kane & lynch: in utero

I spent about 4 hours playing it last night and I’m pretty sure am a level or two away from the end. The best I can say about it is that it reminds me of The Club, or really any current Sega 3rd person shooter. What I mean by that is there is a lot of shooting and killing without any feeling of friction. The game world is surprisingly lush for a world that all I really do is run and shoot in. Most of it has to do with colored lights and how many people the engine can render at one time (a lot), but all the same there are still some nice and memorable set pieces.

The downside is that after the basically contiguous jailbreak and heist segments, the game sticks to two characters in a teleporter or something, and then just warps them to the next level. It goes: botched heist in america -> club in tokyo segment that ends on a rooftop -> a small, super traditional park between a bunch of highway overpasses (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_Island ??) that ends with you running up a stairwell to the highway -> back in america, in a construction site -> a prison break-out mission, where the game actually justifies all of its idiotic time/place leaps by signaling that it actually exists in Michael Bay land. it does this by having our two heroes smash through the side of the prison’s concrete wall with this. Clearly, all bets are off and everything absurd can now happen. This means that two guys take on an entire prison’s worth of guards, manage to free some associates, and escape, only to -> suddenly be back in Japan, on the top of a building. they rappel down, shoot a bunch of guys in a board room and then fight their way down the building, down the street and to a bus station, where the getaway van is -> then they are in Havana, wearing fatigues. It was like Laurel & Hardy: Cuba!

There is a thin bit of connective web between these levels, in the form of dialogue during the load screen.
“Kane, why are we going to Havana?”
“Because that’s where the guys we need to kill are!”
(cue Havana)

“Lynch, I can’t believe you shot his daughter!”
“Kane, relax, we’ll just talk to The7 and it’ll be alright!”
(cue construction site and them about to be executed)

“Kane, why are we BACK in Tokyo!?!?”
“Because that’s where the guy we need to kill is!”

I kid, I kid. Sort of. The game was touted as having a continuous narrative between characters, one that played out as they talked to each other during gameplay. Everything plot-and-tension-wise was to be embedded in the gameplay, and it largely is. But how interesting can something really be when you spend all of your time shooting? There is some attempt made at creating an intense friction between the two characters, where there was an obvious and mounting desire to kill the other, but it’s abandoned about halfway through for your standard buddy-movie character dynamics.

All of that said, it’s still fun in the way that shooting stuff is usually fun. It doesn’t have any fine gameplay points, and the actual most interesting things about it are the graphics and how it renders each and every bullet, its trail and accounts for travel time. In other words, the guns don’t hit-scan. The bullet-model that you fire from your gun-model has to actually come into contact the dude-model for the game to make him be like ‘ohhh you shot me’. Which I like.