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This is not a nice game… I mean that both literally and figuratively speaking. This game is not nice, sort of like a haggard wife… you know, the wife that is so hot that she just turns into a complete bitch when you are behind the curtain, away from public eye? That pretty well sums up what I want to say about Kane and Lynch. They look so great… it looks completely wild, it looks like a sexy momma… but when you get to it, it just—it just wants to make you make your own sandwich, this can be very disheartening if you want to kick ass in a good game or just want to eat a delicious sandwich.
Let’s start off simply and go with the story since it’s so short, it kind of looks drab when placed beside a midget… I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say anything mean about midgets; in-fact I love midgets, like cuddly wuddly Ewoks and bears—OK, I’m sorry for calling you an Ewok… but back to the point. It’s a very simple story that deals with a basic plot of betrayal after betrayal after betrayal because of one stupid mistake involving Kane and some chick daughter of some higher dude. Then all of a sudden, Lynch’s fiancé gets kidnapped and gets all sad, then shit happens and there they are in this world… what a life Lynch lives through, aye?
It all felt like a very pathetic excuse for a Reservoir Dogs knock-off set in Shanghai and it falls flat on its face when you take it under all consideration. The one thing I had to applaud when I played through the game was the fact that you could be Lynch. In the first one, I thought Kane was a tad bit whiny—he lost his daughter I know, but does he need to mop about it in the midst of heated battle?—when your Lynch, you just feel like badass. I mean… look at him! He has a rocking goatee and a smiling angry mug, how could you not like that? Well, the dreaded average journey was cut to about four hours… so in a way I was happy, and very unhappy because you couldn’t be Lynch no more. Just an ugly segway here I know, but bear with me for a bit… there is a singleplayer variant called Arcade, playing through a level and survive for many rounds that become increasingly difficult… doesn’t that remind you of thousands of other games out there just like this? How average.
The environments that the story takes place in feels… well hell, like China. It’s dirty, it’s muggy… it’s seedy, it’s bright, it’s crowded, it’s polluted… it feels like China alright. I mean, I could feel the sweat trickling down my spine when I walked the streets in the nude (yes, one level involves you and Kane running the city naked… mmm, muscular buttocks), I could feel a seedy little hangout of marketing cheap Asian goods marring around the corner, I could feel the Yakuza starring me down whilst I trashed their little apartment block looking for some guy named Glazer (I want a donut now…). Neon lights, smoky horizons, cruddy housing developments and great sense of scenery bring this gritty bad shooter to life before your eyes… really is a scenic beauty if you ever wanted to see Shanghai in the safety of your own home.
Let’s talk about the sound in the game… well, it’s fantastic, I mean I couldn’t have asked for anything bet—oh who am I kidding? It’s really, really, really average at best. It puts the av in average, I mean I can’t think of how average this game is when it comes to hearing other things. it looks fantastic… but the game sounds like, just like everything else. It sounds like… well that game, and that game, and that game… IT SOUNDS LIKE ANY OTHER GAME! Guns sound like any average shooter with guns (wimpy and pathetic when compared to their gameplay counterpart), voice acting is spotty if not just very average (nothing remarkable and gets the job done, albeit very mediocrely), ambient tracks and city life sound very… average when compared to games of the same archetype, environmental wise. It’s just an average sounding game… how else do I put it?
Now what’s with the game play I should say? I mean my god this game is not nice and it plays mediocrely. This is a boring Haggard Wife who isn’t wild in bed… I mean, you got some cover mechanics… you got a gun, you got controls, you got a guy to shoot, shoot him. That’s pretty much all it boils down to in the singleplayer campaign and it feels very… average. This feels like a clone of another third-person shooter, just switching one canvas for another for better scenic view seems like the appropriate description for this whole shenanigan. I mean there isn’t much apart from co-op to set it apart, but even then it plays like a standard third person shooter. Cover mechanics are spotty if not Gears of War-esque, shooting is fine if not very average. Level design is very linear, if not boring—I mean, if you wanted to, you could draw a straight line through the level design to point out how simple the level design feels. It feels too contrived and too generic—if they’d open the world up a bit more, it would probably be a tad bit more interesting to say the least.
This game plays very averagely… even the guns are average when you compare it to other modern shooters of this archetype. I mean, you have Uzi’s, Skorpion’s, AK-74S, weird shotgun, cool shotgun, small pistol, big pistol, and you have throwable things such as… fire extinguishers and other items to replace the grenades (well, in a way at least). On the controller, the game felt very slow when I started to move around the streets all covered in blood, in the nude. When I started aiming my rifle… the turning speed and the jerky right stick made the transition feel like a stock animation (terrible 2D animation in other words) in the fluid action of the street to street fighting you’ll find yourself in at all times. The AI can be a handful at times… but with that being said, they do flank, they do take cover… but the same can’t be said when it comes to you taking the flanking tactic in your own hands—they tend to eat lead, and lots of it before dying by the hands of lead poisoning…
This game is weird when it comes to killing those out there. Pistols take more than three shots to the chest to kill, one to the head… shotguns seem one too close a spread to be that accurate, sub-machine guns tend to spray without results and the rifles have far too much recoil to be considered even for a holding. I mean, this game is weird when it comes to killing people—the weapons all feel good, but all feel very inaccurate and are much too weak to even put a man down for good… which is tough considering how many come at you in sequences such as the “garage” during the second level of the game. If you do manage to hit someone with your gun, they don’t tend to drop, instead opt for getting back up in last stand and right back into cover to make your day hell. Thankfully you can do the same thing assuming you are a ways away from your enemy, which is sort of cheap considering you don’t need Kane to revive you—just get into cover and plop yourself back there to win the day again.
You can’t find a more standard third-person with average shooting mechanics in any game aside from this. I mean, you press in on the left trigger to aim the gun and then you shoot… what else? There were several problems with this design philosophy however… such simplicity led to weird handling characteristics for each and every weapon in the game. At longer ranges, the pistol tended to be a bit more accurate than the rifle (the AK had a tendency to kick so high up on burst fire), shotguns were much better suited to medium range combat than sub-machine guns, the list could go on and on… so when you think about it all, the gameplay didn’t much change apart from the first game, and as a result you are left with a very average shooter with an average story, with average sound, and now average mechanics… this game is not nice and is very average. If it’s any constellation, this game has a health regeneration system that is wholly origina—OH GOD DAMMIT!
Graphics are maybe where this game may pick up on some points… this game looks decent to say the least, but this is led to me being lenient on the fact of the special filtering they used to give this game its more visceral feel to combat. They say gritty… I say really fascinating, if not nauseating to some out there (not me, I can tell you) as the camera just jitters like a madman when the combat starts to role. The nasty cutting, the weird lighting artifacts and unclear filters give a sense of hecticity and frantic nature of the gritty fighting itself. The only problem I had with the game, apart from its averageness, is this weird deadly glitch I found when I started getting headshot after headshot. Bear in mind, this problem may not affect everyone around… but this problem got to me and every time I shot some dude in the head (may have something to do with the blur affect, or censoring in the game to give the effect of user generated content being dished out during this event) the game would lock up for a good few seconds before you would resume play… it’s really annoying and it starts after a few hours of playing, so beware!
Finally… multiplayer, somewhere this game can pick up some more steam. You have a couple modes, Heist which comes back from the original game where it tests the trust of everyone on your team. You steal money from a selected area, then you try to make it out with the most money by either betraying the others or working together to get out unscathed. Cops and Robbers where both teams are trying to get more money than the other team by again, stealing. Then there is my favourite… Undercover Cop. This mode works better than Heist due to there being obvious end betrayal, instead you are left wondering to yourself… who is the undercover cop. The rest of the team are left vulnerable as the undercover cop has to take them out one by one during the duration of the whole match. This can be very annoying as some of the games I’ve played, the cop ended up killing us all at the end—but I was always on edge during the whole game, and that was fun.
Heist though… it still suffers from the original games problems—if you played the original, you know that it was plagued by repetition on each level. In other words, cop spawn points were obvious if you played a fair bit, and being there are only six maps in this full priced game doesn’t help that much. Another problem is that the betrayers often don’t pick a fascinating place to betray us… they just wait till we are all at the van area then kill us, happens most of the time because it’s hard to take on cops alone… that and you are a highlighted foe when you do such a betrayal. So if you plan to play multiplayer, keep to the back less your playing undercover cop… you don’t want to end up a lampshade in some guys creepy apartment… do you? Hey, a penguin.
So in the end… Kane and Lynch 2 looked promising at first, but this game is just so damn average in the long run. There are a couple interesting tricks up its sleeve be it the interesting sense of visual style, the conceptual multiplayer which works to a certain degree, and the change in scenery and perspective in this “harrowing” tale of betrayal after betrayal after betrayal. But when you take it all in and look at the game as a whole… it’s short and stubby like the midget I mentioned earlier (sorry if you happen to be of the dwarf sizes), it plays averagely, it sounds average, it looks average if you take away the filters. Looks phenomenal on paper, but just, again, complete bitch behind the curtain. This game forces me to find things to like about it, and it came in dribs and drabs… so here’s a 6.5 for the trip hope, god I got to shower the sweat off me.
It’s a classic story: The good hearted criminals who are looking for that last big score so they can ride off into the sunset comfortably and with a pretty lady in tow. Unfortunately, when you’re hired thugs Kane and Lynch, these situations usually end up going awry before they even get started.
Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days sees our anti-heroes brought together again a few years after the end of the first game. Lynch has fallen into a nice situation as an enforcer for the number two crime lord in Shanghai and has been tasked with a gun running deal that will allow him to walk away from the business for good with his new lady friend Xiu. It’s a situation that is too good to be true and so he reaches out to his old friend Kane in the hopes of getting him a cut of the good life, especially since things have been a little rougher on Kane since last we saw him.
Kane’s daughter, Jenny, who miraculously survived the events around the first game’s ending, refuses to talk to her father, still blaming him for the death of her mother. Kane isn’t thrilled about teaming up with the still psychotic and pill dependant Lynch, but hopes that this last huge score will help him and his daughter make amends. Or at the very least, allow him to help Jenny achieve a semblance of a normal life from here on out.
As soon as Kane lands in Shanghai and is met by Lynch, you can just feel things are going to turn sour. Lynch informs Kane that he has to rough up a small-time hood with a big mouth before escorting him to his hotel and invites him along for the ride on what serves as the obligatory tutorial mission. As soon as Lynch (who you control this go around, instead of Kane like in the first game) kicks down the door, you know there is more going on than was originally alluded to as the small-time hood, who is in the middle of…umm…relations…with his girlfriend at the time, runs out the backdoor, firing a blind hail of bullets towards Kane and Lynch. The two quickly chase him down, while teaching you the basic controls along the way, and corner the hood and the half-naked woman in a dead end alley.
In the heat of the moment, Kane shoots the girl, who the hood was using like a shield, and the hood in turn cuts his own throat. As Lynch now recognizes the woman who Kane shot as the daughter of Shanghai’s largest crime lord, the two soon realize this has now become a mission of pure survival as there will be a bounty on both their heads that would put their arms deal profit to shame.
The most unique aspect of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days has to be the “real” cam the game features. I’m sure you’ve seen the ads everywherewith sayings like “Real is blood in your teeth”, etc. and then you see our two anti-heroes with Lynch showing a blood-stained grin. The entire reason for this was the new camera system for the game where it is as if a third person was following Kane and Lynch and documenting it with a handy cam. The hope was to make you feel as if you were watching amateur video on YouTube or the nightly news instead of something dreamed up on a Hollywood sound stage. They even go as far as to have the faces of those you beat extra brutally blurred out and to have the sound on the camera go in and out depending on where shots are coming from and who is yelling.
It was a novel idea at first, but after playing through an entire campaign and having the multiplayer locked into that feature as well, I think I actually felt nauseous from motion sickness for the first time in my gaming life. Add in the annoying glare from lights and how it gave the developers the chance to be a little more lazy when it came to environmental details and I appreciate the attempt at something new, but the “real” cam was more irritating that immersive.
Aside from the camera, the game is your standard third-person shooter and doesn’t blow you away with anything in particular. The “sticky” cover used in the first game has been replaced with your standard button prompt cover tactics as seen in Gears of War or Uncharted and you see a typical array of weaponry from pistols to machine guns. The game is also chock full of glitches in both single player and multiplayer. Although I admit I’ve never laughed so hard on headset until I saw a few of the awkward positions my teammates were left in after some of those glitches.
The plot is also very generic and you have a hard time relating to the characters as it seems they bring it all on themselves just to try to give you a more difficult game experience. I truly believe that Kane and Lynch are two of the unluckiest characters in gaming history and it’s all because they are too stupid to get out of their own way. Next time, they need to include an option to make sure Lynch keeps taking his pills because I actually found myself getting frustrated at how stupid they would act.
One plus to the game is that the voice acting is solid. Everyone gives a good performance with the limited amount of dialogue incorporated. The graphics are not as strong, but again, this goes back to the “real” cam feature and that a handy cam is not going to push an Xbox 360 or PS3 to the limits.
Another mediocre point is the campaign more. You’ll only get your money’s worth if you crank the difficulty up to Extreme mode where one or two hits will kill you, otherwise there is only about eight hours worth of content with no replay value here.
Possibly the strongest point to the entire game is the multiplayer. Fragile Alliance mode returns and constitutes up to eight players who can work together to pull off a heist, or turn traitor on their teammates to try to collect all the loot for themselves and leaves room for some interesting headset moments when you’re the first victim of a turncoat. The victims though can get revenge as they get one life as a cop to try to take down the criminals and collect a cut of the loot for themselves.
Building on to Fragile Alliance is Undercover Cop mode where you not only have to worry about possible traitors amongst your gang of thieves, but the knowledge that it is one player’s sole purpose to basically turn traitor. The undercover cop’s job is that as soon as a crime has been committed, to take down all the criminals. Not always easy in a full room, but it can be done and can be quite the challenge. The final mode is Cops and Robbers which is a play on your standard six-on-six death match.
Overall, Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is solid, but not spectacular. The new gimmicks employed in this game grow tired quickly and seems to be a blatant attempt to just dress up an alarmingly average third-person shooter. Worth a rental over a weekend, I’d only buy it if you fall head over heels for the multiplayer because the story mode doesn’t have enough on its own to make this a keeper.