#4 It's up against some monster franchises
Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, Need for Speed ProStreet, FIFA 08, WWE: SmackDown! vs RAW, Guitar Hero III, Super Mario Galaxy... All these games are obvious contenders for a Christmas number one slot atop the final 2007 charts. They've all got a huge fan base, built-in hype and dependable quality. That's tough competition to take on.
But IO's crimefest has its work cut out against the other new boys, too. Fresh IP's like Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (Metacritic: 88), Mass Effect (Metacritic: 91) and Assassin's Creed (Metacritic: 82) are all highly rated by critics and gamers alike. In the battle for Christmas customers, Kane & Lynch (Metacritic: 66) is a green-gilled middleweight boxer timidly stepping up to the vicious-looking gloves of Muhammad Ali. We predict a knockout blow.
#5 It's IO's first next-gen title, and a brand new IP
We expected a lot from the developer of the wonderfully compelling Hitman series. Perhaps too much. Kane & Lynch was always going to have a hard act to follow, with last year's Hitman: Blood Money arguably the best game in the assassin's tenure, fully employing IO's self-built hardware engine to offer some super-looking, tense and enjoyable action.
But Kane & Lynch was IO's first proper next-gen title (Blood Money was also on PS2) and its first all-out action game since Freedom Fighters. The engine built for Hitman works brilliantly for Agent 47's sneaky-sneaky killings, but Kane & Lynch's run-and-gun focus only serves to highlight the flaws - stiff aiming, confusing camera, slightly bonkers AI.
Developing games is, obviously, a ceaseless learning-curve. We're sure that IO's next offering for next-gen consoles will address all the problems that reviewers have addressed in Kane & Lynch's design. Eidos, however, will have wanted everything to be right first time.
#6 There's been a lot of cash spent, and film rights flogged
The bigger the pile of cash spent on advertising a game across TV, interweb and magazines, the more likely a publisher is going to be overcome with fury when that game isn't successful. And judging from the Kane & Lynch branding performed on GameSpot - complete with cutable trailers and other interactive gubbins - we can safely guess that Eidos plunged a vat of cash into promoting Kane & Lynch in all available media outlets. All we can say is "Ouch".
Then there's the film rights, acquired by Lionsgate Films. Hitman was a superb game series, but it has produced a terrible film. If Kane & Lynch is badly recieved as a game, it'll need to shed a lot of weight and embrace its cinematic inspirations to succeed as a movie. And, even then, it'll be fighting against a lot of people who say "But remember the game?".
It's impossible to say how Kane & Lynchgate (as we won't ever be calling this mess) will impact on GameSpot or Eidos in the future. Will it cripple GameSpot's editorial credibility?(Doubtful.) Has the website permanently lost a chunk of its readership? (More doubtful.) Will the hardcore gamership hold Eidos responsible, and actively boycott its products? (Umm, Deus Ex 3?)
Or, more likely, will the currently raging internet be instantly distracted by Microsoft's next announcement about 65nm chips? Don't ask us, we just work here.