2007 Reviews

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men

  • Review Date: 2011-10
  • Release Date: 2007-11
  • Developer: IO Interactive
  • Rating: 6.0

Coming from IO Interactive, I wasn't expecting a hit in Kane & Lynch. Their last game; Hitman Blood Money in 2006 gave no hints that the studio is capable of a classic. It's hard to expect anything great from a shooter in 2007 that only lasts around five hours.

Blood Money I couldn't even finish. Half way through the combat was rubbish and the levels were boring and small. Kane & Lynch gets off to a bad start with the first level looking like it came out of 2005's F.E.A.R. but with brightness cranked up. The warehouse, bank, city streets, awful looking nightclub, freeway, construction site, prison, skyscraper and tokyo streets levels all follow, and none of them are particularly impressive. Apart from perhaps the start of the skyscraper where you rappel down the side with an entire city on display far, far below. That was a great scene, but only lasts ten seconds. These levels all feel very washy, lacking any kind of exquisite detail or impressiveness. They look 2005/2006, not late 2007.

But things pick up a fair bit once the game moves to Cuba in the middle of a civil war. Then you trek through the Venezuela jungle to find the antagonist's base. These aren't fresh settings, they've all been done to death. And the outdoors areas are almost laughable compared to games like Crysis. But at least it's more visually interesting than the plain concrete grey that makes up the earlier levels.

The levels are also all fairly small and linear. Not a huge departure from Blood Money really. The graphics and design are adequate, but there's tonnes of 2007 titles that look better than Kane & Lynch.

The combat takes place from third person but to one side of the player model. This was a bad decision because many times you'll have your sights directly on an enemy while slightly behind cover, but your gun just hits your cover instead of where you're actually aiming. There's no obstacles between the camera and your sights, but because the gun is held off to one side it hits things it shouldn't and you've got to move completely out of cover to hit them properly. It doesn't happen often, but the times it does is enough. It should have been fixed.

There's also a Gears Of War cover system where you can lean up against objects and aim you're sights around at the enemies.. It works okay, but getting into cover is sometimes unreliable while other times you'll go into cover when you didn't want to. It's a feature that wasn't really needed.

The weapons are all fine. They're not pin-point accurate and you'll often have bullets spraying around the enemy. Ammo is sometimes unlimited, while other times you have to go back to your team-mates to restock until they run out. Also when die you can be revived by a team-mate, but it usually only works once. It was a ice little feature though, meaning I often didn't have to replay from a checkpoint when I or my team-mates died.

Kane & Lynch, being console focused, only has checkpoints. But it's a terrible system where you can't manually load one of your checkpoints. So if you quit the game you have to start the entire level again. That's just damn lazy from IO Interactive. At the end of the game you have two choices; one ends the game prematurely while the other gives you a final level to play. I chose the former, but then had to play the entire level again just to choose the other option. I've no idea why they gave this option anyway; the game is already too short and the 'Choice' level is easy and over in several minutes. It's hardly a final battle. The level that follows is perhaps the best in the game and should be mandatory, although again not that hard. No bosses here.

Where Kane & Lynch shines is the story; an area where most action games fall flat. It's the usual cliche B-grade action flick about a gang member (Kane), whom you play, that stole from his gang and now they want whatever it was (which is never even fucking revealed!) back, and have kidnapped your ex-wife and daughter to make sure you get it. Lynch, an older guy who reminds me of an older, balder version of Michael Douglas in Falling Down; is also part of the gang and comes along for the ride to help you get it back while reporting your actions back. Lynch is where the game excels; he's a hilarious character, even with some backstory, that has major schizophrenic issues and fucks everything up. If there's a hostage, he'll panic and kill them. If civilians are running around trying to get away, he panics and kills them. Kane and Lynch are constantly at ends with one another mostly because of Lynch's profanity-filled constant complaining about everything.

Kane & Lynch is even being turned into a movie with the most absurd casting; Bruce Willis playing the YOUNG Kane, and Jamie Foxx playing the older crazy Lynch. That's right, a 56 year old has-been is playing the younger Kane, with a black man the schizophrenic Lynch; Billy Bob Thornton or John Malkovich would be a more appropriate choice for Lynch.

Movie aside, the problem is while Lynch is amusing, both characters are complete assholes. In fact, I don't even want to play as Kane because I don't like him or sympathise with him at all.

Kane & Lynch is an average game at best. The combat is fun enough, but it'll only keep you busy for a day and isn't really worth playing it if you missed it in 2007.