Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days Review
|Publisher:||Eidos / Square Enix|
|Release Date:||August 20th, 2010 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
The first Kane and Lynch wasn't a big hitter. The gritty crime drama was actually something of a flop.
Despite its brutal nature the gameplay was shallow, the story was weak and the visual design had all the subtlety of a brick through a chip shop window. So it's something of a surprise that the gritty pair somehow got themselves a sequel (as well as a movie deal - how did that happen!). It's even more surprising that the sequel is actually reasonably good.
Set a few years after the events of Kane and Lynch: Dead Men, Dog Days sees the criminal pair reunite in Shanghai to pull off an arms deal and make enough money to finally retire - hopefully.
Before long you're going to find yourself knee-deep in bodies, drugs, hookers and piles of dirty cash, chased by a brutal Shanghai drug lord and once again on the run from the police. All in a day's work for gaming's grittiest anti-heroes.
The game is built around a sort of home video or youTube vibe, relying heavily on grainy, wobbly visuals and enough shaky cam to make even Paul Greengrass think twice.
While at first the effect is quite charming, making the brutal, close-range firefights intense, after a while the novelty wears off and I wanted to be able to run from cover to cover without the camera lurching about like a punch-drunk boxer on speed.
Thankfully the game includes the option to turn the shaky cam off, but it doesn't seem to do much other than lighten the effects a little. Turning it off also exposes one of the main flaws of the game - it looks rubbish.
While I can understand the home video style, using grainy filters to hide poor textures and dodgy animation is hardly professional, and just serves to cheapen the game.
The single player campaign is a blood-drenched adventure that sees career criminals James Seth Lynch and Adam "Kane" Marcus blast their way through a ream of bad guys to escape Shanghai, blowing up anything that gets in their way and generally causing trouble.
The player assumes the role of medicated psychopath Lynch for the majority of the game, with Kane either computer-controlled or being manipulated by another player through online co-op.
The co-op makes the game a fair bit more enjoyable, as teaming up with another psychopathic killer makes everything more fun, as well as making the game easier to play - even on the default settings, the enemy can soak up a hell of a lot of punishment.
Indeed, it's pretty telling how quickly Kane and Lynch can be downed by enemy fire, yet their enemies can take two magazines to the chest and keep on coming.
The variety of weapons on offer is quite spectacular, ranging from pistols to rocket launchers and back again, but you may find the early levels to be a total drag, as Kane and Lynch can't hit the broad side of a barn door.
Even pinpoint shots - using the slightly dodgy aiming system - often totally miss, resulting in a pray-and-spray gun-fest which fails to deliver - although I do wonder if the reduced accuracy was a deliberate choice on the part of the developers, to render the game like a bad take-off of HEAT.
Multiplayer-wise, Dog Days sees the return of seminal criminal-it-up mode Fragile Alliance - which features a team of crooks pulling off a heist, fending off cops and turncoats for a share of the booty.
Also along for the ride are two new modes - Cops and Robbers, which is a basic squad deathmatch, with cops trying to stop the daring robbers at any cost, and my personal favourite, Undercover Cop. This clever mode puts one player in the role of a stool pigeon, working with the crooks as an inside man.
The cops have to stop the heist, but avoid killing the turncoat - without making it obvious who he is. This makes the game unbearably tense, as the crooks all watch each other closely, the cops try not to give the game away and the insider tries off the crooks without blowing his cover - it's an inspired addition, and by far the highlight of the game for me.
Graphically, as mentioned earlier, the game is far from pretty. Rough textures mar the experience, the animation is shoddy, the characters often walk through cover and the game's shaky cam filter is an irritation after a while.
Combine this with a control scheme which takes some getting used to, awful weapon accuracy and a cover system which is just as likely to make Lynch stick to thin air as he is to stick to a wall, and you get a game that, while a positive step for the series, still falls flat on its rear over some simple issues.
Dog Days could have been a great game, but it takes two steps forward for its predecessor's failings, and three back with its own issues. The characters are intriguing, the plot is reasonable and the action intense, but the game is let down by its poor controls, shoddy textures and that damn hyperactive shaky cam. It has a charm of its own, but whether one multiplayer mode can redeem the whole game remains to be seen.
- Undercover Cop is inspired
- Intense, gritty combat
Not so good stuff
- Too much shaky cam
- Poor graphics
- Repetitive missions