Have you ever watched a snuff film? Hopefully not. But you have also more than likely never played through one either. And while Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days isn’t exactly a snuff film, it has the potential to have been one. Taking two gun toting criminal psychopaths with foul mouths and a fetish for explosions and combining them with a YouTube feeling camera and grainy film effects in this game gets you about as close to being a part of a murderous duo as anyone should ever legally be a part of.
Kane & Lynch 2 plays a lot like a standard third person shooter. Progress through a guided path. Shoot any and everything that gets in your way. Along the way, pick up more ammo and better guns. Repeat until completion. Just as it sounds, the basic mechanics of Dog Days are fairly cookie-cutter.
There are a few instances where the game derives from the usual formula however. One such noticable feature is not automatically picking up ammunition your character comes across. Instead you need to search it out and manually pick it up. This winds up making players a lot more conscious of their surroundings and prevents total run and gun play.
At the same time, when adrenaline is rushing in a firefight with police or mafia, you don’t really want to have to run around looking for ammo drops. At the same time, it is a little uneven as picking up just one drop can completely refill your ammo meter instead of having to grab individual clips as you progress from corpse to corpse.
One noticeable feature in Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days from the gunplay that stands out is the strength of the shotgun. In most games, a shotgun is a close range only weapon. But in Dog Days, you can blow people away from a room apart. It feels like you are tearing people apart with it when you walk into the room. If there was enough ammo for both guns, the shotgun / sniper rifle pairing could be used to easily navigate the entire game.
Multiplayer is one of the game’s strong points. With unique modes based on the player’s own greed, it is a very different experience than what one might find in traditional third person shooters. Instead of traditional deathmatch gameplay, players must commit crimes along the way and deal with AI or other player controlled police. In Undercover Cop, a player on the team is actually tasked with taking down the group person by person from the inside without being spotted by his “teammates” while dissension spreads amongst the team as they are being secretly ripped apart.
This experience is likely better on the XBox 360 though as PlayStation 3 isn’t as well equipped for team based online multiplayer. Not nearly as many players are using microphones and the hysteria of Kane & Lynch 2 is probably more exciting when you can communicate better with teammates.
As simple as it sounds, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days has a pretty entertaining story though it is fairly cut and dry. Much like the first Kane & Lynch, a “simple job” goes wrong and chaos ensues around the game’s two main psychopaths. This time, everything falls apart when one gets a little too trigger happy and shoots the wrong innocent bystander.
The only strange aspect is that the game feels the need to start off with a flashback for the first few levels after starting off with the protagonists being brutally tortured in the opening moments. In terms of storytelling, it becomes a very forgettable scene and doesn’t do much in the way of driving you to want to get to that point either.
Much of the game is told in a down and dirty manner to match the visuals. There is tons of swearing and violence, much like an action movie. Don’t expect a lot of depth to anyone other than Kane or Lynch, including Lynch’s very unlucky main squeeze. Most are just two dimensional targets ready to be riddled with ammunition.
Some games can be described as gritty with their dark imagery and story. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days instead is just dirty. Using what is best described as a YouTube camera phone filter, the player is followed with a camera that bobs and sways slightly as if being held by someone’s hand. The filter also makes distortion over all the “film” so it looks like aged cheap 8mm was used to shoot the game.
The problem with this method, while a cool concept, is that it ends up looking more like it is trying to cover up below par graphics instead of added a unique visual flair to the game. Though the filter can never be fully turned off, the in engine cut scenes show up close the lack of polish on the characters and their surroundings. As with many other recent games, sometimes the desire to look ultra realistic ends up leaving characters on screen that more closely resemble mannequins than human beings.
The sound design of the game does nothing special for it. The guns and background effects are very standard. Surprisingly, the game doesn’t take its unique Hong Kong surroundings and add an enticing soundtrack. Even if just background music going through parts of the city, it would have been nice to hear some of the regional music to match the audios to the visuals.
Kane & Lynch 2 does have a fairly entertaining voice cast however. If you can get past the constant “M&#*@er” and “C*^@*)”‘s , there is definitely some well acted bits of dialogue throughout the game. While some of the accents may come across as hokey, much of the game is done in such a tongue and cheek action movie manner, it fits.
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days has a lot of interesting ideas behind it but it just falls short at times. The campaign is fairly short at only six to eight hours and the hyper effected visuals don’t overcompensate for a lack of polish during gameplay and cut scenes. At the same time, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days delivers a quick and fun experience for a mature audience. The mainstream like Halo would never be able to get away with things Kane & Lynch 2 does like chasing down a man in his underwear as he pulls a naked woman with pixilation over her naughty bits or seeing pixilation over the gray matter that used to be a person’s head before you shot it off. Kane & Lynch provides a unique experience that can be hit or miss for some players but is worth taking a look at.
PlayStation 3 (Also available for XBox 360 and PC)
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix