20th August 2010 - We all know the story; a game comes out, gathers mixed-but-mostly-bad reviews from critics, gets itself a devoted following and then the sequel comes out a few short years later… But this is when anything can happen. Does the sequel keep its following but this time impress the critics of the gaming world? Or does everyone that had hope for the follow up after seeing original potential get miserably disappointed? It’s anyone’s bet before-hand, but now that Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is out there in the harsh and unforgiving world, I bring to you AAG’s definitive review on just what this sequel has to offer you…
Taking side to the often overlooked and unpopulated genre of a Third-Person Shooter, Kane and Lynch 2 immediately stands out from the crowd. And that’s before we take a look at the actual game itself. If you had played the first game and actually enjoyed it as a lot of people didn’t, you would know and admire the relationship our two protagonists have with one another. With a stretched love/hate thing going on, both Kane and Lynch are two completely different but equally desperate loners who have been handed some of the worst luck most of their lives. Catch here is, since the ending of the first game, Lynch has moved up in the world and is actually doing good for himself, while Kane has some major issues back home that need sorting out. Back home meaning America of course, as Dog Days is set completely in the sprawling city of Shanghai, now Lynch’s home with his loving girlfriend Xiu.
But things go from bad to worse when Kane pays a visit to his old friend Lynch, to help he and his boss with an arms deal - of which Kane continuously stresses the importance of. Why he does this is a constant of off topic questions which never really get answered. In fact, the game is full of unanswered questions that really build the intensity of the characters personalities and also lay down further sequel possibilities galore - which I must say I would gladly invest in. It's good to see a high-octane action game such as this manage to create two wonderful characters that you really feel for and care about. It’s a rare commodity in this genre, and one that you certainly shouldn’t overlook.
Pro Tip: Early in the game, look out for the Video Games shop off the main road. You may see some of IO Interactive’s earlier titles in the shelves…
Its called Kane AND Lynch for a reason…
And that reason is, the game is perfect for co-operative play! Offline or Online, Dog Days is a wonderful co-op game. With the intense action and great design, Dog Days offers some great multilayer experiences for you and a friend. While its possible to play the entire game single-player, to get the most of it, you really have to have a friend playing along side you.
But onto the action itself, Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days does deliver the goods. Most of the games levels are very well designed and offer a lot of detail in the rich environments, and this is reflected in the extreme nature of the gunplay. Always outnumbered, and usually outgunned, Kane and Lynch rely on copious amounts of ammunition and one hell of a lot of cover, seeing as they die faster than a Call of Duty player in Valhalla. This leads us to the games generic cover system, but while it may be generic, it lends itself very well to the tight streets of the Shanghai underworld. Top it up with some destructible environments, a lot of explosive canisters and some very realistic atmosphere and Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is one of 2010’s best shooting experiences… for a little while at least.
Dog Days most disappointing aspects come from the games longevity. By this i'm not just talking about the games length either. But while we’re on the subject, Dog Days is perhaps one of the shortest action experiences I’ve played this generation that is actually quality also. I completely my first playthrough in roughly 3-4 hours in one sitting on the regular difficulty. And if that’s not a tad too short for my liking, I don’t know what is. As well as being so short though, towards the end of Dog Days you are thrown into missions similar to the last part of the first game; stupid and boring - they take away the realism and atmosphere of the earlier stages and simply pit you against tons of enemies that take away from the actual shooting gameplay as well, seeing as you simply have to find good cover and shoot shoot shoot, till there’s nothing left to shoot at! It’s a shame really, seeing as the game gets off to such a good start.
There is no I in TEAM… but there is an I in TRAITOR!
While these two phrases are some of the witty Achievement names in the game, it also describes the games main focus of Competitive Multiplayer perfectly. With a few very well designed and unique multiplayer modes, Dog Days lets player decide who they want to trust and betray with some of the best Cops and Robbers type gameplay the gaming world has ever seen.. Actually, I don’t think I can really recall any of types of gameplay like this. You can choose to work with or against your own team mates to succeed the heist and escape the police, but you really have to beware of any team mates that may turn on you without warning to get away with more money. Mix in some other, albeit less important game types, and this general idea is turned upside down in all sorts of ways. It’s a great change to the all-too-often Deathmatch and Objective game types populating Online Shooters, and its fun enough to last till you can get your hands on Halo: Reach, which is more than I can say for a lot of other multiplayer games.
Also available is the Arcade Mode, which is the previously mentioned Fragile Alliance mode designed for single player usage, and is surprisingly quite fun and engaging. Which is great for those of you without online capabilities and who didn’t get satisfied from the very short campaign.
To try to make itself different from the rest, Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days has been given the grain-film treatment, only a little more intense this time. The camera work is as if there is a little Chinese Man (because they’re in China, okay!) running around behind the player filming it. Its shaky (you can turn that off), grainy, and acts like a real camera lens when there are bright lights and wet weather. Its part of the atmospheric environment I mentioned before, and really adds some light to the overall package of the game. Given it blurs out all the nudie bits and even headshots and dead dogs, it’s a wonder that the game is still even an MA rating. Geez, I would have hated to see what our Australian sensors had to say if it didn’t do this!
Pro Tip: Did you know Kane and Lynch is being made into a high-profile film? That’s right; Bruce Willis and Jamie Fox are attached to play Kane and Lynch respectively in the film due to be out in 2011 from the director of last years Law Abiding Citizen.
But the grainy film effect has another dark secret, and some would suggest its only reason; it attempts to cover up the somewhat bland and expressionless animation of the games sometimes bad character models and animation. See how I used the word attempt there? That’s because it is still quite obvious to the keen eye that this game still does have some pretty dated graphics, apart from the very detailed levels and environment. That’s why its best to keep your attention pinned on the intense action going on around you.
Oh boy, does Dog Days really make good use of a decent surround sound setup! More than most games, the complete surrounding effects, both minimal and major, really shine in this title. As you get into firefights and your cover gets shot to pieces, the environment becomes damaged and everything is in general chaos, the sounds effects are amazing! It sounds like a high quality film, and the voice acting reflects this; both Kane and Lynch, and the handful of other main characters are all voiced very well, with true emotion to their voices and characters. All the crazy sound effects and atmospheric subtleties also work well with aforementioned film style, and when things get a bit too hectic result in ringing, static and other novelties which all work together quite nicely.
As I said in the Gameplay section, Dog Days can be beaten very quickly with minimal effort, and that is a real shame and definitely my most disappointing factor with the overall game. But if you don’t mind a bit of co-op replayability then you will find some great value in trying to best the games harder difficulties with a friend in the campaign. And that aside, you can always climb leaderboards and best yourself in the titles Arcade Mode, seemingly designed to give those without LIVE connection a taste of the great multiplayer modes. And that’s when we get to the multiplayer! Such a gem of game design deserves to be populated nicely and so should see some great matches and who knows, maybe you’ll make some friends in the process… just be careful who you trust in this game of wits and paronia that would be the end of you. All you have to do is jump online!
All up, Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days isn’t something of a masterpiece. It isn’t Game of the Year material. And it wont get cult status. But it does provide some of the years best action gameplay and two of this generations most underappreciated and greatest characters; the titular Kane and Lynch. With some great single, co-op and multiplayer modes, this is one package that is totally worth the value of its price tag as long as you have some buddies to play with online, as the short campaign won't satisfy many needs.
AAG SCORE: 8/10
+ Great narrative with some wonderful characters
+ Top-tier action gameplay and atmosphere
+ Enjoyable and unique multiplayer modes
- Campaign is too short
- End missions lose Dog Days atmospheric goodness
- Not much replay value without a co-op partner
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott