Kane & Lynch: Dead Men retrospective



May 4, 2013

Nobody ever sets out to make a bad game. It's easy to forget that. IO Interactive recently laid off half of its staff, following a series of releases in this console generation that - simply put - didn't deliver commercially or critically. The main culprits? A pair of stone-cold killers - Kane & Lynch: Dead Men.

IO as a major studio was built on the back of an unsmiling contract killer - yet Hitman, in one of those twists reserved for games alone, became known as a great comic turn. Death had never been so deadpan. In the first throes of the 360 and PS3 generation the dream ticket for AAA developers, as it always is, seemed to be a more completely cinematic experience. Hitman may have an overarching plot, but you'd never say it had narrative ambitions. Kane & Lynch is all about them.

I make these points not as the prelude to claiming this is a forgotten masterpiece. Even at release Kane & Lynch was a dinosaur in many important respects. Despite its narrative drive the tools used are cutscenes and voiceovers. The core mechanic, an automatic cover system, is almost embarrassingly unresponsive.

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