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No, it's not a sequel to the upcoming IO Interactive title. TVG takes part in a heist in Kane & Lynch's innovative multiplayer mode...
Announced back at X06, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men is the forthcoming co-op title from IO Interactive and Eidos. Heading to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, the game follows the story of two criminals as they work together to try and recover loot for a gang of mercenaries holding Kane's wife and daughter, charting their initial break from the cops and the tempestuous antagonism towards each other.
A far cry from IO's 'bread and butter' Hitman franchise with a faster pace to its gameplay, Kane & Lynch's use of squad commands and tactics are more akin to another of the Danish studio's outputs: 2003's Freedom Fighters. Though fully playable as a lone player, Dead Men is set to come alive even more through two-player co-operative gameplay, with one player as Kane, and the other experiencing the hallucinations of the psychotic Lynch. Arriving in the Danish capital of Copenhagen last week, TVG got to grips with one of the scenarios from the Campaign, as well as Kane & Lynch's innovative (and until now, secret) multiplayer mode: Fragile Alliance...
One of the testers in the Quality Assurance department at IO has perfectly summed up Fragile Alliance with a suitable and snappy sound bite: "Play it like a soldier and you'll lose. Play it like a criminal and you'll win..." And having experienced many a heist thanks to our trip to the studio, such a tagline probably couldn't be bettered. A gametype that so thoroughly enters the minds of armed thieves in a way that it would astound Freud, Fragile Alliance sees up to eight players attempt to pull of heists in a bid to steal the most amount of money, and escape from the authorities outside.
Whilst it sounds like a simple enough idea, the fact is that Fragile Alliance is probably the most deeply compelling multiplayer gametype for the last decade, and is sure to become thoroughly compelling to all who play it. Why? Because the adage 'honour among thieves' doesn't even come close to the experience of Fragile Alliance, where friendships will surely be lost in the weeks and months ahead. In a game where greed is the driving force, it's up to players when and if they break ranks and become traitorous, killing one of their own in a bid for more cash before mounting their escape from the waiting NPC SWAT teams and into a getaway car. But taking down a partner in crime instantly changes the course of the game, as the perpetrator becomes a traitor of the group, and highlighted as such for the remainder of the round. Becoming a traitor also affects the subsequent rounds of a match however, with the brotherhood-breaking lot forced to wear black shirts and spawn a short distance away...and of course, vendettas are bound to emerge from that.
Death is also dealt with in an imaginative fashion in Fragile Alliance, as fallen criminals re-spawn on the side of the NPC SWAT team, turning the tables on their objective and tasked with stopping the remaining perps from making a getaway. Players on the side of the thin blue line remain in the game's objective to accrue the most loot, keeping a 10% 'finder's fee' of any loot picked up from the bodies of dead robbers, and additional bonuses for killing the traitorous criminal that made them a cop in the first place. Getting killed in the line of duty however will be the end of the round for players; becoming spectators and left to watch the remainder of the game.
For our hands on time with Fragile Alliance, we had to run the gauntlet of a big US bank and raid money in the process of being transferred into the vault. Running into the building, taking down the bank's security guards along the way, players will have the option to steal small amounts of money from panicked customers huddled on the floor before tackling the big bucks on the basement level. But with the rapid response SWAT team already outside the premises and blocking the exit to the getaway car, it's all a question of timing - hold back from the action (and any traitorous colleague) for too long and you can find yourself surrounded by cops with most of the money already snatched. Getting right into the heart of the action may not be the best idea early on into your thieving career however, as players can improve their chances of survival between matches by kitting themselves out with body armour. In our eagerness (and lack of Kevlar), we tended to get caught up in the action a little too early resulting in plenty of opportunities to gain greater experience as a cop...
Obviously as the sole multiplayer mode, the main concern for Fragile Alliance is whether it will sustain gamers' interest in the weeks after release. However, with its depth of gameplay based upon the actions of a player's fellow criminals, the inclusion of the traitor dynamic, the switch to the blue side after-death, and the intrinsic human trait of greed - not to mention its originality as a gametype...no DeathMatch or Capture the Flag here! Speaking to TVG at the time, Lead Designer Kim Krough explained what prompted the decision to create such an original gametype compared to other titles: "I'm sick and tired of another Deathmatch; I couldn't be bothered with another Capture the Flag or whatever. What I want to make are more game modes. Multiplayer is just taking off, it's been around for fifteen years but we haven't seen any game modes that try to be different."
IO Interactive has also thrown in a nice touch to the ranking system of Fragile Alliance, with the number one and number two players in the world taking control of Kane & Lynch respectively. Discussing the origins of the idea, Krough commented that: "we [IO Interactive] wanted to say that the best player in the world is the best criminal... we said that the higher rank you are, the cooler the character you get. And what would be the coolest character to play as in this game? That's why Kane is number one and Lynch is number two..." Obviously coming across the eponymous characters in Fragile Alliance will be a somewhat rare occurrence, but if they represent the best of the best, it probably won't be a good idea to get too close to them.