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New South Wales, Australia
Game Developer, Composer & Gamer.

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My upcoming reviews are subject to change & availability, so i won't be listing them anymore

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review #1: Kane & Lynch 1: Dead Men

Alright first and foremost, as this is my first review i'm still going to be refining the format in which i review games with.

Each review i will start by having the setup i've used to play the game. That excludes my actual computer specs which can be seen on the right.

Platform: PC
Type of controller: 360 Controller
Install time: Approx 7mins
(Included in installation): MSVC++RT 2008, GFWL
Notes about installation:
The version of GFWL that was included with the setup is very outdated and requires 3 seperate updates to become up-to-date which = 3 restarts of the game.
Also the first run of the game (without GFWL updates) i crashed when the FMV started playing in the background while i had GFWL open.
Also to note, i didn't have GFWL installed before installing this game which may have contributed to the initial run CTD

Game website: http://www.kaneandlynch.com
Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kane_%26_Lynch:_Dead_Men


I'll start off by saying i won;t be posting any boring plot summary, you can get that info at the above links.

At first glace, Kane & Lynch seemed like it would be a thrilling and entertaining game. How wrong i was at that impression.
Kane & Lynch starts out with an escape mission, as your revived by Lynch and escape.
Basically it just goes downhill from there. Once you reach the Diner shit gets a bit frustrating. The hint system is bogus especially while using a 360 controller.
Now i will quickly explain why i am using a 360 controller, well the main reason is i love playing Third Person Shooters, Racing & Puzzle games with my 360 controller, i have been a console gamer for alot longer than a PC gamer, and i feel more comfortable using one in those particular genres.

Back to the mission, right outside that diner is the next objective, that is of coarse if you take the time to hold down the left stick, which also happens to be sprint so you have ot be standing still to bring up the hud with the minimap and objective icon in the world space.
After dying twice there because it was either stop and look at the map and die or run around and try and find what to do and die, outside more police were gathering around to my right.
I killed a swat team guy and ran up to grab his gun, only to be met with an invisible clip wall. Ah yes clipping, thou art a heartless bitch. All i can say gamers is get used to this, because it happens throughout the game.
By the time we had actually escaped i wasn't very entertained at that point and honestly the game struggled to entertain me at all.

Another problem i discovered early in the game is that using the aim button (Right click or left trigger) has no effect on accuracy at all.
So because there is a constant white dot for a crosshair you can pretty much run and gun without needing to use button aiming much.

Which brings me to my next problem/annoyance. The cover system. I was warned of this but i don't think i was quite prepared for just how bad it is.
There are great examples of games that don't require a button to go into cover, that by simply pushing foward against a wall will put you into cover, but oh no Kane & Lynch have to go and make an even worse system.
That's right the covering system appears to be dynamic in this, that is to say the game is apperntly coded to know when you want to go in cover.
It of course does not do this and when it does you will regret it's even there because of a crucial timing moment that your all of a suddenly popped into cover..

Now the next issue i have with the game is the order system. Yes not only do you have to put up with all these annoyances you also have to order Lynch around aswell.
In principle this works i mean Rainbow Six did a pretty good job of it. Buuut Kane & Lynch fails again where other games like Socom and R6 have succeeded.
It has a very similar system to R6 with pressing a button over an enemies head for your ally to engage them or looking at a world space point and pressing a different button to order them to move there, quite simple in theory.
But of course this game almost forces you to do all the work because your ally AI is so incapable of doing the simple task you assign them you end up giving up and telling them to stay put while you go ahead.

Now onto the technical side of things, while this may be interesting for some, other may find it boring.
I am going to write this next paragraph from a developer standpoint. Basically giving credit where credit is due.

Well the first thing i noticed about this game was a heavy use of normal maps. Now that can work to some games advantages, games like Unreal Touranment 3 or Crysis make heavy use of normal mapping.
However Kane & Lynch seem to forget about the rest of the world and just use heavy normal maps on the characters.
As mentioned earlier, the clipping was very bad almost from the first level. Developers should realise that if your going to put player clips in a level, you should at least mask them up with a fence or a row of cars or at least something to visually aid the player in showing there is a barrier there.
One instance i talked about earlier with killing the swat member really showed me the lack of attention clipping got during development.

Moving onto the difficulty. The difficulty in this game seems like it has menapause. One part of a mission is so easy you could do it blindfolded, then the next part you die 2 or 3 times without even knowing what to do because of the stupid hint system.
Also some areas you can run and gun quite easily and take down a roomfull of police, the next time you try that the game is not so forgiving and you die almost instantly with no change in the amount of police or their weapons.
Speaking of menapausal symptoms, both the animations and visual effects in this game are all over the place with quality aswell. The explosions and fire look like they were done in 5 minutes on Particle Illusion where things like glash shattering is actually quite satisfying.
The animations in some points are quite good but in others are really sloppy and there were multiple times when characters were speaking and their lips were'nt moving.
During the mission when your in the back of the Van just after escaping the vault, everytime the van made a left turn, Lynch would clip through me and fill up my screen so i couldn't see.

Sound design is yet another menapausal subject. The voice acting is very good, however the repeating lines of what Kane & Lynch say can get repeatative. A thing to note with the sound design, "impact" sounds are way too soft.
The voice acting & other effects like bullet fire are fine in terms of volume but it takes away the "impact" of the actual "impact" when the sound is low and you just see it visually, impacts especially close to the camera should be loud to signify an actual impact not just a nudge.

Finally the story and character development isn't that interesting either. After 90 minutes of playing i still didn't care for Kane, wasn't really interested in what his story was.
The script writing was also sub-par, for example at one point Kane tells Lynch to calm down, then 5 minutes later Kane is going psycho saying that he has flipped out and Lynch is the one telling him to calm down.
If this game wasn't trying to be serious i would of thought that was funny but it was just hypocratic bullshit just to make the player seem like the good guy but also tough...

My closing statement will be this game seriously needs to pick an era. Not only did i not find it entertaining, it wasn't really fun either. Nearly every mission i played felt like a chore, and i gave up 90mins into the story.

Story: 2/10
AI: 3.5/10
Sound: 5/10
Voice: 8/10
Controls: 5/10
Models (Characters): 7.5/10
Models (Props): 4/10
Textures: 7/10
Technical Complexity: 6.5/10
Replayability: 1/10 -- Won't be playing this again, just doesn't interest me at all.

Total: 49.5/100

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