Kane & Lynch: Dead Men was greeted to a range of mixed reviews when it first released in November 2007. The general conclusion that arose was that the title was fun, yet short-lived, though there was potential for a truly remarkable video game. Almost three years on and the inevitable sequel has been released under the name Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days.
For those readers who are unaware of the Kane & Lynch franchise, the narrative revolves around Adam “Kane” Marcus – an ex-mercenary, and James Seth Lynch – a schizophrenic criminal who escaped death row during a prison transport and are on the run from the police. In Dog Days, Lynch has started a new life in the Chinese city of Shanghai, involving himself in a crime organisation led by Glazer. Glazer informs Lynch of a high-paying operation consisting of smuggling guns into Africa who, with the help of his trustworthy friend Kane, goes ahead with the job.
Unlike in the predecessor, this time around players consume the role of Lynch whilst Kane can be controlled in co-operative play by a second player. Co-operative play is supported both locally (by splitting the screen horizontally) and over the Xbox Live service. Unfortunately, the smaller portion of the screen in split-screen co-op isn’t ideal as the game’s often quite-wide environments prevent players from spotting each and every enemy. Thankfully, the problem is non-existent online and the game mode provides players with an experience that can be enjoyed by both participants.
The gameplay has seen some significant improvements with the addition of a cover system. This works by pressing the A button to get into shelter, with it also being pressed in order to switch between cover, similarly to Gears of War. Furthermore, a ‘down but not dead’ system is in place. This works comparably to the one evident in Borderlands where players have the opportunity to fight back whilst lying down on the floor. Whilst these aren’t particularly new features in video games, they have both been well-implemented in Kane & Lynch 2.
However, there are still a number of problems within the gameplay. The shooting in the game doesn’t feel very accurate, with bullets often missing enemies quite considerably. On top of that, there’s not enough variety between the game’s guns, as pretty much every weapon within the game has the same feel to it, showing very few differences from each of the weaponry available. It’s a shame these gameplay features aren’t particularly strong, especially considering they are a major aspect of Kane & Lynch 2.
The single player campaign will take players approximately eight hours to complete which, despite sounding like the normal timespan for a videogame, is quite disappointing – even more so in Kane & Lynch 2. The reason for this is that the campaign is very repetitive with the game’s only real objective being to eliminate the enemies attempting to prevent progress within the story. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad aspect, it does become tedious pretty quickly.
As well as improvements to the single player game mode, IO Interactive has also made alterations and additions to the multiplayer – now featuring a total of three game modes, all of which can be played within ranked and player matches. Fragile Alliance is a returning game mode in which players attempt to retrieve documents and to flee in the escape vehicle. The reappearance of the game mode will be appreciated by returning Kane & Lynch players with a number of significant enhancements being implemented for a smoother, more enjoyable gameplay experience.
The remaining two multiplayer game modes: Undercover Cop and Cops & Robbers are both new to the series. Undercover Cop is pretty much Fragile Alliance with one player being an ‘undercover cop.’ It’s their job to prevent the rest of the mob from getting to the goal by eliminating them, whilst the remaining players are desperately trying to work out and kill the undercover cop. The game mode can be very tense yet is thoroughly enjoyable; however, rounds and games are often short-lived. This leaves Cops & Robbers, a team-based objective game mode in which players are tasked with robbing a location and making it to the getaway vehicle alive, whilst the other team (the cops) aim to prevent them. The formula only truly works with a significant amount of players, although when this is the case, Cops & Robbers is a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Finally, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days features an Arcade mode which is more or less a single player version of Fragile Alliance, with teammates being controlled by the AI. The game continues round after round with it becoming gradually more difficult until players lose all their lives. Whilst this is a good addition to the title, it’s likely that players will play through the Arcade concept once and not again due to it being far too similar to its online counterpart.
Something that stands out within the game is the unique camera technique employed. In order to portray the ‘psychopaths on the run’ feel, the use of a handheld camera is evident. The effect, accompanied by the gritty, dark look to the game, is a development technique that shouldn’t go unnoticed and whilst the graphics aren’t anything jaw-dropping, kudos has to go to IO Interactive for such a well-innovated feature. As for the audio, Kane & Lynch 2 features reasonable voice acting and sound effects that are worth keeping the volume up on the television for.
To conclude, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is a significant improvement over its predecessor though still fails to live up to the spectacle created by other third-person shooters. Whilst there are some aspects of the game players will enjoy, it’s not enough to encourage a full purchase, deeming the title one to procure when it comes down in price.