Guest Author - James Shea
Kane and Lynch is a co-op based third person shooter. The game's dark storyline and interesting characters and character development add personality to an otherwise lackluster shooter.
The game can be thought of as a combination between a third-person shooter and a squad game. Playing the game involves a lot of use of cover and blind shooting, similar to Gears of War. You can aim more carefully, which zooms your view in (there's no first-person mode, though). However, the controls are kind of awkward as a whole; moving into cover is haphazard, as you'll only "take cover" by standing next to an object that can provide cover, and there's no visible indicators or buttons to press to actively try and take cover. Shooting is equally questionable; despite their highly visible bullet trails, none of the guns really feel that solid, and none are particularly accurate. Even when you're zoomed in, shooting is pretty much a random exercise where you spray as many bullets as you can at a target and hope you hit them. The bullet spread is really unrealistic and almost all the bullets go completely off course.
In most cases, there are only two characters, the titular Kane (the first player) and Lynch (the second player, or AI-controlled in single-player mode), but in some missions you will receive extra subordinates. Your subordinates are controlled with a simple "Attack/Move/Follow Me" command setup similar to many squad-based action shooters. However, they never seem to do much, really; sure, they're each an extra gun firing at your enemies, but their contributions never seem particularly significant. If one of your allies is downed, you must go to them and administer adrenaline before they die; if you yourself are downed, an ally will try to get over to you and administer adrenaline to you. However, the latter seemed to be about a 50/50 chance of them actually reaching you in time, so it really just seemed easier to load a checkpoint.
Multiplayer only has one mode, but it's at least fairly imaginative - all the players must try to escape from the (AI-controlled) police after a bank heist. It's not a simple matter of cooperating, as players can kill each other to take their victim's share of the money, but by doing so they become a juicier target themselves. The interaction between players and the combination of paranoia and necessary teamwork is at least a nice effort to separate the game from traditional deathmatches.
The graphics are okay, but not cutting edge. In cutscenes, they look okay, but once the game is actually going the motions and animations change from being reasonably natural to being awkward and jerky. The most annoying thing is the bullet trails mentioned earlier, which make the game feel silly and unrealistic and detract from the serious atmosphere that it's trying to promote. The sound is pretty good, but not noteworthy except for the voice acting, which is done well.
The best part of the game, hands down, is the characterization, the acting, and the plot. All of those are done well, and this game would make a great movie. Unfortunately, the gameplay and the graphics drag its actual value as a "game" down, and all-in-all it's not that fun to play.