This isn’t a game, Lynch!
The gameplay for Kane and Lynch
is pretty much what you’d expect – especially if you’re a Gears of War
The game is played in the third person and players always control Kane, the more predictable of the duo. You move with the left thumbstick, look with the right, shoot with one trigger and go into over-the-shoulder aiming mode with the left trigger. The D-Pad is used to switch weapons and the bumpers are handy for lobbing grenades about.
Where the controls differ is in the squad tactics side of things, which comes heavily into use the further you progress in the game.
The levels themselves are mostly built around heists and robberies and the first few levels are an excellent taster of what’s to come, initially anyway. Straight after escaping from prison, Kane is forced back into robbing banks and when things go awry after Lynch offs a load of hostages it’s down to the player to sort things out. That means a lot of telling your team where to go and who to attack.
It’s all handled fairly simply – using the D-pad you can cycle through your team mates and select the one you want to boss about. The teams get progressively larger throughout the game but fluctuate depending on the level. Sometimes it’s just you and Lynch storming a nightclub, while other times it’ll be you and a team of four or five men assaulting a mansion. Either way, the squads never get too big for you to handle and issuing orders is a case of pressing the red, yellow or blue buttons to tell someone to move, attack or defend as needed.
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One of the nice touches about the system is the ability to swap weapons with a team mate too. It’s kind of clumsily integrated and I have to admit that I never really used it outside of the training section – which, in a nice twist, has the gameplay explained by Kane as he trains Lynch – but it’s nice to have the option.
The levels are pretty well put together too, though some of the first levels feel a bit simplistic – especially the first bank in the game which is little more than a garage, a vault and a hallway. The levels quickly improve though and one of my favourite parts of the game is an escape seen which see Kane and Lynch shooting at police cars from the back of the getaway van as they make a swift exit from another botched job.
That said, there are things to critiscise in the gameplay and I get the feeling that much of it is the fault of the engine. The game uses the old Glacier Engine which was developed by IO Interactive for Hitman: Blood Money
and, while a chat with the developers
revealed that parts of it had been re-written, the game still feels quite blocky and dated.
The major flaw though is that the levels are rarely very dynamic or interactive. True, there’s a lot of fun to be had by blowing chunks of the wall apart in a firefight, but the environments are too linear too often. There’s often only one way to complete a level and only one way to approach it. The lack of interaction beyond automatically taking cover and shooting – which can be done both blind and aimed – makes the game feel surprisingly shallow considering how intricate and well told the story is. Parts of the game actually are on-rails and even those that don’t occasionally feel like they should be.
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Another thing which bothered me somewhat was the aiming in the game. The actual system for it is pretty good – hold the left trigger to sight along the gun and the right trigger to fire. Where this doesn’t always work however is when you are hiding behind cover. Several times I had an enemy clearly in my sights at medium-close range, only to fire and have the bullet hit the concrete wall in front of me because of the way that camera had obscured the actual path of the bullet. Annoying as hell, I can tell you.
Death sequences are pretty frustrating too. When Kane or one of his allies dies they lie on the ground groaning for a bit and can be revived if someone manages to administer a shot of adrenaline to them. One of the interesting touches is that Kane hallucinates when he is on the floor, hearing voices which reveal more info on his motives and history.
Unfortunately, the andrenaline system while cute becomes tedious in some occasions. Adrenaline can’t be used constantly and if players die too many times in too short a period then they’ll overdose and die anyway. This means that there are more than a few occasions where you die, are revived, get up and die again only to have to wait lying on the floor for a minute or so until Lynch gets to you. If Lynch takes too long then you die, but if he gets there and gives you adrenaline then you overdose and die anyway, making the whole wait purposeless.