Game Review: Kane and Lynch 2 Dog Days
Release: August 17th (America) August 20th (Europe)
Genre: Third person shooter
Developer: IO Interactive
Available Platforms: PS3, PC, Xbox 360
Players: 1-2 offline, 1-10 online
MSRP: $59.99, £39.99
ESRB Rating: M
IO Interactive need to get back into the game. After the embarrassment that was Dead Men, they needed a hole in one. A good game would guarantee them entry into the upper echelon of the gaming industry. There’s good news and there’s bad news in their latest effort – the sequel to Dead Men. It stars the titular sleazy villains who exhibit socio-path qualities and absolute dirt in their activities and language. Dead Men had, for all of its faults, showed of the best human characterization in years. It was brutal, honest and for all of its gameplay shortcomings; it did still deliver a satisfying multiplayer component. After my Demo Impressions of Dog Days, I was excited. IO were gonna pull it out of the bag, show everyone what they were made of. Well… there’s good news and there’s bad news.
The plot and characters are more subdued this time around, which doesn’t help things. The basic story is that Lynch is on the verge of a giant big fat deal where the pay is beyond is wildest dreams. He drafts his old buddy Kane in to give him a hand and a share of the loot. Naturally, nothing goes to plan and soon the dastardly duo have to escape Shanghai or they’ve be for the slaughter. By ‘dastardly’ I don’t mean a hilarious villain or a anti-hero. In a game like Uncharted 2, Nathan Drake exhibits some sociopathic tendencies. He laughs after snapping everyone’s necks and even quips about the dead, and we call him the hero. In Kane and Lynch 2, there is no happy side and no heroes. The game, for all of its faults (which I will explore) does a good job of reinforcing at least one idea: you’re a criminal scumbag.
Gameplay is much of the same except the cover system has thankfully been refined. It’s now just a simple button press, and you can pop out and shoot people at any time. There’s been much work done to standardize it within the genre, so now you can shoot from the hip and do all sorts of normal things. There are no grenades or a melee system, but you can now grab human shields and throw gas canisters at people’s faces. It’s not that much of an improvement, but after crawling through Dead Men with only the characters for company, it’s nice to have something to slightly fall back on. The multiplayer has been expanded as well into three new modes – Fragile Alliance (the old classic), Undercover Cop (Fragile Alliance with a twist) and Cops & Robbers (which pits cops against.. yeah)
Dog Days does a good job of reinforcing some key ideas that were established in Dead Men. Right from the start and throughout the game, Kane will recount the consequences of Dead Men which does slightly reveal into his psyche. The relationship between the two men doesn’t pull any strings and it just doesn’t evolve, but it is consistent to what happened previously. The multiplayer is still innovative and the new modes are very well made, with only a splash of lag spoiling the fun. Fragile Alliance has you put with a group of people against the AI, the job is to secure as much dosh as possible and get to the getaway vehicle. Undercover Cop tasks one of the players with stopping this from happening, because at any point, you can shoot somebody and take all the cash for yourself.
The multiplayer is fine, but what really just drives home how jarring Dog Days can be is just the general aesthetics. I said in my Demo Impressions that I loved it, but over time, it just starts to become intrusive. The gameplay refinements are much needed but the guns and weaponry need upgrading, none of them have characteristics. The game doesn’t have a plot or mission structure, so you’ll end up just repeating the same firefight over and over; it really does feel downright monotonous at times. Also, the multiplayer can be really annoying in that humankind is stupid. I will become the traitor one round and then everybody will seek to destroy me the next, without a chance in hell. There’s an ‘Arcade Mode’ which is basically Fragile Alliance solo, which shows how repetitive all the maps can become. It all becomes a heavy disorientating blur, and not the good kind when it perfectly compliments the characters.
In fact, the only thing Dead Men had going for it was really the characters. They were honest and well written as a great plus. In Dog Days we’re left with barely any scraps to feed off. Gameplay takes centre-fold and it’s not exactly the best choice when the gameplay still needs literal hundreds of refinements. The multiplayer is alright, but otherwise, it is a perfect example of a sequel gone bad. I had hopes for IO finally grasping the concept of a third-person shooter, but it is truly a disaster. The potential of these characters was immense, it wouldn’t even take much effort to show them in the limelight. Dog Days has been sent to die, and if you yourself finish the game then you’ll find the ending is a perfect metaphor for the game – abrupt, without closure and a general disjointed experience.
Nath’s final say: Kane and Lynch 2 Dog Days is an interesting piece of work. The aesthetics of viral video and handycams are all very well done, but they can get very intrusive even in a four hour long campaign. The multiplayer is good, but not worth the price for admission. The characters take a backseat, which is a shame, they really do show criminals more honestly than any other game. The original Dead Men but you in the shoes of a real bad guy, Dog Days just puts you in shoes. I hope IO Interactive get on with Hitman 5 and let Kane and Lynch rest in peace. Guys, c’mon, seriously? Two bad games in a row, you need to do more than pull a rabbit out of a hat now.