiplayer through Fragile Alliance and 2 player co-op play

The Bad:

- Small white aiming cursor can get lost in backgrounds
- AI of allies can get annoying at times

Graphics: 8.5
Controls: 8.0
Sound: 9.0
Gameplay: 8.0

Kane and Lynch is quite a good crime drama experience and serves as a plausible move away from the Hitman stealth series that IO Interactive is very well known for.

And therefore Berserker dubs thee: 8.4/10

1 comment:

Berserker said...

I would just like to say that the multiplayer description in this review is taken from the instruction manual since I don't have LIVE yet.

I felt the need to add a brief overview of Fragile Alliance since just about every other review mentions it. I made sure not to add any opinions on it since those opinions wouldn't be mine, just a description.

Just felt like mentioning that for those that know I have a lousy connection.