Kane & Lynch: Dead Men - hands-on

Fortunately, Lynch isn’t your only ally. As a former mercenary, Kane has contacts… and though his rep is in tatters at the start of the game, he’ll eventually be able to scrape together a team of guns for hire. You order these people around with simple, symbol-button controls - Go, Attack and Stay are the only commands - but they’ll do their own thing surprisingly well, letting you create exact movements with minimum fuss. As Kane’s notoriety increases, he can recruit more men until your team size is increased from four to eight. At this point, some members will turn into what Io calls “orbiters” - they’ll operate in pairs, minimizing the need to spend lots of time ordering every single person around.

Another crucial aspect of teammates is tied to the health system. There’s no energy bar for the characters - the screen goes red when you’re on the brink of death, showing that it’s time to find some cover. Hide for a few seconds and you’re back to full strength - take another couple of shots and you’re dead. If a teammate is close by, they can save your ass - get yourself “killed” and they’ll dash up and give you a shot of adrenaline, letting you get back to your feet. It’s a similar system to the one used in Io’s squad shooter Freedom Fighters, and it works.

What’s really impressive about Kane & Lynch, though, isn’t the anti-heroes, the team dynamics or even the filthy-mouthed repartee - it’s how it looks. So far, only a handful of games have used PS3 to provide anything more than a glossy coat of paint to a distinctly last-gen experience - Dead Men is one of the rare few that offer an experience that wouldn’t be possible on PS2. The club and Tokyo high street missions - we’re playing both - offer environments, detail and swathes of people like nothing you’ve seen before. No wonder Lynch occasionally starts shaking.

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