If we had lazyitis, we'd probably take one look at Kane & Lynch and diagnose it as 'Freedom Fighters meets Hitman', with a more ambitious narrative. But that would be lazy, even if it turns out to be true. Instead, we'll continue to quote the official line in the absence of actually having had a hands-on. In Eidos' bestest PR speak, we're told to look forward to a "story-driven, fully co-operative third-person action shooter title, with intuitive crew mechanics, heavily populated destructible real-world scenarios, a volatile partnership and brutal attitude."
During our visit to Leipzig a couple of weeks back, we had a chance to sit down with IO's art director Martin Kramme Guldbaek and chat about the game's development, whether we'll see it on other platforms, how long the game is, and about the torture of making a decent demo.
Eurogamer: Can you tell us about the multiplayer at this stage?
Martin Kramme Guldbaek: The multiplayer - which is a pretty big part of the whole package is based upon one single idea which we can't really figure out why nobody has had before, so we're going to wait at least half a year before we release any info on that, because it looks like a new online game mode. We would hate it if someone beats us to it, it would be pretty annoying.
Eurogamer: When's it out? Which platforms?
Martin Kramme Guldbaek: It's a Spring 2007 release, and it's announced on PC and 360.
Eurogamer: Any particular reason you've ignored PS3? Surely you have dev kits?
Martin Kramme Guldbaek: We have quite a few of them, we have 15 or something like that. We have done a lot of development work at IO on PS3.
Eurogamer: Ok, then maybe you're not up to speed as much on PS3 as the other platforms?
Martin Kramme Guldbaek: There are a few things, I think, we're technically up to speed with. The 360 has been performing well in-house for quite a while. There are some online capabilities that we're not completely sure of how they work on the PS3, so there's some uncertainty there. We can't talk about it. Doing three modes on a new franchise on two platforms simultaneous release is a bit of a feat.
Eurogamer: Why aren't you doing Kane & Lynch on PS2 and Xbox as you did with Blood Money?
Martin Kramme Guldbaek: There's no Xbox market, they're selling super few games right now. The PS2... It's a possibility, but launching a new franchise is dangerous on an old format. You have to sell it at full price, and there aren't too many first time buyers. It doesn't have many of the 'front runner' as such, and also when we do this on 360 and PC, quite a bit of marketing money comes in from Eidos. That way, launching a new franchise is easier on emerging consoles. I'm not saying things won't happen, but it would jeopardise the deadline seriously. Our engine is super scalable, and it is running on the PS2 still, but it's just the amount of submission, different languages... it doesn't fit with how much money you make out of it. And it's BORING! [laughs]
Eurogamer: How long have you been working on Kane and Lynch?
Martin Kramme Guldbaek: About a year.
Eurogamer: Is that all? That's pretty swift development these days...
Martin Kramme Guldbaek: No it inherited a lot from earlier projects, like Hitman, there is some technology, but it's mainly used in specific areas like heavily populated city areas where you decide when the action starts, but that's more or less all we used from Hitman. We used a lot of Freedom Fighter - we were happy with the base mechanics, so we've taken that and refined it a little bit, and then built the framework around the new franchise, namely Kane & Lynch.
Eurogamer: Is this a much more combat-heavy game?
Martin Kramme Guldbaek: A lot of it is.
Eurogamer: Any stealth elements involved?
Martin Kramme Guldbaek: There are stealth elements - not in the way that you'd think of it like Splinter Cell, it is much more stealth in the way that I take care of a few guards so that the 15 other guards don't see what you're doing. The game has close combat as well so that each part makes more sense, especially when you're in civilian areas. We'll be seeing something in the night club where if we didn't play in god mode and didn't have unlimited ammo, there would be quite a bit of stealth and close combat with the guards
Eurogamer: We noticed in Hitman Blood Money some references to Kane & Lynch. Does that mean that this is part of the Hitman universe in some way?
Martin Kramme Guldbaek: That I can't comment on. I can't... I won't comment on that.
Eurogamer: That's a yes then!
Martin Kramme Guldbaek: Naaaaah, it means we'd be stupid to give a definitive answer.