By xxizzypop 13 Comments
Let me start with this
I’m biased as hell. Just as much so as anyone else. Some people have a hardon for modern combat, some for Art Deco art styles, some go a big rubbery one for Nolan North. As for myself, I love me some dark and gritty stories, fraught with fucked up histories and characters with only the vaguest hints dropped by the narrative, forcing the audience to try and figure out what the hell is actually going on, whilst leaving many a thing open to interpretation. For that very reason, it may not quite come as a shocker that I've got a bit of a soft spot for the so called "fragile alliance" of Adam "Kane", our once remorseful ex-mercenary who is reminiscent of Neil McCauley, and James Lynch, the lovely, medicated psychopath whom the game prefers not to deal in any absolutes with. Did he kill his wife? Maybe. Are those really stomach pills? Doubtful. Is he a carbon copy of Waingro from Heat? Most definitely.
Now I realize that this may not be the best place on the internet to profess any amount of adoration for the series, but I've simply never seen it as the spawn of Satan as so many others seem to. By no means will I try and call Dead Men anything resembling a perfect, or even a great game. But to not admit that it was just perhaps a bit decent, at best, with an intriguing story, some interesting characters and curious concepts (i.e. Fragile Alliance) is just pure zealotry. The concept was actually pretty good. The execution... well, not so much so. The game's good qualities were simply outweighed by the bad ones -- shooting jank, cover jank, AI jank, squad combat jank, the less-than-brilliant idea to include split-screen only cooperative play, and the contrived jump of the plot in the final chapter that stripped it of its charm as a crime drama.
The campaign experience was lacking, to say the least, but the real joy to be found in Dead Men was not there, but rather the multiplayer mode, the monster that is...
Fragile AllianceNow this was the diamond in the rough of the Kane and Lynch experience that was, much like the campaign, an interesting concept that was hampered primarily by poor execution. I remember upon launch, joining a game session was perhaps the most frustrating of experiences that I had ever encountered, making me wonder how it is that they actually decided to ship the game out. After a failed connection (which the game was terrible at indicating the quality of), it would proceed to kick you back to the title screen. We're talking "Press Start" kind of title menu here. And after five or ten times of failing to join a game in a row, that starts to wear on your mental health. This was improved upon in later patches, but damn, still not quite well enough.
Plagued with connection issues and the general gameplay gripes, what it touted was some fun and tapping into the desire of every man. It's not often that I have ever uttered the words "Man, Dane Cook is RIGHT!" But y'know, he had it spot on. This game tapped into what was evidently my deepest desire to be involved in a heist.
The first match I ever got a chance to play in was on a level called Withdrawal, where you and your crew take down a bank. And let me be clear here -- I found it to be awesome. Storming the front doors, taking out the security guards, emptying the registers before heading downstairs to empty an armored car's delivery, then having to break through a SWAT team and jump a wall to get to your exit, all the while keeping a wary eye on your teammates for that one moment where one decides he wants the big score. The entire thing is this tense, interestingly paced experience, where the joy was not necessarily derived from gameplay but rather from the concept of the whole thing. You're robbing a bank with some traitorous bastards, yourself counted among them. You pull off one successful heist, everyone upgrades to the M4, and then it's pretty much a straight reenactment of Heat. Needless to say at this point, I enjoyed the shit out of it.
There were more levels as well, but that was the one that has truly stuck in my mind over the years. It was one of those things where I feel if some of the utterly horrible jank was worked out, it would have been, hands down, my favorite multiplayer experience ever. Now, all of this ranting about the original brings me around to some more modern times, in order to discuss...
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog DaysTruth be told, I have been hopeful for this game for... well, forever. I was unsure if they would make a sequel, following the reception of the first, but alas, release is upon us soon. Kane and Lynch are returning for another murder-filled romp through an urban environment, catalyzed by what sounds like a botching of yet some more dirt work undertaken by the duo. To report what everyone is already more than aware of, they have decided to undertake a much simpler route of developing this as a traditional third-person shooter, with some fine tuned shooting mechanics, a functioning cover system and better A.I. Gone are the days where you'll need to worry about commanding your squad. Instead, IO seems to want you to focus much more on raw, gritty action of this game.
The demo released recently, and I've got to say -- I'm on board. The game certainly looks pretty ugly. Truth be told, some texturing just looks ugly. It makes the slow starting cutscene with Kane and Lynch sitting in the sushi bar almost painful to watch. But when the bullets start flying and the filters get to flashing, it gets lost in the pure chaos, which is in itself, genius. Lazy. But genius. Changes in the gameplay are pretty welcome. Guns are much more diverse, that little knockdown effect certainly gives you the feeling that they pack a punch now, and everything is just all in all much better feeling than the first. It was an admittedly jarring experience at first, as it was incredibly fluid and maintained a high framerate, something I apparently haven't been seeing enough of lately. After a good half hour, and the many hours that followed (most of it spent in the Fragile Alliance), I was tuned into it.
Now, if you didn't like the first, that's fine. If you did, brilliant. No matter the camp you sit in, you should at least be giving this demo a try, regardless of any possible moral obligations to hate the series on account of certain other debacles in the past. And now, a jarring transition in order to finish up all things K&L in one blog to...
Kane & Lynch: The Movie
For all intents and purposes, I'm worried about this movie. This is Simon Crane's first time as a true director, though his involvement in cinema is pretty extensive, most commonly known for his work as a stunt coordinator. But that's not necessarily the source of my fear, simply something to tack on. What I'm worried about is how true this will stay to the source material, as I'm sure every fan of a video game series is when their favorite is up for a movie adaptation. I'm afraid of how the action will come out in this movie -- will it be dark, gritty and violent? Or is it going to be flashy and action-movie-ish? Will the story go for the dark route the accentuates the deep seated flaws of the Kane and Lynch, or will it go for a dumbed down action plot? And of course, the absolute deepest fear -- can Jamie Foxx actually pull off Lynch?
I suppose it's all up in that air at this point, but still. I've got this stirring in my gut that I'm not particularly fond of, a little voice whispering in my ear -- train wreck. But hey. At least Uwe isn't directing it.