‘Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days’ Impressions

November 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve been playing this game a little over the weekend and yesterday, and I’m pretty much done with it now. Sadly, I never got the chance to try out the Undercover Cop or Cops & Robbers modes, as there was no one online playing them. Hell, just trying to get a game together for Fragile Alliance was difficult enough.

The game is super short, but in all honesty I had had enough by the time I finished the main campaign and played some of the arcade mode. Having said that, though, there is a slightly seedy feel to Kane & Lynch 2 that is oddly quite refreshing, and IO Interactive has done a bang-up job of recreating the scuzzier side of Shanghai. Although it’s a little depressing, it feels authentic. Probably its best quality – reinforcing the pulpy, gritty atmosphere – is the way IO has added a graphical filter, special effects and a “shaky-cam” third-person perspective, making it seem like the action before you is being recorded off a digital camera. It’s a clever trick, one which I don’t think has been done before. I can see that it might divide people – that it makes everything look a bit crummy, that the camera bob is nausea-inducing, etc. – but I really think it’s the best thing going for the game.

These are all things that make Kane & Lynch 2 unique and interesting and worth playing. My big problem, though, is that the gunplay and combat, while an improvement on the original, still feels off in this sequel.

They stole his M&Ms. He wants them back.

Specifically, the animations for the character models look weird and jerky, and the AI is substandard, as if everyone’s on speed and doesn’t quite know where they’re going or what they’re doing. Another aspect, the “Down Not Dead” mechanic, where you’ve been knocked back on your ass but are still able to fire while you get back into cover, feels contrived and looks a bit bizarre. Also, I don’t like the way accuracy works in the game, where you can miss even if you have the cursor perfectly centred on an adversary’s face; enemies towards the tail-end of the game are bullet-sponges, taking way too many slugs in the chest before they go down; and cover is strangely ineffective, even when seemingly out of an enemy’s line of sight. Crucially, the gunplay here is substandard, and when you have a weak foundation like that, it tends to bring everything else down with it.

The Story mode, which can also be played in online co-op, is basically the typical deal-gone-wrong plotline out of any number of heist films, and as I mentioned it’s short. The Arcade mode feels like filler content, with very little thought put into it. It’s essentially a version of Fragile Alliance without any of the human elements that make it interesting. Similar to a Horde mode, the player repeats the same map over and over, whereupon entering each new round the AI gets stronger and more aggressive. However, because enemy placements remain the same throughout and the maps are so small it gets tiresome quickly.

The multiplayer version of Fragile Alliance is a lot more interesting for the reason that you’re playing with and against people on your team, not bots. The whole idea of Fragile Alliance – its design – is superb, and it deserves its own game, not to be tacked on like this. With a larger range of expanded maps, more sophisticated AI and placement, and better gameplay, that could be IO’s ticket for success.

As it stands, Kane and Lynch 2 is a mixed bag. It has moments in it of genuine inspiration, but they’re mired by mediocre gameplay and a lack of content.

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