There Are No Happy Endings
Kane and Lynch portrays one of those stories that tugs at your mind and sanity, as you play through and watch everyone around you die because they became involved with the wrong people, or simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but you look back and question exactly what good came of it. The battalion of police officers you mowed down during the course of the game weren't corrupt officers, they were merely ordinary people called to an extraordinary situation.
Kane and Lynch: Dead Men is the first in a series of at least two games (as of this writing) revolving around Adam 'Kane' Marcus and James Seth Lynch. True to its words, the game begins with Kane on his way to death row after being convicted of manslaughter, with Lynch riding alongside. The duo is busted out by mercenaries operating under the employment of The7, a group of criminals. The7 informs Kane that they are holding his wife and daughter hostage, in return for money they believe Kane had stolen. They give him three weeks to return the money, with Lynch to watch over him, or else the entire family will be executed. Lynch suffers from events of violent psychosis, and requires regular medication in order to calm his blackouts.
The gameplay in Kane and Lynch is that of your standard third person squad based shooter. You are almost always paired up with Lynch, with regular appearances by other mercenaries. The combat is a fairly comfortable system of find cover, wait until you are clear to shoot, and shoot. Giving orders is enough of a pain that odds are you won't feel the need to use the system at all during gameplay, as it is neither a requirement nor an enormous benefit to use. Your AI partners are generally intelligent enough to find cover on their own, as are your AI enemies. Your running and gunning is occasionally broken up by a round of shooting from a moving vehicle, although you never get to drive, during which I had issues with sluggish aiming.
The few stealth moments almost seem to be intentionally comedic in their implementation, including one area where you have to sneak up on a police officer, but I found shooting him in the face worked just as well. Later on in the game, the stealth comes from ensuring that no one shoots off a flare during your shootouts. There are several moments where a sniper will be positioned somewhere in the shootout, adding a bit of difficulty attempting to pinpoint the sniper's location, get a bead on him, and shoot him before he shoots you (generally a one hit kill), but a friendly system displays the sniper's reticle, letting you know if he has a bead on Kane's forehead.
Health is played out in a similarly standard fashion. You have bars of health, and while staying out of combat will heal a partially full bar to full, filling empty health bars will require medpacks. Ammunition is plentiful, and weapons are not very diverse. Every weapon you use has a low level of recoil, which I imagine can be explained by Kane having been a high level mercenary, and fires fairly similarly. So your weapon choices come down to shotgun, automatic rifle/machine gun, and pistol.
Considering Kane and Lynch has been out for three years, I suggest ignoring some of the earliest reviews as most of the crashes and glitches that existed at release are long fixed through patches. The AI still has some moments of "let's stand out in the open and spray-and-pray" but otherwise play out quite well. It will be evident from the start, however, that Kane and Lynch is more about the story than the gameplay, and the story is one thing that the game does very well.
The characters are not likable at all, but they don't pretend to be. Kane is an irrefutable bastard who put his family at risk because of his own greed, and he is paying the price for it, which he acknowledges, and is motivated by the idea that although he deserves whatever he gets, his wife and daughter, the latter of which will play a more meaningful role later on, should not be included. The world of Kane and Lynch is one of betrayal and death, and more betrayal. There are no happy endings here, just pain matches with smaller moments of less pain.
This is where I would review the multiplayer, but I'll be honest: I haven't tried it, and likely neither will you. Here in 2010, Kane and Lynch had no servers operating on the PC platform. So I give multiplayer a mini-score of 0/10.
Kane and Lynch is currently twenty bucks on Steam, and well worth the price. Despite a few moments of frustration, those of you who would enjoy playing as the criminal for once will no doubt enjoy the twisting story of Kane and Lynch. I gave the game a 3.5 out of 5 because, at its core, it is a standard third person shooter with not a whole lot of fluff stuck in. The story is where the game stands out, however, and I would be doing an injustice not to point out at least once in this review that the characters swear like sailors suffering from severe Tourettes Syndrome. The multiplayer is dead, but perhaps not a huge loss.
Kane and Lynch runs with Games for Windows Live, and supports said system's achievements. You're going to need a GFWL account, however.