Previews

Kane & Lynch: Fragile Alliance

This is why they've kept quiet...

The press rounds for Kane & Lynch: Dead Men have long been surrounded by a veil of discretion. The usual appearances at E3 and Leipzig have exposed the same familiar campaign levels, treading carefully as not to reveal too much of what the Heat-inspired shooter has to offer.

But even though Eidos hasn't been too keen to blow the single-player campaign wide open, Kane & Lynch's illusive multiplayer mode has been completely AWOL... until now.

"It's been under wraps to stop other developers stealing our ideas", IO Interactive explains to us from the bowels of its Ikea-esque Copenhagen studio.

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Tired of generic capture the flag multiplayer games, continues lead designer Kim Krough, IO has gone out and thought up a new scenario for online shooting. "We cannot believe no-one has thought of this before".

Fragile Alliance, as the dev's calling it, is essentially a co-operative bank heist where the killing of team mates is not only possible, it's encouraged. A maximum of eight players are tasked with infiltrating a bank, engaging the computer-controlled security and nabbing as much cash as they can from the vault before the getaway car leaves.

The map we played was a cut-up version of a single-player level featuring a bank. Colourful dialogue and moody menus help keep the gritty feel of single-player, while an over-the-shoulder, Resi 4-style camera makes for frantic, tight indoor battles where a miss-fired shot into the back of your mate's head isn't uncommon at all.

Just like in the single-player game, greed is the running theme in Fragile Alliance. Once your team has infiltrated the bank vault and mowed down most of the resident police officers, you might feel tempted to pop a cap in your comrade to nab his beautiful, beautiful cash.

But as soon as you turn your gun on your fellow robbers you're flagged up to everyone as a traitor - so picking the right moment to turn is essential.

Taking your chances against the team in the infiltration stage will almost definitely get you blasted into the wall. Double points are awarded for traitor kills and your big, orange name isn't going to go unnoticed in the carnage.

Money totals are displayed above players' heads as well, so the richer you get the more of a target you become.

Cash can be collected from tills, money boxes and even customers (all marked up with the big giant dollar signs) by simply standing next to them until the cash is completely drained.

The final sprint to the getaway van is the opportune moment to betray your buddies; let them run ahead to the motor, offload from a distance, collect the cash and escape unharmed. The point to all this? Those that get away with the loot can buy one of three-tiered weapon packs, medium, heavy and special, to use in the next round, while the rest have to make do with the rubbish guns.

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Opposing forces
Adding even more drama to the twist-filled multiplayer is the cop side of the game, which is where you'll end up if you kick the bucket as a robber. If you were killed by another player he'll have a handsome reward plonked on his head, and will be nicely marked out for you to march in and get your revenge.

You're not completely locked in vendetta mode either as a cop. After pegging a few infiltrators you can collect their cash as "reward" money, which is yours at the end of the round whether you die or not.

The balance then, when all but a handful of balaclava men are left, is quickly flipped in the cops' favour and more than two people rarely make it out alive.

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