reviews\ Nov 25, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men - 360 - Review

When the man known as Kane met a frightening-looking man named Lynch, all hell broke loose. Perhaps it was that glassy look in his eyes or the fact that he mumbled something to himself, but Kane knew he was in trouble the very second Lynch forced him to follow him out of the transport vehicle that was taking these two death-row inmates to their execution. Kane & Lynch: Dead Men might sound like a buddy action film but these two men aren’t buddies and their crime spree is actually interesting but the game itself just isn’t as good as it could have been considering the fact that this game is brought to us by the creators of the Hitman series.


Playing the game solo will put players in direct control of Kane, a mercenary sent to prison after being caught during a particular job for a criminal organization called The 7. This crime syndicate believes that Kane stole a vast sum of money on the last job so they send in Lynch - a pill-popping psychopath who isn’t able to quiet the voice in his head that makes him a most dangerous killer. Together, the two men escape and, as Kane is brought before the organization, are tasked with getting back the missing money or Kane’s wife and daughter will meet an unfortunate end. Of course, the two do not really get along and Lynch is an unstable force that even a dangerous man like Kane can’t keep from going over the edge.

The problem is that both characters lack personality and while they are as different as night and day, there is nothing that will make them seem likeable enough to want to cheer for them. Both characters don’t even qualify being called anti-heroes but Eidos and Io-Interactive did a magnificent job of setting up some truly exciting moments in the game. Sure, gamers will not warm up to the characters but it’s the level scenarios that really stand out in this game. Early in the game, Kane and Lynch travel to Tokyo to get part of the money from a Yakuza crime boss. In order to get the crime boss’ attention, though, the pair kidnaps that man’s daughter in her busy nightclub. In the game’s most memorable scene, the two lunatics grab the woman and attempt to escape the club while club goers are dancing to the pulse-pounding dance music.

There are also other defining moments in the game that are delightfully memorable. For instance, there is a level where Kane, Lynch and a safecracker decide to break into a bank vault. The bank robbery doesn’t go smoothly and the result is a bullet-fueled battle against the police as the crew attempts to escape the bank in a level that feels like a scene in the movie “Heat.” We get to play out the escape, including a shootout in the freeway as the getaway van is swerving through traffic. There’s a level where you’ll be attempting to escape sniper fire as a picture-in-picture box pops up that allows you to see that the sniper is looking at you through the scope.


As fast-paced and action-packed as these scenarios are the controls aren’t as fluid or as elegant as other games in this genre. Kane leans against surfaces and he can even fire blindly from cover but it just isn’t as slick as Gears of War. If you play the game as a single-player deal, you can issue commands to Lynch such as head for cover or fire at a specific target. Of course, there’s always the co-op route that allows a second player to take control of Lynch. While you can’t play cooperatively online, the offline action runs smoothly and you can help each another by offering the other ammo clips or coordinate attacks.

Unfortunately, the enemy AI is very erratic. Sometimes they are smart enough to take cover or move when their cover is compromised and many of them are actually good shots. On the other hand, there are moments when they attempt to rush you even though it will mean their deaths. If you saw your comrade get shot from one position, would you rush out in the same way or move to a better vantage point? Lynch can also be pretty dumb - which is why it’s best to play this game with a friend - and oftentimes will not cover you during gunfights. Really, the only thing he’s good for is if you’ve been brought down by an enemy he will automatically stick you with a shot of adrenalin and bring you back to life (this can only be done once per level).

The real treat comes from playing the game online with up to eight players. The featured game mode is called Fragile Alliance where you start off as a single crew working together to pull off a major heist. The twist here is that only one player can escape with the score so you can turn on your crew in order to secure the score all to yourself. Once you become a traitor, fellow crewmembers will attempt to take you down or each another down in order to win the match. The problem is that there are security guards and other armed response units to deal with during a match. In essence, the online multiplayer mode is the reason you will still be playing this game.

The game’s visuals aren’t very impressive either and there is very little here that looks like it belongs on the Xbox 360. That is not to say that the game looks entirely awful but the character models could have looked a lot better. While the faces are handled nicely, everything else just resembles visuals straight out of the original Xbox. Even the special effects are not as good as in other games. There are some nice backgrounds, though, and certain areas like the Tokyo nightclub look great.


There is, however, a great voice-acting cast that makes the dialogue sound as if it belongs in a crime movie. The snappy lines give the pair something of a personality but be warned that the game uses a considerable amount of profanity throughout the game. There is also a good score that makes up for the slightly muffled sound effects and it gets appropriately dramatic in all the right places.

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men for the Xbox 360 had the potential of being a stellar crime drama but, thanks to a few gameplay issues, two forgettable main characters and weak visuals, this action-packed game just feels like a dated shooter with very little substance. This is too bad, really, since there are some intense moments in the game and there’s also an interesting online multiplayer mode worth a second (or third) glance. We have seen better from the creators of the Hitman series but this is still a game you should play even as a weekend rental.

Review Scoring Details for Kane & Lynch: Dead Men

Gameplay: 7.0
As a single-player experience, the game doesn’t seem to have the right feel to make it worth going through solo. The shootouts and interesting scenarios are best played cooperatively with a friend and with enough guns the action does get delightfully intense. It’s just too bad the ride is just way too short.

Graphics: 6.5
The game’s dated graphics can be a bit disappointing to gamers expecting this game to take advantage of the Xbox 360’s graphics capabilities but there are moments when the game does look good and certain backgrounds do stand out. Still, gamers won’t be able to feel as though the character models could have looked better than what is featured here.

Sound: 8.5
Both Kane and Lynch sound the way you would expect two hardened and psychotic individuals to sound and the rest of the cast do a good job as well. There is a good soundtrack here but I do wish the sound effects were handled better.

Difficulty: Medium
The enemies you will encounter range from smart to really dumb and there are moments when you will be overwhelmed by the number of enemies on screen. There are some interesting challenges scattered throughout the game and enemy snipers do a great job of trying to force you out of your hiding place.

Concept: 7.0
Both Kane and Lynch aren’t very interesting characters but their plight will not fail to entertain. There are some good scenarios here and a deeply involving online and offline multiplayer mode that will be the reason you will still be playing the game.

Multiplayer: 8.5
This game was certainly made for cooperative play so you will want to grab a friend and tackle the main story mode together. Sadly, co-op is restricted to offline play but the game makes up for this unfortunate blunder by making the Fragile Alliance online multiplayer mode loads of fun.

Overall: 7.0
Despite a few unforgettably stand-out moments and a deeply enjoyable multiplayer mode, Kane & Lynch is a crime caper that is not as great as it could have been on the Xbox 360. While the fast-paced and action-packed chapters have their share of spectacular moments, the game is held back by characters we do not really care about and dated gameplay that just doesn’t feel like a next-generation game.


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