Forget anything you knew about Kane and Lynch: Dead Men and sit back and enjoy Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days as a fresh game, with a brand new combat and cover system, it may not be game of the year material, but you’ll not have more fun in Shanghai in any other game.
The unusual setting of Dog Days in the neon slums of Shanghai will capture your imagination and a definite high point of the game is the perfectly sculpted environments, far removed from the generic locations that most shooters place you, in Kane and Lynch 2 you will not forget Shanghai.
A big stylistic change that was put forth in Kane and Lynch 2 was the consistent YouTube aesthetic, which whilst slightly aggravating and off-putting to begin with, slowly grows on you, and as the game progresses, you will find that IO Interactive were extremely regulated with including the aesthetic in absolutely everything, and there is little inconsistency in the game, and undoubtedly you will not ever see another game pull it off in such a way.
A true let down of the game is found in its portrayal of emotion, the voice acting is superb and there’s barely a wooden character in the whole game! However it is almost as though the animators did not know what sort of characters Kane and Lynch are, the two are brutish men, not afraid to shout and scream at the top of their lungs, yet both models show as much emotion as a cucumber. Granted that IO Interactive’s popular franchise Hitman, has never needed to rely on emotions, but if you’re going to have two grown men shouting then it should be put forth in their body language, not just their voice.
One portion of the game that will stand out to all players is a particular chapter in the campaign where Kane and Lynch are required to walk around completely naked, I’m still at two minds to whether it beats Metal Gear Solid’s naked Raiden section, but it made it apparent that unfortunately, as uncharacteristic as Kane and Lynch are, their bodies portray the usual sculpted heroes that games have gotten boring for using so often, which is disheartening considering the effort that Kane and Lynch's characters have had put into them.
The real shame with Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is that it's campaign is rather short, and a completion takes around 6-8 hours, however the story is well written throughout, and you do grow to understand the short-tempered nature of the pair towards the end of the game. Although the campaign is rather short, the game can be extended furthermore through the co-op which is available to be played in both local and via Xbox Live.
The local co-op is slightly difficult to play, and split screen works extremely well in first-person-shooters, however in Kane and Lynch 2, it is tremendously difficult to navigate half of a horizontal screen, which is a slight shame, as not enough games contain local-co-op, however the Xbox Live co-op is great fun, and it’s the perfect game to play co-operatively. Although unlike most cooperative games there are no properly co-operative aspects that require the two of you to work together.
As everyone knows the saving grace of the original was its multiplayer which took a really simple concept; the heist which has not been covered very much in games and they nailed it on the head. Well Fragile Alliance is back, and pits 8 strangers to help out with a heist, while any minute your teammates can double cross you. Even through the new Undercover Cop and Cops and Robbers game modes unfortunately the multiplayer itself isn’t very different from the original, but a definite highlight of the game, and well worth a good play.
A rather nice inclusion to the game is new Arcade mode, which is practically the multiplayer portion of the game but offline, which allows players that do not have LIVE subscriptions to miss out on the online aspect of the game. Of course arcade mode will never compare to the real thing, and the difference between the no fear attitude of real players in an online match, and AI controlled characters that take their time with the enemies in the arcade matches, does make you wish for online play a little more.
Kane and Lynch 2 is a solid 3rd person shooter that may have some of the most un-loveable characters in the whole of the gaming universe but is still an engaging and intense ride, which although short guarantees your undivided attention, and the multiplayer is a recommended good night in.
Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is available now for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Windows, for an SRP of £49.99, it may not be the best game of 2010, but it sure beats a lot of the bland games that are released, Kane and Lynch shows some real character.