Review: Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

PSYCHOTIC KILLER MEETS CONVICTED CRIMINAL

Developer: IO Interactive
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Platform(s): PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Release Date: August 17, 2010
Compatability (PS3): Players 1-2 | 1620MB Mininum Space | DUALSHOCK 3 Vibration Function | HD 720p | Network Players 2-12
Compatability (Xbox 360): Players 1-2 | 60KB Mininum Space | HDTV 720p / 1080i / 1080p | Online Multiplayer 2-8 | Co-Op 2 | System Link 4-8
Rating: 6.5

Kane and Lynch seem to find themselves in bad situations, both in and out of the two games they have starred in. Their first outing, Kane and Lynch: Dead Men, was almost universally critiqued as a missed opportunity and a bland generic shooter. The controversy surrounding the game was far more interesting than the actual game itself. IO Interactive was given a second chance in achieving their original goal and, while it is a better game overall, it is not a great game. There are hints of interesting aspects in the game that never become fully developed. The game struggles with it identity at a few places in the short campaign before settling into an all action shoot ’em up half way through. There are a couple genuinely interesting ideas in the game but unfortunately none of them are fully realized.

The story mode makes up the bulk of the content and, while nowhere near perfect, will sustain your interest for its short duration. When I say short I mean almost criminally short. The main game takes about four to five hours to complete on the normal difficulty setting. This may be the primary reason for the games ability to keep you interested, which I cannot commend. The game starts with Kane arriving in Shanghai, where Lynch has resided for a few years and has started a life. He has a girlfriend whom he loves and overall has seemed to have got his life back together … for the most part, he is still working odd jobs as a mercenary. Kane comes to town for a big mission for an Englishman working under one of Shanghai’s crime bosses. The mission will take them out of the country and the payoff would keep them set for a long time. Obviously things do not go as planned and a botched mission leaves the two at odds with what seems to be all of China. Literally everyone is out to get the pair and it quickly becomes apparent that they have to get out of China. The game tasks the player, playing almost exclusively as Lynch to figure out what is going on and survive the two days they have left in China. Kane and Lynch are not the most endearing of characters, but they are not designed to be. In this game more than the last one however, you start to feel for them a bit. The exposition is relayed through mid-mission dialogue and between mission cut-scenes and conversations. I will say this, about halfway through the game something happens that I neither saw coming nor expected myself to have such a genuinely shocked reaction.

Trouble seems to be running after these two. All the time.

I do not mean to make the story sound better than it is. I actually thought that it was a little too sparse with key information being relayed through the aforementioned phone conversations between mission. There is little visual during these sections of exposition and it invokes a sense of displacement. The characters are only a bit wiser than they were in the first entry but it is noticeable and to not be surprised if you do start to feel bad for the pair. The inability for the game to communicate how the player is supposed to feel is only really a problem in the first half of the game. After the event I mentioned earlier the game becomes a mindless third person cover based shooter, and this is what the game does right. The gameplay is not revolutionary mind you, but it is not trying to be and does to pretty well. Cover is not a for sure safe haven and the AI will move around to get better vantage points and angels to shoot you even when you are in cover. It is a rather big change from the norm where we tend to think of cover as the ultimate safe spot to recover and plan attacks. It does however get very annoying when you are getting shot through a solid cement slab with enemies directly in front of you. They programed in the possibility of getting shot in cover but did not refine it as much as was needed.

The multiplayer aspect of the game is a mixed experience. Some of the more interesting game types feel fresh, like the undercover cop game. In undercover cop mode you and up to seven other players are tasked with a mission on one of the six multiplayer maps (another letdown as six feels like far too few) and one of the eight is chosen to be the undercover cop. Your mission is to not only complete the mission but try and take out the other players so you take all the reward. It creates an interesting dynamic. You need your teammates to work with you and complete the mission, and you need to watch out for the undercover cop. The cop needs to pull his weight and also look for ways to take out your teammates that doesn’t become a red flag that you’re the cop. It is a fun mode and in conjunction with Heist and a few other gameplay types makes for an interesting, if uneven, multiplayer offering.

Interesting and somewhat original visuals. Don't expect a masterpiece though.

The graphics and sound in the game are by far the most interesting aspect of Dog Days. The games visual style is the standout feature. The whole game is relayed through a guerrilla filming style. It is as if someone is always following behind you filming with a video camera complete with shaky effects and a film grain filter. It looks pretty cool and it is something we have not really seen in video games. The shakiness of the camera can become a problem if you are prone to motion sickness. It is no different then what you may have felt watching certain movies, such as Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project. It is important to note that in the options menu you can turn off the shaky cam. The only real problem I had with the visual style is that there was no storyline justification for why it looks like this. Before I played the game I figured there was somebody following the two for a documentary but there is no mention of the effect. This is just a personal preference and does not real detract from the cool visual style. So knowing that, it is hard to grade the graphics because they are intentionally not great. I will say that regardless of gain the character models are not very great. The sound plays into youtube vibe the camera lets off by subtle effects. When a big explosion occurs the sound may crackle and skip. The effect will keep you interested. Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days may be remembered for the interesting visuals and sound.

Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days does many things wrong and few right. The visual style and sound design are really cool but the rest of the game is just so painfully average. The far too short story mode and the small selection of maps in multiplayer only hurt the game further. This is not to say the game is without redemption. The experience is entertaining enough to warrant playing through if for nothing else than seeing the visual effects. The game feels like a missed opportunity and one that, should IO get another chance at, I hope they fully realize.

Reviewed by jamespugh5 – October 7, 2010

Graphics
The shaky effects and film grain filter is awesome. One to look at if you play the game.
 
Sound
Sound is also interesting having some decent voice acting.
 
Fun
Well, fun is not much into Dog Days, being a very short game and missing a lot of details which result in an average game. Nothing special.
 
Final Score

 

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