I was enthusiastic about Kane & Lynch. Perhaps that was naïve. Still, at this year's E3 Business and Media Summit, when everyone else was off giving Rock Band the goo goo eyes, I was sitting on a plexiglass bench filled with cocaine and bullets, watching a presentation of what looked like the game to beat this holiday season.
Fast forward to five months later, after I'd pestered Eidos for a review copy, ignored all the trashy schlock they'd sent in the interim and started - but stopped - downloading Kane & Lynch wallpaper about a dozen times. I was actually in distress the day Kane & Lynch hit the home office. I was in the middle of Call of Duty 4, had Guitar Hero III and a half dozen other games sitting unopened next to my TV and was pondering a Sophie's choice; which game to neglect in favor of the long-awaited Kane & Lynch?
I made a bold choice that balmy November day: I decided to put another few hours into Call of Duty 4 and hopefully finish it before moving on. I felt like a traitor at the time. I felt like I was betraying the trust of the Eidos representative who'd faithfully packaged and sent me a copy of the game, like I'd betrayed the review process, the integrity of my profession and the expectations of the audience. I felt like I was a failure as a game journalist.
It's times like these when, looking back, I realize I take things far too seriously.
As I scurried through the last few levels of Call of Duty 4, mouth open, eyes bugged, head spinning, I felt the guilty thrill of doing something selfish at a time when my game playing should have been reserved for one of the myriad titles up for review. I felt like a bad, bad boy, and I felt certain I would pay for this insolence. I was wrong.
I popped Kane & Lynch into my Xbox360 the next day, certain I'd be setting off on another thrill-a-minute ride of gaming glee. Five minutes later I was ready to quit. Not just the game, but my job and all pretensions that I enjoyed playing games and writing about them. I went from feeling like the betrayer to feeling like the betrayed. I realized the E3 presentations all looked so slick because the material shown was as representative of the actual gameplay in Kane & Lynch as Pamela Anderson is of the female species. I realized the cocaine and bullets were supposed to distract my attention from the half-assed engine upgrades and clunky mechanics. I realized the ad campaign, rumors of a movie in progress (starring Bruce Willis) and the highly choreographed press demonstrations were a cynical attempt to attract attention to a game that's little more than cheap knock-off. And I realized it had all worked. I'd been duped into hyping a game that, by all reasonable standards, is simply "meh."