You also have choices when it comes to how you play through the level. You might prefer to hang back in the initial stages, letting other players run up front and do the work of taking out the police. However, you might find by the time you get to the vault they've already taken the money. This is no good as the overall winner is the player who accumulates the most cash over the course of the rounds. You can also use cash to buy better weapons and armour in between rounds.
But it's not a good idea to pick up huge amounts of cash without thinking first. Each player's current haul is displayed alongside their name above their character, and a USD 1 million bounty could instantly make you a prime target for any nearby rivals. To make things even trickier, characters' balaclavas change colour according to where they're ranking - the richest character's is always black, making them easy to identify.
If you are killed you lose all the money you've collected, but you do get a second chance thanks to one of the cleverest elements of Fragile Alliance. Regardless of whether you were killed by a fellow criminal or an NPC, you get to come back as an armed police officer. You can then get revenge on whoever took you out, or just blast away in a bid to prevent any of the other players from getting away with any cash.
Even as a police officer you still have a chance to win the round. You can earn rewards and pick up money dropped by rivals. If you're killed again, you're properly dead this time and have to sit the rest of the round out.
The options to come back and take revenge, prevent others from winning and even still win yourself add an entirely new dynamic. Combine that with the traitor mechanic and you have an innovative multiplayer mode which you can choose to play in many different ways. You may also find yourself forced to play in different ways as you have to react to other players' actions.
"It plays a little bit like co-op in the beginning, but at one point somebody starts picking up money. What happens when somebody's rich and you're not? You get greedy," observes Kurup.
"That's why we chose the title Fragile Alliance for it. It's not an alliance which always breaks at a specific point. It's based on your human nature, how greedy or loyal you are, and how much you really want to win."
The game's other multiplayer mode is a lot more traditional. It's co-op play on a vertical splitscreen, with one player as Kane and the other as Lynch. There are some interesting twists on the single player game; for example, the player controlling Lynch is shown the world as he sees it. So if Lynch is hallucinating you might see every character on the screen turn into a police officer, or suddenly sprout pigs' heads - while Kane will continue to see the world as it really is.
The splitscreen works fine but Kane & Lynch seems ideally suited to an online co-op mode - so why isn't there one? According to an Eidos representative, it's down to the high technical level of the single player game and the fact that so much is always happening on screen; there are more than 1000 NPCs running around some areas, for example. "That wouldn't work on co-op over the Internet because you'd have to track where each of these 1000 people were, where every bullet was," the rep explains. "It just wouldn't look great."
The question is whether Fragile Alliance is good enough to make up for the lack of an online co-op mode, and the answer could well be yes. It's certainly full of original ideas and interesting dynamics, and it certainly causes people to swear a lot. Having only had the chance to play one map it's hard to make a definitive call at this point, but good on IO for trying to do something different here, and it will be very interesting to see how well it succeeds.