I for one, am bored of goody-goody heroes. Save the world from alien invasion here, overthrow an evil dictator there and rescue the attractive women while you're at it. No doubt they go home and spend their free time rescuing kittens that have got stuck up trees before organising their local neighbourhood watch as well. Give me a gun-toting anti-hero any day.
Well it seems that Io Interactive have been listening to my wishes. The duo of Kane and Lynch make a particularly unsavoury pair, with Kane the ex-mercenary and Lynch filling the role of pill-popping psychopath. The banter between the two, which more often than not puts even my levels of swearing to shame, contrasts neatly with the usual friendly chat between characters (Alyx, I'm looking at you), providing a refreshing change from the norm.
The game starts off in spectacular fashion, with one of the most adrenaline-filled starting levels I've experienced, as you're busted out of your prison van by a group of masked gunmen. As bullets fly through the air and your screen slowly clears from the haze of the crash, you're dumped fully into the deep end, with police, helicopters and SWAT teams all taking a pop at you before you make your escape.
It doesn't stop there either, with the game moving from one thrilling set-piece to another. Robbing banks, car chases, rappelling down buildings and breaking into prisons all provide some brilliantly cinematic levels and serve to keep the game moving along at a steady pace (although I found the last couple of levels more 'meh' than 'wow').
Gameplay itself is pretty straightforward and fast-paced, consisting purely of shooting the crap out of everything, so it's a relatively brainless (but enjoyable) experience. Constant shoot-outs with the police also serve to give the game more than a whiff of the movie Heat, especially one of the later levels which sees your team engaged in a fully fledged street battle, a la the Pacino/De Niro/fat guy who was once Batman gun battle of the film.
The levels are only really let down by one in particular that features a particularly unintuitive bit that had me slamming the mouse in frustration for hours before figuring out the deceptively simple but very unclear solution.
Combat, though, is a rather less polished affair than the set-pieces. While the game features a cover system, it's nowhere near as accomplished as, say, Gears of War. Just walking close to an obstacle makes your character take cover, leading to some inevitably frustrating moments when you'll find yourself stuck up against a wall when really you just wanted to run past it.
While you can blind-fire from behind cover, of far more use is the ability to pop out and take aim for more precision. But this is blighted by the fact that shots sometimes disappear into the object you're taking cover behind and, on occasion, your character will fail to fall back behind cover when finished, leaving you stuck in the middle of the crossfire and, more often than not, dead on the floor just a few seconds later.
Perhaps my biggest annoyance, though, was that at times you can empty entire
clips into enemies who seem impervious to your fire, most notably in the car chases where you can headshoot the pursuing policemen to no effect.
Apparently, bullet-proof noggins are standard issue with the US police nowadays. There's also some slightly awkward squad control too (when is squad control ever not?) although, unlike Freedom Fighters, it's hardly ever needed.
Annoyances aside, the game features some brilliant multiplayer options, and visually it's a maelstrom of beautiful carnage. Despite actually looking ropey on next-gen consoles, on PC it really sparkles, with crisp, detailed characters and gorgeous scenery in some trademark inventive settings - although if I was forced to pick faults, the explosions are a bit lacking.