Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
Bus Stations Are never nice places at the best of times - they usually smell a bit like wee, and once, in Bedford bus station, a man of around 60 walked up to me, stared me in the eyes and hooted like an owl.
True story. It was terrifying. This bus station, however, takes the biscuit. My team and 1 are positioned about 20ft above it, coach Ixiys and varied Tokyo public transport devices spread out before us, and the place is in total, utter chaos. Word of the running gun-battle that I've been occupied with for the past 20 minutes has clearly spread - and more than a couple of innocents have been caught in the crossfire, so people are perhaps right to be worried.
Suddenly a few bullets from somewhere graze me, I click for a token over-tlie-shoulder' viewpoint and scour the crowd, trying to make out anyone in uniform and waving a gun. Tiling is, it's hard to make them out among hundreds of people, and as I do so I barely notice the SWAT team trucks pulling in at the bus station gates to herald yet another outing in bloody street combat.
If you're late to the Dead Men party, then perhaps a recap is in order. It's a hefty plot, but its liare bones are that Kano, the disgruntled chap I'm playing, may or may not have betrayed a shadowy brotherhood of arch-crims known as The Seven - stealing a heap of cash and logging it to Venezuela.
Once there, lie's captured by the authorities and sentenced to death by the US for his many crimes. The Seven, however, sprinq him from a prison truck and imminent peril, then blackmail him into retrieving the lost cash through threatening the lives of his estranged family. Lynch, a psychotic maniac due to bo imprisoned because he may or may not have murdered his wife, is placed as a constant watchdog over Kane to ensure that he follows the crime syndicate's wishes to the letter. Kind-hearted, rough-and-tumble light comedy this most certainly is not.
Nine months ago, at the game's announcement, I bore witness to Kane, Lynch and varied hoodlums abseiling down a tower block, murdering a roomful of armed businessmen, stealing a briefcase and descending through the guts of a Tokyo skyscraper - eliminating both life and the quality of many and varied interior furnishings. Today, I play its conclusion; a street fight ripped straight from Michael Mann masterpiece Heat.
It begins with lift doors pinging open - revealing myself and my contingent of mentalists clad in token smart suits -and a stunning view from the officeblock's vestibule balcony of hundreds of screaming people piling towards the exit with their hands waving in a traditional worried manner.
Now, the usual thing to do at this point is to nonchalantly walk towards the exit with an air of, 'Well, I didn't have anything to do with the 50 ragdoll Yakuza bodies lying around upstairs'.
Play It Again
What I choose to do however (purely with the pursuit of journalistic integrity in mind) is run up and throw a grenade into the seething mass of people. Just imagine my disgust when the impact of the explosion sends a shitload of innocent people cartwheeling in every direction. I'm so disgusted, that I turn the game off, restart and do the exact same thing again - just to check that I'm disgusted to that high level all over again. Reader, I am.
Out on the street, and police cars are beginning to appear. Cover is important in K&L, so we spray fire from the skyscraper's entrance with an eye on thinning out the opposition a little. Already, things feel a little slower-paced than lo's last outing in sguad combat, Freedom Fighters, and a little more stressful too - since with so much chaos being stuffed into affairs, the game makes it deliberately hard to keep tabs on everything that's going on. Occasionally, the zip of a low-passing bullet is the only sign of the police appearing behind you when you're least expecting it.
Time To Go
Still, the time has come to move on out; a moment somewhat helped by the Tokyo police force's odd insistence on cowering behind their overwhelmingly explosive vehicles - which is perhaps an oversight in their vigorous training regime.
With the squad controls, I can point and click orders for my crew members - telling them to fill certain law enforcers or areas with lead, move them about the place and call them closer to me. In terms of armaments, meanwhile, I'm carrying a pistol and a higher-powered assault weapon, alongside what must constitute vast pocketfuls of tear-gas and grenades - switching between them (and swapping weapons with your cohorts) with the analogue-stick-friendly radial inventory system that's so in vogue at the moment.
A sniper appears on an overpass up ahead and shoots me dead - leaving me bloodied, blank-screened and grimacing as I listen to aural flashbacks to even nastier sections of Kane's life. ThankfLilly though, both myself and my crew are equipped with magic adrenalin syringes, so I'm back on my feet and ready to be shot in the head once more in no time. Further down the street, SWAT teams have appeared brandishing shields and ever more iwwerful weapons, and we desperately try to fight our way back to our delayed getaway driver and safety.
Feel The Kane
It's fun. this horrible urban massacre, but I do wonder if it truly is the next great hurrah in third-person action I want it to be. Cinematic and neat as its art-style may be, there's an odd hum of the last-generation about the game. Sure, certain bits of the environment can be destroyed, but it's no Stranglehold, the street combat is intense but not up to GRAW standards, and explosions aren't up to any action game we've seen in the past year. Squad controls, meanwhile, need prodigious tightening to meet Io's former Freedom Fighters benchmark, where ease, fluidity and constant awareness of the whereabouts of squad-members seemed effortless.
As much as I dislike rumbling discontent when there's still time for remedies, an element of caution should be taken with these astounding-looking screenshots, and also a brief note that the game isn't expected to last far beyond the eight-hour mark. Then again, there's still the iron-clad storyline, a beefy script with decent characters and a catalogue of destruction in many and varied cinematic guises; from bank jobs to prison breaks and all the way to large-scale tactical warfare, with each of your crew having their own satellite crew members to be launched into the fray.
Add in co-op mode (potentially with whoever's playing as Lynch having manic episodes and needing " Kane to knock him back into sanity), and you've still got a highly promising game here - just as long as the control and squad kinks are ironed out. The chaps at Io aren't known for dropping the ball though, so I still have faith. A concept this damn good shouldn't be wasted.
Download Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode