Kane & Lynch: Dead Men

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WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

This article may reveal major plot points, especially considering the game had either been released recently or not in specific countries yet.‎

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
134904-kane-lynch-dead-men-playstation-3-front-cover.jpg
Kane, you fucking traitor, why couldn't you just die instead of appearing in this shitty game?
Genre(s): Third-person shooter
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Release date: NA: November 13, 2007
EU: November 23, 2007
AU: December 6, 2007
Engine: Glacier
Developer(s): IO Interactive
Publisher(s): NA/EU: Eidos Interactive
JP: Spike
Made in: Denmark
Franchise: Kane & Lynch
Successor: Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men is a 2007 third-person shooter video game developed by IO Interactive and by Eidos Interactive in North America and Europe, and Spike in Japan for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Despite its extremely negative reception, with it being considered not only one of the worst games released in 2007, but also one of the worst games of all time alongside Need for Speed: ProStreet, the game managed to spawn a sequel called Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days.

Plot

The game opens with Adam 'Kane' Marcus traveling to death row after being convicted of manslaughter along with another inmate: James Seth Lynch. Their truck is suddenly involved in a head-on collision by a group of mercenaries, Kane and Lynch are taken to a construction site where they are confronted by four members of a gang of criminals called The 7, led by The Brothers and their henchmen Carlos (a close friend of Kane) and Mute. They accuse Kane of stealing money from them and reveal that they have kidnapped his wife and his daughter Jane. Kane is tasked with retrieving the money within three weeks, if Kane doesn't retrieve the money, The 7 will kill them.

Gameplay

The general gameplay consists of a classical third-person shooter with cover elements like Gears Of War, in the campaign mode the player can only control Kane, however, there is a Co-op mode available, in which the second player controls Lynch. He has the exact kind of gameplay as Kane, with the difference that Lynch can have some short bursts of aggression, in which he hallucinates nearly all of the AI characters are policemen.

Why It Sucks

General

  1. The graphics in general look extremely poor with it lacking many details and lighting effects, to the point that the game resembles more of an early PlayStation 2 or Xbox game than a game released for the seventh generation consoles. Halo 3, which was released just months before this game, looks much better than what this game looks. You can even think that the game was highly rushed due to the lack of lighting effects, which are really noticeable.
  2. One of the main characteristics of this game is the ability to take cover in certain walls and surfaces, in a very similar way to Gears of War, however, the problem with this mechanic is that it's outright broken. Apparently, you just have to approach to a surface to take cover from it, but the problem is that you almost never take cover because the cover will only work when it feels like it, but the worst part from this is that this mechanic is supposed to be triggered automatically, meaning that you can't take cover whenever you want or when you don't want to, causing you to disorient a lot until you can get out of cover, something that also fails a lot, you can even die a lot of times due to this poorly implemented mechanic.
  3. Even if you get to cover when you need to, this mechanic is almost useless because it won't fully cover you at all, leaving you exposed to enemy fire, specially when you're taking cover in a not very wide wall or surface.
  4. Covering behind some surfaces or walls can obstruct your crosshairs, because the camera zooms too close to your character, even if you zoom your weapon, the free space between the cover, the character, and the crosshairs are incredibly small, making things considerably harder.
  5. The shooting aspect is also horrible and makes a lot of things that a third person shooter game should never do:
    • For some reason, almost all of the weapons are terribly inaccurate even at close range, meaning that the bullets will never go on where you're aiming, especially when you're using a low caliber weapon like a pistol or a submachine gun.
    • The crosshairs of all of the weapons have the same size and shape (except for the M249), making the aiming even worse, as in most of the games, the crosshairs get adapted to the accuracy of their respective weapons, meaning that a more accurate weapon will have smaller crosshairs, and besides that, the level of the zoom that all of the weapons have is insanely high, making it feel very strange, like if you were holding a weapon with an 8x scope, even the pistol is also affected by this, despite having an awful accuracy.
    • A great part of the available weapons in the game have an insane amount of recoil that only gets worse with the abysmal accuracy and level of zoom of the aiming, and due to this, lining your shots is even harder than it should be.
    • The HUD shows how many bullets of both of your weapons you have remaining, the problem is that it shows the reserves and the ammunition of the magazine together, there is no way to check out how many bullets are left in your current magazine, and besides that, there isn't even a reload button to reload your weapon if you want, so you have to wait for about three seconds for your character to reload its weapon automatically, a problem that can cost you time or even your life if you're in an intense shootout.
    • The stationary machine guns have infinite ammo and a moderate level of accuracy, and like the real machine guns, it will overheat after continually firing it for some seconds, but there isn't any kind of indicator that shows up the temperature of the machine guns, meaning that you'll never know when to fire the machine gun again.
  6. You can't pick up two primary weapons at the same time, instead, you're limited to carry only one primary weapon and a pistol, but ironically enough, there is only one pistol available in the game, ruining any possible kind of variation that the game could've game.
  7. Your character has the ability of sprinting, however, this sprint only lasts for about two seconds before your character gets tired, and this sprint isn't even considered a real sprint, as it feels more like if you were walking faster for a short period of time, but not enough fast to be considered sprinting.
  8. As if a the horrible shooting mechanics weren't enough, the game also has problems with its hit detection, most of the time, this goes unnoticed because of the terrible aiming of the majority of the weapons, but sometimes when you're using the sniper rifle (which is the only weapon with 100% of accuracy) and you shoot to the head of one of the enemies, the bullet will just pass through without killing the enemy or even making any kind of harm.
  9. Just like the previous IO Interactive game: Freedom Fighters, this game also features squad command mechanics in a single player mode that are used for giving Lynch or other of the later teammates certain orders, like attacking certain enemies, defending a certain position and moving to a specific area. These mechanics were responsible for making Freedom Fighters a really fun and interactive game, but in Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, these mechanics are completely broken and unnecessary, mostly because after the tutorial mission, your teammates will only answer you verbally but they never actually do anything. Sometimes, your teammates can even insult you if you try to give them an order, this may sound funny, but it's completely real and it stops being funny when you're bleeding out or don't have any ammo and they just refuse to help you, as you can see here.
  10. Besides having teammates that almost never try to help you, they can still get wounded when they receive a large amount of damage, and if they bleed out for too much, they will eventually die, leading to an instant game over. From far, this mechanics seems very annoying, and indeed it is, but there are two elements that make this mechanic even worse than it sounds:
    • The only person that can revive your teammates from bleeding out is you, your allies will never try to help each other, and there are times where even if an ally is next to another that is bleeding out to death, he will never try to do anything to revive or even to cover him, thus, you have to do all of the work by yourself, something that can be risky or completely impossible if your ally is located too far away from you or in a high risk zone.
    • Your allies don't even have a health bar or a time counter that could show how much time they have left before they bleed out and die, making it even harder to help them recover on time or to prioritize certain enemies that could be shooting them.
  11. The artificial intelligence of the enemies is terrible, mainly because the enemies will never try to take cover or flank you to take you out, instead, they just stand in the middle of the shooting waiting for you to kill them. Sometimes, they can take cover behind some objects like cars, but just like Ride to Hell: Retribution, they still leave their heads poking out, which means a very easy headshot if you're close enough. However, the AI is also incredibly frustrating because the enemies can gun you down with only two or three shots, especially when you're at point blank range or when you're fighting against too many enemies.
    • Having said that, the enemy snipers are incredibly accurate and they can knock you down with a single shot, and if that wasn't enough, most of them are very well hidden and they're often placed at very high places like buildings or bridges, this only gets worse when you're playing on the maximum level of difficulty, as they can spot you almost instantly.
  12. Not only the enemy AI is terrible, but also the allied AI is terribly useless and braindead. They don't take cover either and almost never hit or even kill the enemies, leaving all of the heavy work for you, and as stated before, it only gets worse when you notice that your allies can also be gun downed and killed if they take a lot of damage.
  13. When you're knocked down, your teammate still has a few seconds (Mostly less than 10 or 15) to revive you before you bleed out and die, this revive mechanic consists of injecting the player or teammate with a shot of adrenaline so they can continue fighting, however, a very frequent dose of this adrenaline can be mortal, and if your teammate revives you very often, you will eventually die, leading to a game over. The problem that resides in this mechanic is that you never know how many adrenaline doses your teammate can apply on you, the average of adrenaline doses that you can resist is of three in a short period before dying, but there are times where you can die after the second dose or even the first dose, even if they're not applied in a short period of time. In short terms, this revive mechanic is inconsistent, broken, and frustrating.
  14. The plot of the game lacks a real continuity between the levels. While the change of areas is not bad and the zones where they take place make sense to the plot, there aren't any cutscenes showing up Kane and Lynch traveling or moving away from their previous position, making the change of levels feel inadequate or like if all of the characters decided to teleport with magic or with some superpower that they obviously don't have.
  15. Some cutscenes and parts of the game don't make any kind of sense either, the best example of this is the part where Kane and his teammates get into the Retomoto's building, before planting the bomb, Retomoto is sitting in his chair back against the window, but after the bomb planted by Kane explodes, Retomoto is dead, he looks in front of the window and his face looks like he was wounded with gunfire, however, after the bomb explodes, your teammates will go down and start shooting seconds after the Retomoto's death, if you're wondering, his character model can't be alternated after his death.
  16. Throughout the many levels of the game, some quotes said by the many characters will appear on screen for a few seconds before they fade out and disappear, but there is no reason for these quotes to appear again, as they were previously mentioned and add nothing to the plot or the story development.
  17. While the level design isn't bad and there are many big environments that can inspire long-range shootouts, most of the enemies on them are placed in very inconvenient places that end up making the missions incredibly frustrating and unfair:
    • The club section is probably one of the worst parts of the game, after knocking down the daughter of Retomoto, Lynch will have to carry her while she's still knocked down and Kane has to protect him from the incoming guards with his pistol, this sounds easy, but the amount of guards that will try to stop both of you is abysmal and they're placed in very inconvenient places where you can't see them easily like corners, and since the interior of the club is very dark and there are many civilians screaming and trying to escape, they can camouflage with them and be even less perceptible with a naked eye, even if they can be recognized by spotting the head-lamps they're wearing.
    • Shortly after escaping from the club and trying to charge the kidnapping of the Retomoto's daughter, you and your teammates will be ambushed by many of the Retomoto's bodyguards and some snipers located on many of the bridges will be around. Taking out the guards is quite easy, but the same can't be said with the snipers, as they can knock you down with a single shot and can spot you in a very short amount of time. The worst part of this is that it seems to be completely intentional, as the game incites you to use the squad command mechanics to tell Lynch where the snipers are.
    • The Retomoto's building section seems to begin good despite being having a cliché rappel shootout at the introduction, but after killing Retomoto, an great amount of enemies coming from everywhere will try to stop you and your teammates, the problem is that almost all of them take cover behind places where you can't hit them because the angles of the many walls, stairs and pillars of the building don't help to the situation, the only way to take them out is rushing behind their cover spots and shooting them quickly, but the enemies can kill you almost instantly when they spot you, and if there are two or more enemies behind a same spot, it's completely impossible to apply this strategy, the only safe ways are to shoot them from a far distance or using a weapon with a high rate of fire and spread, like the M249.
    • The part where Kane, Lynch, and their allies travel to Cuba is just as difficult as the club section or even worse, near the end of the mission, a large amount of enemies with rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers and technical trucks will start to shoot you and your teammates without any mercy, and to make things worse, the design of the level is quite big and most of the possible effective spots to take cover are blocked by several barbed wires that you can't cross through, the only spots to take cover consist of walls and surfaces that don't cover you at all because the enemies are placed in very inconvenient spots like barely visible windows and behind structures where they can shoot you or your teammates to death, leaving you helpless to do something.
  18. If the previous point wasn't enough to show how poorly designed some levels were, there are some cases where the game unintentionally leads you to a dead-end due to how bad the game explains you some of its mechanics or to unexpected/unexplained instructions:
    • After beating the first part of the Retomoto's building section and going downstairs, your allies will stop following you suddenly, mainly because Lynch will not try to save you if you're down near the first or the second floor of the building. To fix this, you have to guide all of your teammates downstairs at the same rate as you, but the game never explains you that you have to guide your teammates manually in this part, and if the game explained it, there is no real reason why you have to guide your teammates manually in this part, as in the previous missions, they always stayed close to you.
    • Shortly after arriving in Venezuela, you have to kill several enemies that are guarding a base, so that Carlos can pass through and plant a mine without being killed, but even after killing all of the guards, Carlos will never move even if you restart the mission from the beginning, to make him go to the base, you have to press the "guide" command specifically while aiming at the gates of the base, and again, the game never explains you that you have to guide Carlos manually after killing the enemies.
  19. To beat the giant dumper truck boss battle, you have to shoot the enemies that are placed over it and shoot the windows to kill the driver, the problem is that this battle is not very well designed, hitting the driver's window is very hard from a far distance, the only weapons available are the MP5's that you can pick up from the dead enemies, and your pistol, in which both of them have terrible accuracy and damage as mentioned above, as you don't have much ammo, and you can't pick up more than what you can find from the few enemies that previously tried to kill you, to add salt to the wound, there are times where this battle can glitch for no apparent reason in two ways:
    • The first glitch prevents the player to break the windows of the dumper, and no matter how many bullets you shoot to them, they will never break and you will never stop the dumper.
    • The second one is even worse, in the game, the dumper is supposed to make two or three laps before running over Jenny (your daughter that can't move because of the trauma she was diagnosed by seeing her mother dying), but this glitch will make the dumper kill Jenny in the first lap, and since killing the driver is very hard and tedious, it's almost impossible to kill him before that, and if for some reason, the game decides to mix the first glitch with the second one, this part will be unbeatable until you restart the checkpoint or even the entire mission.
  20. A great part of the sound effects of the game are terrible and poorly implemented. To describe this in a better way, almost all of the sound effects of the weapons remind more of somebody tapping his nails on a desk. Some of the weapons don't even have looped sound effects, meaning that you can hear constant pauses or strange sound mixings, and some others have delayed gunfire sound effects, similar to what happens with Aliens: Colonial Marines.
    • Some of the voice-lines from the enemies can get incredibly irritating because of how repetitive they are said, especially with the Japanese mobs, civilians, and the Cuban soldiers.
  21. The game only has a few missions and you can complete the entire game in only four hours, this can probably explain why some of the missions and sections of the game are insanely hard.
  22. The game has a cooperative mode where you and another player can play as the two protagonists of the game, but this gamemode is only available via local play and there is no way to play the cooperative mode online by using the Xbox Live system, and even with that, the game takes place on a vertically split screen instead of a horizontally split screen like many other games, making it difficult to follow the action and to see the enemies adequately, even on a widescreen TV.
    • According to many websites, the game was originally going to have an online co-op gamemode, but due to time and difficult circumstances, this was scrapped at last minute and limited the co-op to local play only.
  23. The multiplayer mode of the game: Fragile Alliance, consists of a group of players that make a heist to a determined place in a very similar way to Payday 2, being the ability of betraying your teammates and taking the entire score only for you the main attractive point of the game. This idea is great on paper, but in execution, it leaves a lot to be desired, this game mode only had four maps at launch, and all of the maps could be completed in less than five minutes, and besides that, there is no real reward on being a traitor or to even play the multiplayer mode because of the lack of replayability and variety, it could be fun for a few matches with your friends, but that's it.
  24. Another thing that makes the multiplayer mode more boring and easier than normal is that all of the players will have their names over their heads, even if they are too far away from another player, and while you can run while crouching to make your name disappear, you can see the names of the police team members as they head your way.

Microsoft Windows version

  1. For some strange reason, this version has a large amount of technical problems and glitches that are not in the console versions, the most common issues are the crashes that can be triggered by only loading one of the many missions of the game, in the case of the glitches, the most common is the one that makes all or a great part of the NPC's make the T pose in the bank mission, as you can see here.
  2. This version not only has more bugs and glitches than the original version, but also has two game-breaking bugs that will make the game entirely unplayable, and it's even worse when you consider that these two bugs can happen in the same mission where you're escaping in a van:
    • The first bug happens in the tunnel section where you need to kill several policemen to continue your journey, shortly after killing all of the cops and getting to the van, there is a high probability that a cop car can be placed right in front of the escape van, and since the van's path is linearly programmed , the van will not try to evade the car, leading to this and forcing you to restart the whole mission just to fix this bug.
    • The second one is even worse and there is no way to avoid it to happen. After the tunnel shooting section, the van will go on again, but this time, several cop vehicles will spawn inside of the van, downing Lynch immediately, and since you're not allowed to move or to make any actions other than shooting and reloading your weapons, Lynch will eventually bleed out and die, leading you to a game over screen. Critical Nobody, who was initially reviewing the PC version of game, had to buy the Xbox 360 version to continue his review because he didn't find any kind of solution to this problem.
  3. Besides being the worst version of the game (and one of the worst PC ports of all time), it also uses the infamous Games for Windows Live service, even after its discontinuation in 2014, the game was never updated to remove this feature, and there is no way to remove it by default, you have to download an unofficial patch just to make the game work.
    • It's possible that the game delisted on Steam in March of 2021 due to this, as the game's page of Steam says that "the developers will update it in a future".
  4. For some reason, the developers decided to add achievements only for the Windows Live service, while the Steam version of the game lacks achievements, reducing the replay value considerably.
  5. The Steam version of the game has a major bug where the folder that is supposed to save your checkpoints is not present, meaning that when you decide to quit the game at certain point of the game, it will not save your previous progress, forcing you to restart the mission from the beginning.
  6. If you have a controller connected to your PC at the moment you start up the game (especially if you have the Steam version and an Xbox or PlayStation controller connected), the game will automatically switch the controls to the controller inputs and there is no way to turn them back to use the keyboard and mouse unless you close the game, disconnect the controller and open the game again, a task that can be annoying for most people, as most of the controller compatible games allow you to use both controller and keyboard and mouse.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Even if the game fails at creating a comfortable and adequate gameplay, the reason why the game was a commercial success is because of its story and characters nature. Instead of making a classical duo of action where the main characters are invincible and everything they do is always the right answer, in this case both of the characters are complete social scumbags and most of the things they try to do go wrong in one way or another. With Kane being a traitor that just goes for himself and not caring about anyone else rather than his family and Lynch being a sociopath that apparently killed his wife in one of his many aggression bursts. In fact, these two factors were so unique for its time that not only did they make the game a commercial success, but also created some kind of cult following, considering it one of the best plots ever seen in a game and even thinking that it is even better than its sequel: Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days.
  2. When you're down, the screen will turn white and many lines of the Kane's teammates or his family insulting and questioning him about his previous decisions can be heard while you're waiting to be rescued or to die. This detail is a pretty good feature to the character development, as it shows the possible repentance of Kane's actions in his past.
  3. While the gunplay is horrible because of the terrible aiming and the insane amount of recoil of the weapons, the bullets at least have tracers, which means that lining up your shots can be easier, even if you don't exactly shoot where you're aiming at, something that the sequel lacked.
  4. Even if it only has one secondary weapon, the variation of the primary weapons is pretty wide, you are equipped by default with a SIG 552, but there are other weapons like a P90 sub-machine gun, an R700 sniper rifle, an M249 machine gun and even a couple of explosive weapons.
  5. If we don't count the poor placement of the enemies and some sections that are almost impossible to beat without some kind of guide, the level design in general is great and attractive, consisting mostly of big cities located in many parts of the world, like the United States, Japan, Cuba, and even Venezuela.
  6. The idea of implementing only two bosses in the game that consist of real life vehicles instead of adding some kind of over-powered and bullet-sponge enemy is quite original and more faithful to the reality.
  7. It features a great soundtrack composed by Jesper Kyd that fits well with the pacing of each mission in the game.
  8. From the plot and story development to the multiplayer mode, the game has a great potential that wasn't developed adequately, however, the game can still be pretty enjoyable if you can handle or ignore many of the terrible mechanics.

Reception

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men was met with a mixed-to-negative reception from critics but was met with extremely negative reviews from gamers. The game holds an average score of 67/100 for the PC version[1], a 64/100 for the PlayStation 3 version [2] and a 65/100 for the Xbox 360 version.[3] However, due to the firing of Jeff Gerstmann from GameSpot, the game received a massive review-bombing on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 versions of the game, to the point that they currently hold a 38 and a 33 in their respective user scores.

The portuguese website PTGamers gave the game a 6/10, saying "Sadly, IO Interactive wasn’t up to their standards in this production, and we can say that we stand before one of the biggest disappointments of the year."[4]

Chewey from the website XboxAddict rated the game with a 40% out of 100%, comparing the state of the game with early beta due to the awful controls that complicated the task of taking cover, the poor enemy and allied AI and the times where the game couldn't connect to a single online match, and only praising the graphics, the audio design and the plot of the game, shortly describing: "This had all the ability to be a top notch 360 game, instead it ends up being a painful gaming experience."[5]

Videos

Longplay

Reviews/Analysis

Trivia

  1. A PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS versions of a Kane & Lynch title called Kane and Lynch Tactics were in development during 2007. The game was never officially announced and it was cancelled for unknown reasons.
  2. Reto-Moto, a Danish video-game developer located in Copenhague, based its name on one of the main characters of the game.
  3. Kane and Lynch is in the same universe as Hitman. This is confirmed by news reports of the duo's exploits in Blood Money and their full appearance in Absolution.

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