Adam Kane was a normal family man once, with a loving wife, a son, a daughter, and no doubt a white house with a white picket fence. That all changed the day Kane’s son shot himself dead with Kane’s gun.
His marriage promptly fell apart, and his wife took their daughter when she left. Without her, Kane fell in with some bad company. He became a negotiator, navigating deals on the wrong side of the law. Then he went on a heist, the heist went bad, and he got arrested. In jail, he meets Lynch.
Lynch has blackouts sometimes. He’s not sure what happens during them; the world just goes away for a while. During one of those blackouts, his wife wound up dead, and Lynch went down for her murder. In jail, he meets Adam Kane.
Now, Kane’s found himself in hock to a major criminal syndicate. If he can get the syndicate the money he owes them, the syndicate will let Kane’s wife and daughter go free. In no event, however, will the syndicate allow Kane to live. He and Lynch, who’s along to make sure Kane does as he’s told, are going to die; it’s just a question of when and at who’s hands.
Kane & Lynch, as the preceding unnecessarily melodramatic summary might indicate, is another dark and amoral crime story from IO Interactive, the developers that occasionally unleash the Hitman series on the world. The game’s story is revealed slowly, through bits and pieces, as you navigate through a series of heavily story-oriented missions. The game is set up, much like the more memorable parts of Hitman, to be as cinematic as possible, with a minimalist HUD and, like Gears of War, no health bar. The screen will tilt and turn red as you take damage, and will slowly return to normal once you stop incurring harm.
You play the game as Kane, who’s considerably more badass than his character background might imply. Lynch is always with you, and under ordinary circumstances, you can direct him using squad-based controls. (Many members of the team that worked on Freedom Fighters are working on Kane & Lynch, so the squad controls for both games are somewhat similar.) In missions where you have additional backup – one mission I was shown involved Kane and his team rappeling down the face of a Japanese office building in order to assassinate a CEO – you can direct them in a similar fashion.
However, Lynch isn’t exactly 100% predictable. Depending on the demands of the plot or whether or not he’s had his medication, Lynch may be manageable, or he may be a complicating factor.
The game itself is high-pitched action with relatively realistic physics and damage. When bullets fly, they’ll shatter glass, destroy cover, blow chunks out of walls, and send bystanders screaming for cover. Imagine a more combat-oriented version of the Hitman games, with a squad at your back and full license to do as you will, and you’ll have a handle on Kane & Lynch.
Eidos is being somewhat cagey about the game at this point. They’ve shown us two levels, neither of which were playable, but both of which were visually interesting in their own right. One was set within a Tokyo dance club, complete with a crowd of hundreds of gyrating partiers that Kane had to navigate through, and the other was the aforementioned office shootout. Both levels were atmospheric and well-animated, in the kind of way that makes you automatically think next-gen. These are the kinds of graphics that cannot be done on a console as we used to know it.
There’s still a lot to learn about Kane & Lynch, such as the rest of the game’s story or what bonuses it might have. I’m particularly interested in finding out whether it’ll fall into the typical pitfalls of a cinematic game, where it’s so busy being a movie it forgets to let you play it, or whether IO and Eidos will find a way to skate through that. Either way, it’s coming out at some point this year.
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