Kane & Lynch: Dead Men - first look

Unlike all the other buddy-buddy games with funny names (Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, etc), the brooding seriousness of Kane and Lynch: Dead Men buries gamers in a murder-soaked world that most of us hope to never visit. Then again... taking control of two out-of-their-minds assassins and tearing the world a new one sounds like one hell of a videogame.

The game plays much like the Hitman series - guide your characters through a series of constantly updating missions while trying to avoid detection and taking out your fleshbag targets. What immediately separates Lynch from the pack is its thick-as-molasses presentation, designed to overtake your senses and hide the fact that you're just playing a game. Life bars, weapon counts, all that stuff is hidden from view, placing an emphasis on graphics and, get this, what's actually happening on the game world, not a bunch of flashing arrows and glowing buttons.

So how do you know when to turn and run? If the screen's flashing red, that means you're getting nailed, and like real people, you can't take a lot of damage. Running away and taking a second to catch your breath will recharge your meter, which should balance out the whole "can't take more than two hits" business. Of course, if you do go down, the other player can actually revive you as many times as needed to complete the mission, be it "grab the girl" or "kill it!" This sense of teamwork will be a major part of Lynch, as the uneasy truce these two share is strained from the very beginning.