Kane & Lynch: Dead Men

a review of Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
a videogame developed by io interactive
and published by eidos interactive
for Microsoft Windows, the microsoft xbox and the sony playstation 3 computer entertainment system
text by Brandon Parker

2 stars

Bottom line: Kane & Lynch: Dead Men is “like playing a videogame adaptation of some badass film of myth and legend; it's still like playing a licensed videogame.”

My brother is something of a gun and warfare connoisseur, while historically, I’m the more medicated of the Parker Brothers. Much like Kane and Lynch, on their hell-bound quest of greed and vengeance, we too are on a hell-bound quest for a good cooperative game. And a game that already has us screaming at each other as part of the story to begin with, me shooting innocent bystanders while he tries to proceed tactically, well what could we do? We were helpless, it seemed, as if it were designed specifically for us and us alone.  Unfortunately I must report that Kane & Lynch is not the perfect game it should have been.

 

Everyone knows a videogame based on a movie is a stuffty thing. We learn this as children. They’ve got all the movie’s 1-2 minute realistic looking action scenes drawn out to ridiculous hour long John Woo-ish shootout levels, with the actual story edited down to some cheaply animated cutscene, or maybe just some text on a loading screen.Kane & Lynch is not based on a film, at least not one in particular or officially, but playing the thing you’d think you were playing a mediocre game adaptation of what must be the single most badass film ever. A film so badass anyone who watches it is rendered impotent or insane, the only way we could possible hope to experience it safely is through some stuffty game adaptation, acting as a sort of thick concrete barrier against such a radiation bath of pure awesomeness.

Looking at the concept art for the game, you can see all sorts of cool stuff going on. Kane grabbing Lynch in a bank lobby, screaming as bullets are flying past, while Lynch just gives him the ol’ “I didn’t mean to murder all the hostages” look. Or the two of them in a car together yelling at each other with some taped up terror-stricken tart in the back seat.

My friends, listen, we need that sort of stuff in the actual game. Don’t just draw that up then stick it in a drawer and forget about it. And if you do throw a driving part into the next game you don’t automatically have to make it into some getaway action scene with stuffty driving mechanics. Maybe they want to get some food at a drive-in restrurant and while they are sitting there enjoying their food, the nice weather, talking about the next big score, maybe then a patrol car spots them and then you can turn it into a mini-game with stuffty driving physics if you want.  I’m not asking for Metal Gear-esque hour long cutscenes in every game, unless you want to, if you want, that is, it’s up to you. Just something to liven up this nonstop shooting really. Let’s see Kane and Lynch doing something normal in between these levels or something.

At the beginning of one level Lynch mentions having taken the last of his pills on the plane ride. Well why not let us see that plane ride? What drove him to take his last pill? Some kid kicking his seat? Some annoying old lady trying to get chatty with him? Kane and Lynch’s airplane adventure, why not. Something to help the illusion that these a real people, not videogame characters who do nothing but constantly shoot stuff.

There is one part of the game where it skips in the story a little, suddenly showing the characters in a war torn country, in military garb and sporting beards. Now, that time it was awesome. So you have to figure this out Io, and know when to skip around and when to show us what these guys are doing in between the 3d shooting gallery parts, because I won’t always be there for you.

 

There’s a little trailer deal for the game out there. It’s just shows some closed elevator doors while you hear Kane and Lynch talk about Grand Theft Auto 4 being delayed. For some reason it’s just supposed to be some stupid “just for laughs” internet trailer, but that’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about here that needs to be in the actual game. That irks me to no end that they didn’t put that in the game, or that they just thought something like that was nothing more than a “joke” or whatever. To me, that’s the whole thing right there.

 

The biggest problem with the game though, is a music one.  That badass theme they play in all the trailers and on the website?  Where the hell was that during the game?  Nowhere.  Mostly it’s just some depressing Silent Hill sounding stuff.  I thought I’d be doing all sorts of heists and what have you to that music.  When I saw it listed in the credits as “trailer music,” I have to say, a part of me felt violated.  Conned at the least.

Io Interactive had a good idea, it was: “Flawed Mercenary and Medicated Psychopath pull heists and stuff, co-op!” They plastered it all over their press releases and the back of the damn box, they constantly pistol-whipped you with the idea the whole time they were hyping the game up and always with the same wording. They really wanted to emphasize how flawed Kane is, how medicated Lynch is, and boy what a ticking time bomb their relationship is. I’m sure if you looked it up, you’d see they’ve probably got a copyright on “mercenary who is not perfect and unstable man with a condition operating in conjunction,” or something. They really liked this idea, they just forgot to make the game as good as the idea, is what happened.

They were hoping that if their idea was good enough to get a movie deal and sequel before the first damn game is even finished, then maybe it was good enough to carry their generic shooting game all by itself. Maybe it would have if they didn’t leave all the good music out, I don’t know. But I won’t settle for secondhand awesome next time. I’d like to believe they love the idea behind their game, as I do, and I hope that next time they just show it the proper care and guidance it needs. Kane and Lynch just need love and attention, that’s all.

–Brandon Parker

Comments

2 Responses to Kane & Lynch: Dead Men

  1. it’s kind of rare when the product of one medium seems like it was designed clearly with another medium in mind.

    like what was that movie? shoot-em up? wasn’t there a scene where guys, after falling out of a plane, are having a gun fight in the hecking air? an equally gun-filled sex scene? why hasn’t this been optioned as a videogame? i mean…the genre is in the friggin name.

    shoot-em up, crank, six string samauri…..all movies that seem like they were based on video games first.

    fight club is a great book, but the reason it’s culturally remembered is the visually stimulating movie of the same name. (and then they made a video game out of it, completely missing the message but that’s another point altogether.)

    sometimes things just belong in a separate medium.

    i hear that there in talks to get bruce willis and i think billy bob thorton to play the title roles.

  2. The day they make the first Buddy Game is the day I die a happy man. I’m glad Eidos got the idea in Kane & Lynch. It’s too bad they ruined it so thoroughly.

    There truly is nothing to satisfying, to me, as cooperative gameplay. And the fewer people I’m cooperating with, the better. My fondest memories in gaming are Rainbow Six: Raven Shield, for Christ’s sake, a game that no one’s fondest gaming memories should come from. The reason: I played it with one other person, a good friend of mine, for hours and hours, until we were a well-oiled terrorist elimination machine. It was beauty, and it was joy. If someone could make a console game that could encapsulate that feeling instantaneously, without the tweaking and the time and the work, it would be an emotional – yes – achievement til now unmatched in the medium.

    Too bad we seem to be still so far away.

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