IO On Kane & Lynch Scandal & Scores

Games Radar have thrown up an agreeably frank interview with IO Interactive’s Jens Peter Kurup, the director on the now infamous Kane & Lynch. It focuses specifically on the game’s critical drubbing – or, at least, perceived critical drubbing – and features some discussion of the Jeff Gertsmann firing over his Gamespot review of K&L. A “conspiracy theory”, to Kurup’s mind.

“It was surreal to sit in Copenhagen and watch the game get shredded in forums for reasons and feelings that didn’t all seem entirely based on the game itself. I know this might sound like a sissy song of “Boo-hoo! This isn’t fair” and other unproductive thoughts, but you asked me how I felt and I did feel like that for a couple of weeks after the GameSpot review. Pathetic I know, but in glimpses I still feel it, because when I meet somebody who hasn’t played the game, I can be fairly sure that his or her opinion is based on the GameSpot review. It just won’t go away.”

Worth a read, especially now we all (hopefully) have enough distance from the Gamespot fustercluck to think about it, and the game involved, calmly. I do keep meaning to give K&L a play, as it’s honestly very difficult to believe the guys behind the excellent Hitman: Blood Money could mess up quite as badly as popular opinion seems to have it.

Oh – notably, Kurup refers to the game as ‘Kane & Lynch 1’. They wouldn’t – would they?


  1. Jonas says:

    Maybe if they’d put their game designer in charge instead of a director, the gameplay would’ve been good. One suspects they spent so much time on story, aesthetics, and character dynamics (making all of it as depressing as possible) only to forget actually making the action any fun.

    I mean it’s not a bad game, it just has a surprising amount of bad design decisions (especially the auto-cover system and the weird-ass camera angle). It truly is a 60% game.

  2. Ian says:

    I’m with you Alec in that I love Hitman and haven’t played Kane and Lynch but think it must at least be alright. I intentionally left it a while after some reviews to make sure I was going into it objectively. Playing a game and expecting it to be awful never helps.

  3. The Hammer says:

    I remember thinking I’d like this promising title more than the indifferent Hitman.

  4. Optimaximal says:

    Content wise, the game was ‘apparantly’ good – a good plot, interesting developed characters, good level design, settings and set pieces. The gameplay was even fairly close to Freedom Fighters.
    It was just let down by a horrid control system that sought to automate a lot of the functions, such as covering, which was over zealous. They also totally ruined the multiplayer on the PC version by limiting it to either 1 machine with a second guy using a 360 pad in split screen mode or Live Gold-only online matches.

    Note my use of the word apparantly – I don’t have the game – it’s £10 in a lot of places now but I still can’t buy it incase I’m disappointed by it. IO have a great track record in my eyes (I’ve owned all their games at one point or another) and I don’t want to ruin it.

  5. schizoslayer says:

    Never read the Gamespot review myself on the basis that it’s Gamespot. However I’ve still not played the game because my friends that have played it told me to steer clear as it was boring.

  6. Ian says:

    @ Optimaximal: Freedom Fighters, there’s a game that needs a sequel.

    Luckily, IO have said it’s on the agenda they just don’t know when. Which hopefully means they’ve started on it and are just keeping under wraps for now. :)

  7. Joe says:

    Having finished it, it isn’t that it’s a bad game really – just a hugely mediocre one for the most part. The latter stages of the game really fall down too where it’s less resovoir dogs and more rambo.

  8. Mogs says:

    Eidos are to blame (and GameSpot/CNet for having zero integrity), but he’s unlikely to tear into the parent company…

    *sigh* Industry consolidation LOL.

  9. Pavel says:

    The game was good. 7/10 good. Hitman is brilliant. 10/10 brilliant.

    Please announce the next Hitman game, will ya?

  10. Jonas says:

    I get his point on the unlikeable characters – certainly characters don’t need to be goodie-two-shoes all the time, but playing an undiluted asshole can get a little tiring. There has to be something to like and relate to, be it a strong sense of honour, a quick wit… a slight breach of the bad character. The endings reflect this problem – they should be tragic, but they end up just being kind of a let-down.

    But even so, the direction of the game is definitely not the problem. The pervasive negativity of the plot and its characters is just sort of a pinch of salt in the wound left by the clunky controls and the overly simplified gameplay. There are also some massive difficulty spikes about half-way into the game, when the game turns into Rambo, as Joe says.

  11. Zeewolf says:

    I loved this in coop mode.

  12. Donald Duck says:

    It really was a shit game, though. Controls terribly, wonky graphics, poor AI and a story that definitely didn’t live up to the “mature” (apparently saying “fuck” in every sentence) ambitions. Too bad it ended up as a load of rubbish.

  13. onkellou says:

    Completely disagree. I liked the game, a lot. The graphics were terrific (with tons of style), the characters and stroytelling were great. No idea what’s supposed to be bad about the controls, either.

    Felt a bit old-school, but it’s one of the most ridiculously underrated games of the last few years. That said, I played the PC version, I hear the 360 version was plagued by all kinds of problems, and that together with the Gamespot incident obviously did the job.

  14. Valentin Galea says:

    I … Loved… That… Game!

  15. kuddles says:

    I truly don’t understand people who say they love this game. As someone who adored Freedom Fighters and the Hitman series, K&L was a disaster. The gameplay was broken (hit detection was completely unreliable for starters), level design was dull, the game looked ugly and yet ran like a dog, and even the cinematics looked unfinished, which didn’t matter much because the story was a mess. And the final levels in the jungle were outright broken. It was an IO game released in Alpha form.

    This is the one weird thing about some gamers and their claims months later that I cannot comprehend. Highly praised and well-made games like BioShock, Oblivion, Crysis, suddenly become boring, broken messes. And then games like Kane & Lynch come out, that are undeniably broken, and suddenly they’re great games the critics didn’t get. There’s even people out there now claiming Turning Point was superior to COD4.

    Seriously, you can argue about the merits or flaws most games, but if you think K&L is anything other then pure garbage, there is something wrong with you.

  16. Tom says:

    Please announce the next Hitman game, will ya?

    NEVER!!! Don’t over-milk cows, even the fat and strong ones.
    Blood-money has such a terrific ending, they would totally ruin the game, by sticking something else onto its end, story wise I mean. You just cannot beat getting up out of your coffin in slow motion, guns ablaze :-D

  17. manintheshack says:

    It really wasn’t a good game, especially following on from the last (excellent) Hitman. I never read any reviews, bought it on the day of release and gave it back the next day. It left me with a feeling of dread that Blood Money was just a fluke. Let’s face it, the prior Hitmans (Hitmen?) weren’t much cop.

  18. Jonas says:

    Tom: Hitman 5 has actually already been announced by Eidos.

    link to

  19. Daz says:

    Imagine playing Hitman but solely in “run and gun” mode, with lots of swearing and annoying buddy AI. That’s Kane & Lynch.

  20. Ian says:

    Bad luck for you Tom, Hitman 5 is happening it’s just they haven’t said when it’ll be released.

    Of course it won’t be bad luck really, because the game will be as good as ever. :)

    @ manintheshack: I haven’t played the first Hitman game, but Hitman 2 was excellent and the third was okay too. If you’d played the third and compared to Bloody Money I can see why you’d think BM was a flash in the pan, but the second game was a flawed diamond. Some of the missions on it were absolutely cracking.

  21. onkellou says:

    Seriously, you can argue about the merits or flaws most games, but if you think K&L is anything other then pure garbage, there is something wrong with you.

    Of course…and as I can see from your post, you have such a reaosnable point of view. Ugly, ran like a dog, boring level design. Nothing of which I find even reomtely true. Sounds to me like you didn’t like the game, but can’t differentiate at all what was good about it, and what wasn’t.

    The bandwagon mentality amongst the gaming public is rather sad these days.

  22. Heliocentric says:

    next hitman is already in production. I forget where i read this though.

    Hitman blood money apparently cost a stupid amount of money to make, if they make another one they’ll likely make some sacrifices. Attempts at procedural generation?

  23. Dominic White says:

    I’ve seen so many varations of ‘If you like X game, then there’s something wrong with you’ lately that it’s getting worrying. Videogames are hugely subjective – everyone likes something different. Hell, I thought Starcraft was a huge snoozefest that I endured solely for the plot, but I know it’s massively popular with most, so I don’t go pissing on their cornflakes. They’re having fun where I couldn’t – more power to them!

    Are people really so bitter and emotionally invested in their games that they look down on and feel the need to insult people who enjoy other things? That’s just sad. Pathetic, even. Don’t do it – it displays all the emotional maturity of a three-year-old.

    As for Kane & Lynch, I thought it was a decent rental, but not one to keep – short, linear, decent co-op. For the record, I didn’t like Hitman 1 at all, quite liked Hitman 2 & Contracts, loved Freedom Fighters and adored Blood Money.

  24. Jonas says:

    Your words are wise, Dominic, but I think we can never-the-less agree that if you like Big Rigs, something is almost certainly very wrong with you ;)

  25. Ian says:

    I’m sorry Dominic, but if you don’t like blinkered generalisations there’s something wrong with you.


  26. Rook says:

    I liked K&L, it helps that it’s quite short though. It did something interesting at least in making you play as scum, and somehow gunning down innocents remains fun.

  27. Esha says:

    I admit, I haven’t played Kane and Lynch.

    Don’t lynch me yet!

    …no, I’m not at all sorry about that statement, though it’s probably things like this that scare people off before I get to the meat of my posts. Or perhaps it’s the meat of my posts that scare people away from the meat of my posts, because they are walls of text. Also: talking repeatedly of meat is another good way to turn people away.

    Note: This is going to be a somewhat meaty post. Shank meaty.

    If anyone’s still reading now, I’ll be frankly amazed.

    So, to the topic: Esha (who’s now talking about himself in the third person in an even greater effort to cull the post-reading herd) didn’t play Kane & Lynch, why?

    Kane & Lynch felt like Hitman, and Grand Theft Auto, and every other bloody game centered around a criminal for whom society is to blame. I’m so tired of that and it’s hard to do well. In fact, it actually took me a long while to warm up to Niko in Grand Theft Auto IV because of this, I was actually more of a fan of Roman and I wanted to play him. That would’ve been funny, and somewhat interesting. But no, game characters have to be athletic so I got stuck with Niko “I was ruined by war, so now I don’t give a shit about people and I jack cars.” Bellic.

    I did warm up to Niko eventually, he’s a fun character, but it took a very long time. And what I’ve covered above is why. Why does it always have to be about that? It’s getting so old. I see these games on the shelves and that’s what I’m thinking to myself, it’s another one of those games. Do those games really sell well because of that?

    So that’s why I didn’t get Kane & Lynch. I didn’t want to have that whole criminal-element-but-not-really-so-bad thing crammed down my throat again.

    There are so many other alternatives.

    I want to play as a mentally disturbed janitor who has a portal to a dark World in which his mob becomes a magical super weapon, but whenever he’s there it fuels his insanity so he eventually comes out a little more crazy. I want the game to end with him in an insane asylum after both going over the deep end in reality but also having been the hero of that alter-dimension.

    I could play as a hobo, who’s working to create some kid of mad hobo alliance against a predator seeking to “cull the herd”, something which no one has noticed because nobody cares about some bum on the street. I want to get together a crack team of people who have varied and weird skills that never found their niche in society and I want to take the fight to whatever’s hunting them.

    I want that crazy shit, the kind of thing that runs so rampant around my head. I do not care for these criminals, or these buffed army idiots. I want Super Insane Orange Suit Janitor Man Game instead!

    And this is why I didn’t really want anyone reading this far down, because I knew that this post would make me seem rather mentally unbalanced, and this is why I don’t like talking about why I don’t like what the mainstream likes.

    So, I’m going to leave it at that.

  28. Lenny says:

    Considering the fact that there is still no patch for this game, no amount of forum posting or mail-writing at/to Eidos has yielded anything positive… AND I STILL CANT PLAY THIS GAME BECAUSE IT CRASHES ON STARTUP ON 3 DIFFERENT PCS… i would say i am somewhat biased.
    But still, for some reason, its still right there on my desk, its package mocking me as if it were to say… “mmmhm, you want to try me, dont you ? well you cant !!!!”

    I was going somewhere with this, but i forgot where.

  29. MetalCircus says:

    It was a good enough game. It does depress me a bit to see gamers rubbishing it for having good characters and stories. It’s like, well you’d whinge about Halo for being rubbish in these areas wouldn’t you? So why rubbish K&L for having good characters? It just makes no sense. But then again, gamers are fickle I’ve noticed. Very fickle.

    :edit: I agree with Dominic, pretty much what I think about the whole “lolz yu liek shit gaemz u must b unkwl” thing that people in games get so caught up with.

  30. Esha says:

    s/mob bcomes/mop becomes/ – I really have to find out if there’s a way to get an account with this WordPress thing so that I may edit my typos.

    Also, after reading that… I can’t help but think that really I just want Grant Morrison making video games. /sigh Though possibly with less drugs and pretentiousness.

  31. Dominic White says:

    Jonas: Well, there’s exceptions to every rule. Big Rigs is one of those few games that is straight-up objectively bad. They’re pretty rare, though.

    A lot of people act like any game that gets a metascore under the 80% mark is terrible, though, which is pretty wrongheaded.

  32. araczynski says:

    i thought the game was great, unfortunately i didn’t force myself to play through much of it as i ran into that USB pause bug, not sure if it was ever fixed with a patch?

    gamespot is a tard site, as are their reviews typically. only little kids rely on them for anything. unfortunately little kids are also the ones that then turn around and yap about what they read on crapspot as if they experienced it firsthand.

  33. Diogo Ribeiro says:


    Not having played K&L either – mainly due to not having hardware reasonable enough to invest in it, aka. “it doesn’t fit my particular set of tastes” – I believe it comes down to delivery. I have no fantasies about controlling characters like Niko Bellic or the mute guy from GTA3. However, I find it more appealing when the delivery of these characters has its merits. Vice City understood the intimacy between character and fiction and hence why its lead character, without ever reaching buddy status as one would atribute to Mario, was convincing. A criminal, but a smart and charismatic one at that, who was in it for himself and the money. Not the noblest of intentions but when character, narrative and gameplay so intimately build themselves around a unifying concept, it pays off. It’s not endearing but it pulls and tugs at you.

    San Andreas, on the other hand, pissed all over itself with a main character who is on a path to redemption, hampered by a corrupt officer who holds a metaphoric axe over his head by virtue of some false evidence which he can imprison Carl again. Yet, as the player pumps lead into all directions and writes his name on the tarmac with someone’s innards, it disconnects – Carl is no longer the lamb, but the lion. The inital premise is a more endearing one (clearing one’s name instead of smearing it), but the presentation delivers the opposite. While Tommy is a criminal his reasons remain interconnected to the gameplay; we don’t want to be the criminal but want to be the character that, regardless of motivation, is fundamentally a part of the narrative and gameplay; rather than being a peon of the designers and players’ whims, much like Carl is.

    To K&L’s credit, while the main characters can be often seen as husks devoid of personality, the delivery is sometimes good enough to appeal to gamers. It’s not the “fucks” that give it character, it’s the disjointed personalities that conflict against each other so often. The irony, perhaps, is that so many come from a background similar to yours – the search for a novel approach – but when the relationship between two main characters does not fall into the tropes of a buddy movie (or at least play out like a buddy movie from hell), it’s all but dismissed.

  34. onkellou says:

    Note to self: don’t post while you’re in a hurry, you make even more typos than usually! :)

  35. Esha says:


    I have no problem with anything you’ve said, and I even agree with some of it, but…

    “The irony, perhaps, is that so many come from a background similar to yours – the search for a novel approach – but when the relationship between two main characters does not fall into the tropes of a buddy movie (or at least play out like a buddy movie from hell), it’s all but dismissed.”

    I want to stress that I’m not interested in the whole buddy movie concept, to be honest. And I can’t see that I gave the idea that I was, if that was in relation to what I posted at all. I’m simply after characters which are well fleshed out in relation to an environment which hasn’t been done a million times before (to death, ad nauseum).

    This is just a point I wished to stress, because I couldn’t see it in my post and that’s something I didn’t want to be pinned with if it was in relation to. I don’t care for the whole “buddy movie” approach either, that’s simply an attempt to add plastic life to characters which are still dead regardless.

  36. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Esha: Judging by your comments here, and on Argonauts, I have to say… I pretty much agree on all of your points. Especially with regards to art and general game direction.

    Though my quest for, er, novelty isn’t quite as pronounced as yours. Sometimes, mildly refreshing will do.

    I can’t quite speak from experience with the game myself, but we’ve got MetalCircus praising K&L for good characterization, and that’s probably the one time I’ve run into someone describing that aspect, of that game, in a positive light. Every other description seems to point out that K&L is “yet another game, in a long and storied tradition of stock game direction, starring sociopaths and bastards.” Which kind of put me off more than Gerstmanngate or any remarks on poor gameplay.

    Some people approach games for primarily one element, gameplay–a very reasonable element, actually. I tend to approach all but the barest, most indie or casual games as “experiences.” Where all elements add up to a whole: Play, Direction (Art and Music), Story (and Narrative beyond plot). If at least two out of three hit the mark, I’m inclined to like a game–even if it winds up being a “Guilty Pleasure.”

    In this case, though, what buzz I’d heard about K&L in all three general elements of the “experience” don’t quite sync up well with me. Gameplay that most regard as substandard, direction that’s generally opposite my tastes (and a bit stale in the current market), and a story of similar bent.

    In short: “Yet another game whose cast consists of mean-looking, dirty-mouthed, violence-inclined jerks. I’ll pass on it–not like I’m made of money, you know?”

    Aside: And even if the description is inaccurate, you can’t fault someone from getting that impression from the buzz about the game. It’s the devs who made it what it is–the game direction was their choice, and they knew what they were aiming for. Still, a lot hinges on that first impression.

  37. kadayi says:

    I thought Gerstmanns review was pretty shitty tbh. It seemed more a case of him hating the premise (nasty unapologetic criminals) than the game itself, and it almost sounded like he was advocating people pirate K&L in his summary at the end of the video review. If anything that’s the reason he got shown the door. Certainly it’s not a perfect game, but it was a solid 7/10 game for me and I enjoyed playing it.

  38. Esha says:


    Exactly my sentiments, and thank you for being more eloquent than I am about it. I’m too bloody odd to be eloquent most of the time, or succinct. And I mean that sincerely because you do put your points well, and you hit the nail on the head when you talk about direction.

    I actually approach movies in the same way, to be honest. A lot of movies are just a guilty pleasure, it’s just some mindless nonsense I’ll sit in front of and try to enjoy if it’s interesting enough but it won’t be the kind of thing that really intrigues me. There’s one movie I’d like to cite here but I can’t bloody remember the complete name of it for the life of me…

    IMDB, here I come!

    Pan’s Labyrinth!

    That was one movie that made me sit on the edge of my seat, rubbing my chin occasionally in actual interest. That’s one movie I tend to talk about awkwardly, partly because I always get so excited about it but also partly because I can never remember the full bloody name of the thing.

    It wasn’t just another special effects exxxxtravaganza (damn you, Croshaw!), it was just special. And interesting, so interesting.

    Then there are those weird movies that are so very WTF and thought-inducing whilst actually being full of special effects at the same time.

    Like Day Watch.

    Loved you, Day Watch.

    The thing is though, what usually saturates the media isn’t at all well directed, or well written, nor does it have great art direction, and it completely lacks vision, and passion and those things that make a bloody great movie great.

    And all this is true of games, too.

  39. Rook says:

    re: So that’s why I didn’t get Kane & Lynch. I didn’t want to have that whole criminal-element-but-not-really-so-bad thing crammed down my throat again.

    Kane and Lynch are never portrayed as “not really so bad” at all during the game. It’s quite clear that they’re complete scumbags. Which does make them a little more interesting.

  40. c-Row says:

    I truly enjoyed K&L, even though the later part of the game didn’t live up to the earlier stages like the night club. Hitman, on the other hand, has always bored me. To each his own.

  41. Esha says:

    If that’s the case Rook, I just might play it.

    It’s not so bad when the game admits that they’re actually the scum of the Universe and doesn’t try to make excuses for whomever it is they chose to be (I really dislike that angle).

    I guess I’m jaded, that’s the problem. I’ve seen so many games where the Bad, Bad Man isn’t really a Bad Man at all, he’s just misunderstood so The Anonymous Gamer at home can feel better about actually playing as him, and so the developers can make weak excuses about him being some kind of anti-hero.

  42. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    A little, but not nearly as interesting as playing an abject coward. They’re “ballsy” types, which feed into the usual escapist fantasies, so the only thing interesting about them is that they rather more firmly place themselves in the Heroic Sociopath trope than the norm. Judging by your own description, anyway.

    By the way, the concept is basically a “free from restraint” power fantasy that you can see from a mile away. The “Very, very, very Bad Guy Hero–Very Bad” is by no means new to videogames, or fiction in general. It’s more common in media directed at a demographic geared straight at young men who aren’t yet bored with it. Which, as it so happens, describes the gamer pretty well. Also: Comics.

    I’d like to see a game where you play a pragmatic, self-absorbed, cowardly, manipulative little twat. And end up liking him, perhaps for his dry wit, as well as the hilariously over-the-top situations he unwillingly finds himself forced into. Even then… I think someone might actually have done just that. It’s possible, you know.

    As far as videogames go, it’s easy to see your face plastered on shiny white-knight armor. It’s just as easy to put on a black hat and go on a psychopathic killing spree. (*Waves at the nice Mr. Kurup.)*

    That stuff isn’t really that interesting at all. Hell, I do that in Fallout all the time. (In both cases.)

    So trying to say K&L is “different” seems to be counting on your audience having a very small frame of reference.

  43. Diogo Ribeiro says:


    A slight error in communication perhaps, as I know by reading your post that you were not interested in the buddy movie approach, nor that you gave off such an idea. My reply was meant to address that the game’s premise – of two characters having to work together to reach a goal – certainly might put off those who are tired of such a buddy movieesque approach, but while its presentation is not one that folds neatly into its tropes, it still ends up being considered as “usual” for those looking for a novelty in their gaming.

  44. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    But when you describe K&L as a buddy movie, it does bring up a funny image. Which would probably do more to sell the idea to me. Hell, I nearly bought a copy of Gears of War (PC) because of the “So Macho” video.

    I get something of a devilish grin whenever I see Dead Serious, or Serious Bastard IPs get their knees cut out from under them.

    It’s a special kind of schadenfreude, this. Though not altogether uncommon.

  45. Switchbreak says:

    I played all the way through Kane & Lynch in co-op on the PS3, and maybe it’s because I just don’t play enough bad games, but I consider it one of the worst I’ve ever suffered through. The control was floaty and absolute crap, and I always felt like I was fighting the game.

    There’s a boss who drives a truck, and has a random chance of running over your daughter, which ends the game, for each pass he makes in the truck. Under concentrated fire, it took the two of us three passes to kill the truck, which meant he had three random chances to kill the daughter and end the game, sending us back to the last checkpoint to watch an unskippable cutscene. This is abhorrent game design. There were thrown controllers.

    If you haven’t played this game, then take my word for it: everyone was not wrong about it. It is bad. You are not missing anything.

  46. Nallen says:

    I accidentally the whole game.

  47. Chaz says:

    Like a few here, I would have given K&L a 7/10 too. I quite enjoyed the first few levels which really captured the gangster/heist movie feel quite well. That later levels though that were set in a banana republic city undergoing a coup and out in the jungle were quite underwhelming, and that bit with the jeep was just terrible. Had they stuck with the whole urban crime theme all the way through, it would have been a much better game.

    I never really had that much of a problem with the controls or aiming, although it admittedly it was a bit twitchy. I’m finding Mercenaries 2 is suffering the same problem when it comes to the aiming, but I notice no ones ever mentioned that in a review of it.

    I know K&L wasn’t a fantastic game and it did have its problems, just as many other games do, but I did think it got some quite unfair reviews.

  48. Daz says:

    I think that unless you create a game experience that is very tightly scripted, any attempts to project a character type on to the avatar are going to fail.

    Ultimately, if your game is about killing things, it’s about killing things. With no choice or moral repercussions, the justification for doing so is irrelevant and the execution (no pun intended) is everything.

  49. Turin Turambar says:

    I finished it, a 6/10 score was appropiate. Of course, i could say the same of lots of other games with a higher score…

  50. Dracko says:

    Gertsmann writes a review about a game he barely played, gets fired for lack of professionalism; but of course becomes some kind of industry martyr and helps undermine a perfectly fine game.

    He [is a hero to me and I would marry him.]

    So yes, Jens Kurup is perfectly right. It’s a shame the gaming audience is still fickle and listens to critics in the first place.