Remember how, in Kane and Lynch: Dead Men, the ugly looking engine complimented the absolute absurdly psychotic protagonists? It was one of the few things the game had going for it. Now, IO Interactive returns to take this ugly looking engine and spin it on its toes. Kane and Lynch 2 delivers one of most revoltingly beautiful raw inertia experiences and completely delivers on its predecessors failings. To say this is an improvement would be an understatement. Dog Days already looks like a contender for one of the most breakthrough experiences of the year.
Kane and Lynch have been broken apart for three years, with Lynch now living as much of a life he can in Shanghai, even getting a wife. When Kane enters back into the scene, Lynch and him are re-united against the usual proper authorities. Lynch attempts to make a big fat deal which would make them big fat rich, but obviously, everything goes pear shaped. Out of their minds and out of their heads (as usual), they are forced to fight back through Shanghai and walk along a long road. It’s a story with very few details, at the moment, and the demo doesn’t exactly release the hounds.
Remember how I said a while back that presentation style should always compliment the experience? Crackdown’s cell-shaded comic book style made the player feel like a superhero. Team Fortress 2 juxtaposes against this bright, vibrant setting with gushes of blood and gibs. Even The Saboteur manages to pull off some visual brilliance, symbolizing the fear of the Nazi empire with a black and white aesthetic, and alerting the player he is turning back the tide by turning the world colourful. Kane and Lynch 2 borrows heavily from this co-operation between gameplay and aesthetics, and it’s an experience like no other.
The visuals are largely inspired by user-generated video. The loading screens are in fact a near complete rip-off of YouTube videos, even having “Buffering” instead of “Loading”. The gameplay itself is punctured by an ugly affair with a grain effect and pixelation whenever extreme violence is displayed. When sprinting, the game shifts to nauseating shaky-cam, similar to The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. This all adds beautifully to the gameplay side of things, which is this monstrous carnivorous beast that portrays psychopaths as psychopaths. It’s not heroes who act like psychos (Nathan Drake for instance) it’s psychos being psychos.
One of the main complaints of Kane and Lynch: Dead Men was that it just didn’t work. Aiming was a mess, guns didn’t have a feel at all and it was generally just a broken machine. Dog Days beats the first title to death and then proceeds to throw its corpse down a river and not even give it a proper memorial. The aiming has been refined, guns now feel like… guns and everything is just a state of well-made goodness. Instead of being revived by your partner (as was the case in the first game), you are flung to the floor and forced to get up. It adds to this lone men attitude, and the gritty realism of the urban battlefield.
On the multiplayer side of things, it is a complete shake-up of the innovation that was introduced in Dead Men. Fragile Alliance is now massively fun and the plethora of emergent gameplay just adds to the whole of the experience. The objective of Fragile Alliance is to kill some goons, steal some cash and then escape the police to a getaway vehicle in under four minutes. It’s this tight window of opportunity that funnels every player to explore every outcome. You can just shoot someone, take their money, and get away yourself or you can act as one team.
Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is shaping up to be an utter refinement of Dead Men. IO Interactive are in my hearts as one of the few developers that constantly surprise me. Dead Men was disappointment, a possible embarrassment to the years of hardship that the company had pumped into its library of high-quality products. Obviously, something must have woken them up and now Dog Days is the real deal. The real gritty grit of the third-person shooter genre and although it may look ugly, it has a heart of solid gameplay gold underneath.