Published on September 12th, 2010 | by prime0
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days – Review
Summary: To ignore Kane & Lynch would be criminal
There’s a moment halfway through Kane & Lynch 2’s four hour campaign that will stick in the minds of many as one of the most horrifically gruesome scenes ever witnessed in a videogame. It’s not only spectacularly gory, but also uncharacteristically poignant, as the player is asked to empathize with the game’s crazed anti-heroes.
To explain why would spoil much of the story behind Dog Days’ ‘arms deal gone wrong’ premise, but the reason for mentioning it here extends far beyond the initial shock factor. It’s a monumental turning point in the game. Before it, Kane & Lynch 2 is a frantic and wonderfully intense co-op crime shooter, with IO using the game’s original documentary-alike art style fantastically well to engage the player in the turf war breaking out among Shanghai’s gritty backstreets and office blocks.
It’s everything that the original game was meant to be, a spectacular crime thriller with some fantastic characterization, moments of unease and an entire cast of brilliant love-to-hate villains – lead characters included. It’s laced with some marvelous ideas and set-pieces throughout – a shoot- out on a Shanghai highway being one of the game’s many highlights, an urgent chase through a busy market place another, with IO putting a tremendous amount of thought into the use of the visual style to put across the feeling of desperation and the struggle for survival perfectly.
But beyond the halfway mark, IO seem to struggle for innovation, quickly sending Dog Days into a generic run-and-gunner and forcing the player through every clichéd shooter environment in the book. Docklands, train yards, even claustrophobically tight underground corridors, they’re all here, alongside enemies that gradually increase in numbers and hit points, rather than putting up a better fight.
So it peaks too soon then, which is a great shame for any game, let alone one with such a short campaign. But besides that, Dog Days ticks all the boxes you could possibly hope from a Kane & Lynch sequel.
The shooting mechanics have been improved tenfold with each weapon behaving exactly as you’d expect, the graphics are now par with other titles in the genre, while the new cover system is a successful replication of Gears of War’s. The script, too – though still bursting with mum-offending expletives – can be genuinely entertaining; Lynch turning a Shanghai street into a battleground over ‘a principle’ reinforcing his maniacal characteristics. More importantly, alongside the docu-film style, the constant back and forth between the two characters is successful as a tool to make you engage with the characters. When that halfway point rolls around, it has far more of an effect on you than you might otherwise expect.
The original game’s highlight, multiplayer mode Fragile Alliance, has been given a once-over here too, now outfitted with a single-player alternative for solo players and some fantastic new modes to inspire longevity – Undercover Cop is our favorite, keeping us constantly looking over our shoulder while springing the heist.
So, Dog Days is a stunning return to form for IO, who have delivered a surprisingly solid and fantastically atmospheric crime shooter, and their best work since Hitman: Blood Money. If you thought the franchise had died with the first game, think again, as to ignore Kane & Lynch 2 would be criminal.