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Joystiq hands-on: Kane & Lynch


"Get down!" That's the last thing you're told before your vision fades away. You hear what's going on: somehow, Lynch, the psychopath partner of yours, has managed to bust you out of a prison van. Your vision returns, blurry, as you limp away, following his directives.

So begins Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. It's clear why the game is already optioned for a movie -- it's intense, visceral, in your face. Dazed and confused, you follow Lynch's directives and join your fellow inmates in a mad escape. The cops are on hot pursuit, and bullets fly in every direction. You're not just seeing a massive gunfight unfold before your eyes -- you're a vital part of it. The cons ahead of you are also fighting for their lives. You realize you have no choice but to follow, for the sake of your own survival. As your vision slowly returns and you're able to start walking normally, you see that the world developer IO Interactive has created is a very real one. Don't expect the gritty browns and grays that are so typical of modern action games. Instead, the colors are refreshingly un-stylized. As your progress through the first chapter of the game, you end up in a rather un-spectacular backdrop: a local diner, taking cover from an increasing barrage of bullets. This is where you fight back.

The gunplay is fast, furious and most importantly, a lot of fun. The controls won't surprise anyone: like most other third person shooters out there, you'll want to take cover, peek out, and use blind-fire when necessary. So long as you avoid taking a lot of damage at once, you won't die -- and even if you do, there's a good chance that Lynch will give you a shot of adrenaline to revive you. The squad commands are simple, and don't go beyond what we've seen in other similar games. So, what makes the gameplay so compelling?

The AI is relentless, for both your allies and your foes. The unfortunate civilian that gets in the way will respond the way you expect a helpless bystander to: in terror. The opposing forces will close in on you, from all directions, and their fingers don't ease off the triggers. The environments are destructible, so watch out as windows shatter, pillars crumble, and general mayhem ensues. Add to the chaos the psychotic ramblings of Lynch, and you have an experience that's everything but subtle.

November is already home to a number of high-profile "must have" games, and Kane & Lynch falls right in the middle. Will Kane & Lynch be able to survive its November 20th release? We hope so.

See also:
Joystiq's E3 impressions

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