Review: Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is the follow up to 2007's Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, which was an alright game with a gripping story and certain potential. While a sequel wasn't exactly necessary, it did stand to improve on a very intriguing multiplayer component. Has it succeeded?
- Worth The Time?No, not really.
- Things LovedThe concepts of the multiplayer modes.
- Things HatedThe average graphics and badly executed visual style, the single-player, repetitiveness, boring gameplay, the lack of characterisation with Kane and Lynch.
- RecommendationThere is honestly not much reason to purchase or play this game unless the multiplayer concepts appeal to you. But the multiplayer didn't get very near to what it could have been, so rather avoid this.
- Name: Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
- Genre: Third Person Shooter
- Players: 1-2
- Multiplayer: Online Co-Op (2 players), Online (Up to 12 players)
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: IO Interactive, Nixxes Software (PC version)
- Publisher: Eidos Interactive
- Price: R643-699 (PS3, 360), R368-399
- Reviewed On: PS3
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, released back in November 2007, is definitely a notorious game. After lots of controversy surrounding it – most notably with the story of a GameSpot reviewer getting fired because his negative review of the game upset Eidos and the site’s marketing department – and average ratings from critics, it’s quite surprising to see a sequel emerge without much fuss. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is IO Interactive’s second attempt at glorifying its two crazy criminal bastards, and the only question now is whether or not they were successful in this. Short answer? No. If you want the longer version, you’ll have to read on.
This time around, you’ll take control of James Seth Lynch for the majority of the game. If you play co-op, your mate will play as Kane. Taking place after the events of the first game, Dog Days sees Lynch starting a new life in Shangai, seemingly having moved past his mental problems and gotten himself a girlfriend named Xiu. However, his days of street activity are far from behind him, as he’s involved with a crime organisation run by a man called Glazer. When Glazer informs Lynch of a high paying smuggling operation, Lynch calls in his old friend Kane for a split in the deal that would set them both for life, and help Kane’s daughter, Jenny. As expected, however, the deal doesn’t go as smoothly as planned, and Kane and Lynch soon find themselves on the run from one of Shanghai’s most powerful and brutal men.
The story, for the most part, keeps itself afloat for the duration of the game. However, what sets it back completely is the fact that it’s uninspired and falls flat compared to the first game. The greatest reason for this is that, in Dead Men, both Kane and Lynch were amazingly characterised and provided an interesting premise to what was already an intriguing story – but in Dog Days, all of that is lost. Their identities, depth and unique traits are just not present, and they’ve both been reduced to being two unlikeable guys who constantly scream profanities. Even worse, there is just no room for the characters to actually feature as something more than simply being empty vessels with guns due to the incredibly short length of the single-player, which clocks in at around seven hours or less. Dog Days simply has nothing to compel the player to continue, and the story just seems like an excuse to pick up a gun and repeatedly shoot things rather than drive the player forward towards something significant. Not every game needs a good story, or even one at all, but to Kane & Lynch it’s an important factor and Dog Days just can’t match up to its predecessor.
After the loss of the story and characters, one would hope Dog Days improved on its predecessor with regards to gameplay. Sadly, this isn’t the case, as Dog Days has retained basically all gameplay flaws from Dead Men, and in some areas things have somehow even managed to get a bit worse. Before all the negativity begins, the one positive point to mention is that shooting has improved. Aiming is easier and guns handle better, and this time around you can actually hit things. However, that’s nullified by the fact that enemies, even the grunts, can take more bullets than you can, the cover system is ridiculously broken and the game itself is just a joke compared to other cover-based shooters. It’s as though it’s purposely trying to set itself as an example of how not to create games in this genre.
With the cover system, getting into cover is handled well, but the problem comes in once you’re there. For the majority of the game, you’ll find yourself up against armies of enemies that greatly outnumber and outgun you, which results in you spending most of your time stuck behind a wall. Popping out is a fast way to get hammered with bullets from all directions, and this isn’t helped by the fact that enemies can somehow still hit you behind solid cover or ignore it altogether and run straight up to you to finish you off. Basically, the game amounts to a long stream of battles like these, where you’re pinned behind cover slowly picking off enemies and waiting for your health to regenerate. Then there’s the “down but not dead” gameplay feature, where if you get hit enough times you’ll get knocked to the ground, almost like the “Last Stand” perk in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and then you’ll get to shoot your attackers before you get back to your feet. It’s just annoying, especially when considering the amount of enemies you face at any one point.
Simply put, the game is just made up of a long line of laborious shoot-outs that do little to entertain or impress the player. At least in Dead Men there were some really interesting and exciting mission concepts, such as the prison break and bank robbery. While they may not have been executed all too well because of the flawed gameplay, they certainly added variety, excitement and unpredictability to the game. In Dog Days, you can just expect the same repetitive gun fights in similar-looking environments. Don’t expect to find anything else varied or different to come in between you and these boring gameplay sections – other than death. For a game released in today’s times, Dog Days does little to set itself apart from the incredibly high standard of shooters today, is content with being behind the times and places itself with the lowly, easily dismissible action games. Not even co-op can improve the experience much, as all it means is less to see on your screen and someone else to suffer with you.
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days chose an interesting approach with regards to its visuals. The game looks as though it’s an online video, with the camera shaking around as though someone is holding it by hand, and the graphics are full of visual distortions and flashy effects. To further add to the feel of it, excessive gore and nudity are given mosiac censorship, which means they’re blurred out. One would think this is an interesting style for the visuals if it were expressed in words, but Dog Days goes on to execute it quite badly. Firstly, while sprinting especially, the camera shakes so violently that I actually found myself getting nauseous, and I have no problem with motion sickness at all. Fortunately, you’re able to turn this off in the options menu. However, the visual distortion doesn’t let you off the hook so easily, and after hours of having your eyes glued to the screen, your eyes will most likely begin to feel it, and you’ll probably find yourself getting a headache. That to me sounds like a clear sign that the game does not want you to play it for long – or at all. Overall, the graphics are just sub par, with low detail models and environments and rather awkward animations.
Dog Days has a variety of multiplayer modes, and while they’re probably the only reason to want to play this game, they can’t make it worth a great amount of interest. Firstly, there is co-op through split-screen and online, but this doesn’t amount to much since it’s the single-player campaign you’ll be playing. Online, there are three modes, namely Fragile Alliance, Undercover Cop and Cops & Robbers. Fragile Alliance has you team up with a bunch of robbers to get in, take as much money as you can and then get out – all in four minutes. The big catch is that any player can betray another once the money-taking begins, gaining more cash for themselves, and any robber killed respawns as a cop to have his vengeance. Traitors get it tough, as your former friends, the respawned player cops and enemy AI will all be after you, so it might be better to work together for as long as possible. Undercover Cop follows the same concept, except one player is randomly assigned to be undercover amongst the thieves, and has to stop the other players before they get away with the cash. Cops & Robbers is exactly as it sounds, with players being divided onto either team, and the cops have to stop the robbers from escaping with the money. Arcade is simply the online mode with bots.
The multiplayer modes are very interesting concepts and are perhaps what would entice you to want to play this game. However, they’re very much held back by the flawed and boring gameplay, and the ultimate reality is that after a couple of rounds you’ll either be tired of the gameplay or the modes will just get old. The only thing left to mention is that you are able to buy better weapons at the end of reach round using cash you’ve earned while playing, but this doesn’t make much of an impact. Had this been a far better game, these modes might just have made for an absolute blast online. In its current state, you might find yourself having some fun with the multiplayer, but it fails to last.
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days lets go of the promise Dead Men had, casts away what precious little good it contained and replaced it all with something that just shouldn’t be considered for purchase. A flat out redundant shooter that falls at the face of greater competition, and simply offers the bare minimal. With Dog Days, the franchise has taken a fraction of a step forward, and then erased it with a number of steps backward, falling into a black hole.