Intriguing is by far the best word to describe IO Interactive’s upcoming action game: Kane and Lynch: Dead Men. Realizing there has been a continuous influx and, consequently, an overpopulation of games in the first-person shooter market, the talented developers have decided to draw from their Hitman roots and create a new breed of intensity and immersion, which is so far unmatched by any next-generation title to date.
Kane and Lynch largely emphasizes the mismatch of character types. IO has created a fascinating character backdrop for both Kane and Lynch, respectively. While the characters are completely different from each other, their former lives have both been shattered and destroyed by two tragedies, which brings together the premise of the game. IO is trying to show that although these men have their own personalities and completely different former lifestyles, they are both out to prove their name for good.
Once working as a normal civilian, Kane’s life is turned on its head when he finds his son dead. Upon entering his father’s room, Kane’s son found his gun and subsequently, for an unknown reason, shot himself. With no actual evidence to point to suicide, and with Kane the only person at the crime scene, his very own wife blames him for the murder. He runs away, but with nowhere to go. Years later, Kane is found working as a mercenary in the gritty suburbs of South America. Working under a different alias for an ambiguous group known as ‘The Seven’, Kane finds himself in equally bad fortune when his fellow team members are shot dead. And while he escapes with a nice share of diamonds, Kane is later caught and sentenced to death. With once again nothing to prove his innocence, Kane thinks he has finally met his fate. But, while on the bus heading to the execution area, he meets a troubled mind in the form of Lynch.
Lynch is billed as a forty-something normal class man, suffering from an acute case of schizophrenia. While he is not normally known to be volatile, Lynch must consistently take medication in order to keep his mental problems under wraps. After missing a dose, however, Lynch falls unconscious and awakes to find his wife brutally murdered. With no remembrance of anything that happened between the times he was knocked out and the time he woke, Lynch does not actually know whether he could have, himself, committed the disgraceful deed. With a misfortune similar to Kane’s, he is caught at the scene and sentenced to death row.
Kane and Lynch take up conversation that only doomed men can share; contemplating their final minutes on earth. The bus takes an unscheduled journey and is seized by Kane’s former employers, The Seven. After cleaning out the bus, The Seven hire Lynch and pair him up with an understandably unwilling Kane in order to reclaim the diamonds Kane lost on the journey back to North America.
Although the game allows you to control two playable characters, Kane and Lynch will mainly put you in the shoes of Kane in order to experience some of the different governing attributes he has over Lynch. He is billed as being far more professional than the two, and has more than a personality resemblance to Agent 47 of the Hitman series. While you will only take control of one character at a time, more often than not you will be given the opportunity to lead and command fellow squad members who will accompany you from time to time. IO is quick to stress that all of the missions will provide an integral opportunity to utilize your squad. Each member will have different fortes when it comes to completing missions. Some, for instance, will have modern technology in order to complete certain ‘lesser’ objectives.
The team in action...
Weaponry will come in the form of The Seven's own unique creations. Although standard infantry weaponry will of course be selectable, some of the most interesting guns will come from your employers. Shotguns, rifles, pistols and pretty much the majority of things you can think of will all be offered to the troublesome pair to get the job done. They will not only impress with their primary fire, but with The Seven also adding things such as grenade launchers for secondary fire, carnage will be caused in copious amounts. IO have also made sure that selecting each weapon is as easy as possible, and have given you a ‘quick-draw’ interface in order to equip weaponry in a flash.
Interaction is also something that IO Interactive really wanted to showcase on both the Xbox 360 and PC. Aside from destructible environments, the game will feature incredible interaction with people. In a demonstration shown at Leipzig’s GC show, Kane was seen wading through crowds in a club counting past the hundreds. The party was certainly wild, with every single NPC looking completely unique and with each acting different according to their position. By far the most amazing feature of this scene was the interaction Kane had with the crowd. As he was making his way through, the NPC’s didn’t just ‘slide’ to the side, Kane actually pushed them out of the way. Due to the incredibly intelligent AI, they all reacted accordingly and were not very pleased with the rudeness displayed by Kane.
Missions are based on the decisions that you the player make through the exploitation of the character’s traits. Kane will draw upon his mercenary roots and will want to go through objectives in the quietist way possible, all while bringing the murder count down as much as he can. Lynch, on the other hand, is completely different. He feels that run-and-gun tactics will get the job done much quicker, even disregarding innocents in the area. It is up to you as the player do decide which option you would like to take, as they all affect the outcome of each mission. Trying to kidnap someone with Kane, for instance, will probably allow you to get it done with no questions asked. With Lynch, the target could be alerted to your plans far quicker, and will thus try everything in their command to stop you.
Kane and Lynch cleaning up...
Already an impressive title due to the chilling story and intelligent AI, the graphics in Kane and Lynch don’t disappoint. With hundreds of NPC’s on the screen at any given time, and entire landscapes rendered procedurally, it is amazing to witness the sheer detail on everything. With a smooth framerate, you can truly take in all that the game has to offer when presented with some of its more clustered levels. The game also features a fantastic HDR lighting system, which really stood out during the club level. Floodlights would generate random colors and cast incredibly soft shadows on the characters around it. Speaking of characters, they, too, are very detailed indeed, borrowing from Mass Effects facial animation system. What this means is that every character will showcase an expression depending on their mood. If they are angry, they will frown and their eyebrows will lower. Likewise, a happy character will grin and show a wide range of different muscle movements.
On the outset, Kane and Lynch looks like a simple action title. Delving deeper into its mechanics, however, we see how unique the game is. It takes some elements that have made past games largely successful and introduces its own formula. With Eidos Interactive providing guidance, as usual, this could turn out to be a brilliant game, one that may capture the minds (and time) of gamers everywhere.