Kane & Lynch: Dead Men Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Adam Marcus and James Lynch (who’ll you come to know as the titular Kane and Lynch) are an unsavoury duo, one is apparently a traitor and the other apparently murdered his wife. That’s not all though, they also could do with getting their mouths washed out with soap such is the profane words that are spoken from them. I can never remember Jak & Daxter doing or saying such things, perhaps Kane and Lynch should look towards them for some inspiration. Then again I think they’re already past help.

The game opens up with Kane and Lynch on their way to be executed for their crimes, although there wouldn’t be much of a game here if the main characters were killed right at the beginning, so obviously they escape to live and kill another day. The relationship between these two balding characters isn’t exactly as solid as a rock, but it makes for some entertaining dialogue. We soon come to learn that Kane certainly has his head screwed on a little tighter than the more regular bearded Lynch (being a psychotic schizophrenic doesn‘t really help matters). The story itself is terrific stuff, with most of it highlighting Kane’s troubles as the7, a group of mercenaries that Kane apparently betrayed in events prior to the beginning of the game, want their money back (and kidnapping Kane’s family is a dirty tactic that sends him into action). There’s a dark sense of humour running throughout (although Kane‘s ultimate story is a sombrely tragic one), and the characters of Kane and Lynch are some of the most likeable and detestable (two polar opposite words that shouldn’t really go together) characters that I have ever come across.

I/O Interactive are perhaps best known for the Hitman series, although Kane & Lynch is much more like Freedom Fighters (another I/O developed and well liked game which was released in 2003) for its similar emphasis on shooting and its use of tactical elements. Whilst Kane & Lynch isn’t a sequel it’s certainly a spiritual successor to the commercially under looked game that was Freedom Fighters (there‘s even a stage that shares that very title).

Whilst Lynch always tags along in the game, if you are playing alone you’ll only be taking control of Kane, although you can order Lynch around if you wish. If you’d rather not be lonely, there’s also a split-screen cooperative option in which another player can don the beard of Lynch. It’s an option that certainly makes sense, and it also allows you to experience moments (Lynch’s hallucinations etc) you’ll miss if you stick solely to the single player game.

As mentioned earlier, Kane & Lynch will have fans of Freedom Fighters reliving some of their best memories of the squad based tactical play. Freedom Fighters had a very approachable set of controls that didn’t require heavy manual reading to get to grips with, and likewise, Kane & Lynch is as pick up and play as a tactical squad game is going to get. You can order a single underling around with the press of a button or you can test all your companions ears and loyalty with a collective order by holding a button down. This is a game that wants to be your friend, and courtesy of those intuitive squad controls, a friend it is.

The AI of your squad is respectable enough just as long as you don’t expect too much from them. Your companions are as loyal as a dog (even if Lynch swears at you when you tell him to do something for you, he’s still as loyal as the rest of them) and will walk blindly into danger if you order them to, although they‘re also pretty capable without you spouting instructions at them. When they do hit the deck, which is normally down to your bad management, an adrenaline shot soon gets them steady on their feet once again (likewise for yourself, although if you go down shortly after rising from the ground once again, another shot of adrenaline will kill you), although this must be administrated within a certain timeframe or your downed buddy will die from his wounds ending the game for yourself.

It’s not all about sending your underlings to do all your work for you though, Kane and Lynch are very capable of looking after themselves, which is handy when people keep trying to kill them. The shooting is satisfying enough, although sadly the targeting seems a little off at times, as bullets miss what they should have hit. Taking cover on the other hand is as simple as approaching the side of the wall or object and Kane or Lynch will then automatically press into it, this occasionally doesn’t happen which is frustrating when lots of lead is ripping through the air and into your skin, although for the majority of the time it’s a great mechanic which allows for jumpy blind fire and manual targeting.

I’ve already mentioned the great coop mode, now it’s time for me to tell you about the excellent Fragile Alliance online and system link mode. The idea is that you begin out as a team of robbers and are required to take down the AI opponents who are shooting at you, pickup money and then before bolting for your transport out of there, you’ll have to ask yourself some questions. Indeed the Fragile of the title is there for a reason as you can opt to turn on your team mates when the time is right, and then take all the cash for yourself. If you die as a robber (whether it’s brought about by the AI or a traitorous team-mate) you’ll respawn as a player enemy (the cops or yakuza etc) and can still win. It’s a real treat of a mode and the potential treachery of yourself or a team mate really adds to the drama.

Kane & Lynch has flashes of graphical brilliance although the overall look is disappointing. The balding characters of Kane and Lynch look fantastic, as do certain stages of the game (which fall to bits pretty nice at times it has to be said, although nowhere near the extent of Midway‘s Stranglehold), but there’s no getting away from the fact that the visuals mostly look dated and a bit sparse in detail.

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men has a sprinkling of problems, although I didn’t find anything severe enough to completely spoil my enjoyment. It’s certainly worth a look if you are a fan of the action or tactical shooter genres or just generally like killing your team-mates in multiplayer games.