Having never played Kane and Lynch: Dead Men, Dog Days was an interesting introduction to “gaming’s two most notorious criminals“. The game’s multiplayer demo showed a lot of promise and I was quite looking forward to trying the full game. What I found was not at all what I was expecting.
You spend the majority of the game playing as James Seth Lynch, who works for a crime organization in Shanghai led by a British man known as Glazer and lives with his girlfriend, Xiu. The game begins with Lynch picking up his old friend, Adam ‘Kane’ Marcus, from the airport to work on a high paying job. Lynch brings Kane along to some small job he has to do on his way to Kane’s hotel and after that falls through the duo find themselves being hunted by Chinese police and mafia throughout the rest of the game.
The campaign is extremely short, easily knocked out in a few hours, but for the most part I was hardly asking for it to keep going. Lynch, described best as a fat, balding psychopath spends a lot of the game rambling to himself and despite his physical appearance, is very athletically capable. Kane and Lynch’s tale takes place over ten linear levels, but despite the game being completely linear, with the exclusion of video game features such as way-points, part of IO’s attempts to “deliver a fresh perspective to the words ‘intensity’ and ‘realism’“, I found myself running around the walls of rooms looking for where I was meant to be going more then once. Although I did enjoy immersing myself into Lynch’s character when it suited me, such as when fighting off enemies in busy streets choosing not to be discriminatory on targets.
The game is very insistent on making you use it’s cover system, with enemies killing you quite easily, and instantly if they get a lucky head shot. The major problem I faced with this was the number of times I walked around a corner only to be killed in one shot. If I’m only living this character for three hours, I don’t want to spend half of that stopping at every corner to check for a guy sitting there with a shotgun. You play in the third person almost directly above Lynch’s shoulder, and combined with a walking style I would consider as much fun as Grand Theft Auto IV‘s, I almost gave up on the game within the first three minutes.
Other than the ninth level of the game, I can honestly say I didn’t enjoy much of the Kane and Lynch 2: Dead Men campaign but what I liked least was the game’s new visual style, supposedly based on documentaries and user generated content. As far as I can tell this style means that all the lights blur vertically and people should all be a little square. Once you go online it gets worse, where a purple tinge will sometimes cover the screen. Whilst this does fit with the psychosis angle that the game is supposed to take, it removed much more than it gave to the game.
The game has clearly been designed to be played in cooperative mode with the standard cooperative tasks. Such as opening a heavy gate together or giving your team mate a boost up a wall but it’s never used to separate the two characters paths so that each player can serve a separate purpose, it’s only used to prevent characters from advancing without their team mate. After completing the campaign in solo, I found myself with still enough motivation to try again in split screen. However I feel the game isn’t properly designed to be played in cooperative, as it has the same number of enemies and ammo/weapon drops as in solo. It was far more enjoyable alone.
The online multi-player component of the game is where the game redeems itself somewhat. “Fragile Alliance”, the series’ main game type involves a team of players collecting as much money as possible and taking it to an extraction point without getting killed by police or their team mates. “Undercover Cop” is the same but one of the players is given the separate goal of preventing the team from escaping with their money. “Cops and Robbers” operates in alternating rounds where a team will play as police while the other team plays as criminals as usual. The interesting strategies that you find yourself following create the real fun in the game. Having to make the decision whether to work with your team mates to get whatever money you managed to grab to the extraction point or killing your team members and taking their money, knowing that they’ll re-spawn as a cop and that you’ll have to fight your way to extraction without them.
Overall, Kane and Lynch 2 was enjoyable but you could do much better with your time. The multi-player is enjoyable but I could imagine that with the limited range of included maps (Only six without DLC) you could quickly tire of being assassinated by your own team just because you managed to grab a big loot early on. If you had an empty afternoon and nothing else to play then I wouldn’t dissuade you from doing an easy run through of the campaign but maybe that’s because I actually dislike you and want you to experience my pain.
Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days
The Good –
- Different and Interesting Multi-player modes .
- Easy to knock out campaign in an afternoon.
- Offers split-screen and online cooperative campaign.
The Bad –
- Extremely short.
- Irritating art style.
- Uncompelling story and game-play.