Monday, November 19, 2007

Assassin's Creed, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, and Fresca.

After a good chunk of game time with Assassin's Creed and an another block of time with Kane & Lynch: Dead Men this weekend. When all is said and done I should have picked up Kane & Lynch.

Assassin's Creed is a great looking game that is fun and exciting to play but there's not really anything to do after a couple of hours. The story is the only thing keeping me playing truth be told. The problem I have is that there's really not much substance to Assassin's Creed gameplay wise. You enter a new part of the city, scout out the View Points, rescue citizens, beat information out of a few folks, run a few timed missions, pickpocket, eavesdrop, head to the Bureau, get the assassination mission, go kill the target, escape the guards, get back to the Bureau. You do that for each hit - 9 hits total. The first couple of times it's fun but after awhile - to paraphrase - "I think to myself is that all there is to Assassin's Creed?" I'm gonna give it another shot at least to finish out the story but my heart's not really in it.

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men is quite possibly one of the meanest games I have ever played. Parts are profanity-inducing difficult but that's not what I mean by "mean". Kane & Lynch plays like one of my favorite violent crime movies. The characters are just straight up bastards, psychos, sociopaths, and degenerates with no redeeming qualities. Add in a pervasive sense of depressing, violent stoicism and you've got a happy Josh.

Some of the reviews I read knocked the game because of the controls but they work for me. The reason they work for me is because they are Io Interactive controls. The game plays very similarly to Freedom Fighters with a radial inventory, the same squad command icons and controls, and desperate run & gun combat. Personally I think the combat kind of kicks ass and if you can use your squad effectively then it makes survival much easier but not by much. Expect to die...a lot. The amount of firepower that sometimes is directed towards you is daunting at times. While trying to escape a Japanese high rise through the front door gave me pause. I sent my squad out first and hung back lobbing smoke and frag grenades and picking off any SWAT who stuck their heads out. I still got picked off and had to restart the scene several times. Another level is based in a nightclub and makes for some awesome gunbattle action what with strobes, smoke, pumping techno, gunfire, and hordes of fleeing patrons screaming in Japanese. This is the kind of game where you can clear a path in the crowd by mowing them down to get a clear shot on your opponent. I noticed too Lynch executes the wounded - cops, gangsters, and civilians alike - if he gets near them. It's actually kind of disturbing but another detail that makes the game so effective.

Of course I have to mention the Jesper Kyd score - yes, yes we all know I heart Jesper Kyd. It's a really bad ass score - even for him. While Hitman had a slick ambient assassin score and Freedom Fighters had an epic "Let's kick Commie ass." score Kane & Lynch has an "I am a bad man doing bad things." score. Don't know what I mean? Imagine that you and your crew are rappeling down the side of skyscraper after getting into a gunfight on the roof. You set explosives to blow out the glass and proceed to machine gun everyone in the room. Got it? Okay now what music is in your head? Probably something pretty similar to Kyd's score for Kane & Lynch.

Kane & Lynch is one hell of a game but in all honesty it's not a blockbuster, there's not a lot of gloss and glitz to the game. I give it a bit more slack because I view it as a training wheels game for Io on the 360. Sure they made a version of Hitman: Blood Money for the 360 but it was just a glossier version of the PS2 version - actually the 360 version looks so much better I was surprised at how rough the PS2 version looks in comparison. It's not a sophisticated example of tactical squad combat at its best. If you're into hardboiled crime/action movies where everyone is pretty much violent, cruel, bitter, and emotionally scarred then you'll enjoy Kane & Lynch.


Oh yeah and Fresca is pretty good even if people think it's an old person drink.

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