If you're unsure about the nature of content in IO Interactive's Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, you need only a single glance at the bench you're sitting on in the Eidos E3 demonstration room. Packed beneath a layer of glass you can find either a cache of machine guns and bullets, packets of suspicious white powder (baking powder, perhaps?) or countless rows of hundred-dollar bills. Judging by the brief demonstration of the single-player component of the game, these are all items that have been thoroughly used, abused and stolen by Kane and Lynch at some point in their dubious careers.
Despite sharing similar criminal and psychotic tendencies, the eponymous duo don't get along very well. Their brutish behavior and decidedly harsh vocabulary stems from the Hitman developer's desire to keep things "raw and realistic," says product manager Matt Knowles. He sums the game up as "an emotionally intense crime drama," pointing towards a bickering Kane and Lynch as they prepare to enter a vibrant upmarket nightclub. They're certainly dressed for the part, but it soon becomes clear that those snazzy suits conceal a sinister kidnapping plot.
The Glacier graphics engine (last seen in 2006's Hitman: Blood Money) produces a highly atmospheric nightclub scene, with a close, over-the-shoulder camera following Kane and co. as they push through hundreds of people dancing beneath spinning lights and a murky haze. It's a stylish scene that effectively embeds the characters in a believable world, one packed with innocent civilians who further highlight the sinister appearance and behavior of the violent pair. Once the crowd is out of the way, they head upstairs and confront their target, a young and surprisingly sassy woman. Unfortunately, her feisty spirits gets her an angry glare from Kain and a swift punch to the face from Lynch. Subtlety and sanity are very much lost on this guy.
The return journey isn't much better, as shots are quickly fired and the crowd scatters in panic. Refreshingly, a single well-placed shot takes down most opponents, with a poorly placed one usually resulting in the destruction of a piece of the environment. Later in the demonstration, when a disguised Kane and Lynch rappel down a large building, smash through a set of windows and utterly wreck a pristine lobby in a battle with the police, it becomes all the more obvious that they have very little in common with Hitman's Agent 47 when it comes to having a delicate touch.
This more forceful touch also extends to enemies within grappling range, with a swift (but awkwardly animated in its current state) knee to the groin ending the advance of most foolhardy foes. Machine guns and sniper rifles join the list of offensive options, and can be utilized from an automatic cover system, which should prove increasingly useful as Kane and Lynch stir up trouble in the criminal underworld.
Though the team is unflinchingly ill-mannered and cruel, the game's stylish presentation lends the criminals and consequently the entire game an air of illegal sophistication, much like you'd expect from a high-profile Hollywood heist flick. With the cinematic single-player mode restricting control to Kane only, the game's larger success will likely depend on the quality of co-op, online and off. More details on the dead men's multiplayer exploits will be revealed closer to the game's Fall release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.