Reviews

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days – Review

Release Date: Out now!
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Singleplayer: Yes
Splitscreen: yes, 2 Players.
Multiplayer: 2-12
PEGI: 18+

Lynch isn’t your average lead character.
Long lank hair and a psychopathic personality that is only barely kept in check produce an anti-hero the likes we have rarely seen.
It’s Lynch that takes centre stage with his buddy Kane as they take on what should have been a simple job.
Suffice to say it goes wrong leading to 3 days of hell in Shanghai where the game is set entirely.

It’s a story of betrayal, revenge and  blood that kept me gripped from beginning to end.
It’s by no means a complicated or deep story but the acting that conveyed Lynch was superb. It drew me in and the story often shocked as it feels no compulsion to hold anything back.
In fact it delivers some startling scenes of torture earning its 18 rated ticked.
Due to superb voice acting it’s Lynch that truly captures the show with Kane also being well acted. They’re both bad men without a doubt, but they are strangely compelling characters and I even felt compassion for Lynch.
For all the stories strengths the ending will leave you rather disappointed though it plainly sets up for a sequel.
However the big disappointment is simple. The campaign lasts a measly four hours on Normal mode.

While the story may be good it was further helped by Dog Days unique presentation and visual style.
The entire game is seen through lens of a camcorder, albeit a cheap one, that seems to be held by a third person giving the game a documentary style feeling. Pixelation is high and lens flair will catch you off guard as you run into a brightly lit building. Other artifacts pop up to further enhance the feeling and it moves and shakes as you move.
Up close in combat while using the cover system is where it shines the most. Take cover against a wall and you’ll get a close up view of Lynch as he talks to himself, pumping himself up for the coming fight with words of encouragement such as ” I’m the man, c’mon, I can do this”.
He even looks at the camera on occasion increasing the belief that I was there and was really watching this.
Jump out to shoot and the camera follows, shaking and getting splashes of blood upon its lens and if a bullet hits with enough force it flies to the ground with Lynch.

It’s intense and gritty, and it’s helped by the fact that Dog Days use’s no music. Instead it continues with the camcorder theme by simply using ambient sounds and the loud noise of gunfire. Voices echo and occasionally a snatch of music may be heard from a radio as you pass.
It all helps to draw you in and the sound quality is spot on.

Get past the unique visual style and compelling characters though, and Dog Days begins to show that it’s just another third person shooter.
It uses the now standard cover system and produces a passable attempt, but Gears of War can rest easy in the knowledge that it still has no competition.
It’s a solid system. Tap “A” to take cover and the usual blind-fire and pop-out shooting is all present. Often though I’d find things that simply couldn’t be used for cover whilst others would not let me move along them even thought it was clearly smooth.
The shooting is also passable but far from great. The early guns are so incredibly un-accurate that gunfights turn into a case of luck.
Later on the guns do get better and feel much better to use.
The entire system works, but it still feels dated compared to many of todays third-person cover based games.

The game does also include two player co-op. Of course this can help make any game much more fun, but plenty of glitches will hamper this joy.
In fact many glitches exist throughout the game, some can force you to restart a level whilst others are just irritating.
It’s also advisable to replace your AI partner with a real one if possible. While it’s not the worst AI it’s not helpful either, often failing to kill anything.
For the most part the enemy AI is good though do have the occasional tendency to run out into the open. They also often fail to react to being shot in the leg or arm.

Dog Days multiplayer does help save the day to a certain degree, well, when it works at any rate.
Three modes make up Multiplayer, each centres around the idea of pulling off a heist to steal four million in cash and getting away with it.
For traditionalists there is the Cops and Robbers mode which is the closest you’ll get to a Team Deathmatch.
It’s Fragile Alliance and Undercover Cop that really run the show and provide some tense fights.
In Fragile Alliance its six players versus AI controlled cops and goons as the players attempt to steal four million in cash.
Sounds simple, right? The catch is simple. Anytime after you steal the cash any player can betray another by killing them and stealing their cash. They’ll be marked a traitor for doing so and their Gamertag will show up bright orange with a reward on their head.
It comes down to how greedy they are, those with the most cash can afford better weapons in-between rounds (These weapons do not carry from game to game).
Undercover Cop follows the same principle, except each round one player is randomly assigned as an Undercover Cop. The goal is simple, once the criminals have committed a crime stop them from escaping.
It instills a sense of paranoia. Will I be the first to fall to the cop?. Or will it be one of my “partners” that ends my career as a criminal?
It’s an unmatched feeling and ever more fun is becoming the cop yourself and planning on how to take them out.

It’s still flawed. Becoming a traitor is encouraged as is sticking together. But ultimately becoming a traitor is a nightmare as your Gamertag will show up to everyone and a price will be on your head. Most of the time the entire team will simply turn on you.
It doesn’t help that killing a player can take a stupid amount of bullets, especially with the early guns. It also seems to vary, some times it can take a few rounds, others a full clip.

Finding a game also takes much longer than it should. Mix that with the lack of ability to join a session in progress and no host migrations and you can quickly become annoyed.
All three modes also use the exact same six maps. Each map is only built for four minute rounds as well so it didn’t take long before I was bored of them.

On a nice note the offline players can also take part on Fragile Alliance thanks to Arcade Mode.
It’s essentially the same as Fragile Alliance but played with AI Partners.
The major downfall being that the AI never betrays you taking the element of paranoia out of the equation.
It’s still nice to see the offline players catered for.

Kane & Lynch is a solid and often enjoyable shooter that has many shortcomings.
It drags itself out of scoring a 5 or 6 Average score by presenting a unique visual style, great characters and well told story.
Some will love this unique visual style whist others will hate its jarring sprint motion.
Ultimately its short singleplayer, bugs and multiplayer problems lead to its final score.

The Good:
+ documentary style camera gives a gritty feeling!
+ Lynch makes a surprising lead character.
+ Betraying your entire team and escaping with four million on cash!

The Bad:
– Camara can make you motion sick. Ugh.
– Stupid connection problems!
– Four hours? Really?

Scores:

Graphics: 8
Dark, gritty and camera flare make for a unique and interesting style. Underneath it’s fairly detailed with some rough patches as well.

Sound: 8.5
The lack of music may surprise some but the use of great voice acting and ambient sounds are a winner. Gunfights have a raw feeling to them.

Story: 8
Three days of Hell mixed with betrayals, torture and a lot of fighting make for an interesting story and Lynch is a strangely compelling character.

Gameplay: 6
It’s nothing you’ve that you haven’t seen before. Combat is passable but not spectacular. Multiplayer is fun if you can get a game. And singleplayer is just solid blasting with no change of pace.

Lifespan: 6
Just four hours to complete the singleplayer is disappointing.
The multiplayer may hold your attention for a while though.

Overall: 7
Kane & Lynch is short and fails to deliver superb combat. Instead it provides decent gunplay and a passable cover system.
Ultimately it’s the characters, story and visual style that drag it from a 5 or 6 score to a seven. But if story doesn’t concern you then feel free to take off a point or two.
Kane & Lynch remain great characters, and they remain deserving a better game. But what they have is a decent rental title with some but flawed multiplayer and singleplayer.

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