Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is the follow-up to 2007’s Kane and Lynch: Dead Men with the new game picking up a few years after the events of the first game. This time around Lynch has gotten out of the limelight and has made a life with girlfriend Xui (pronounced Sue) when he invites Kane to Shanghai for some “easy” money. Kane arrives in Shanghai and things quickly go downhill for him and Lynch with their next 48 hours constantly going from bad to worse. The sequel is very different from the original in almost every respect, from graphics to controls, though I am not sure that the changes were for the best.
The first thing you will notice about Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is the initial 3 minute or so load that has to be done. On a personal level, I really, really hate those initial loads when they happen, but when they are necessary I expect a gaming experience worthy of the inconvenience such as Heavy Rain or Metal Gear Solid 4 but Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days won’t quite deliver that. As if this wasn’t enough, between chapters you will get the “buffering” icon on the screen, while they are staged well it just takes you out of the gaming experience, an issue that plagued Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood, though this is not nearly as bad as COJ.
On the good side, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days does deliver a gaming experience that can only be classified as memorable. The game has several moments that are simply classic and you will ask yourself did they really do that, the answer my friend is yes they did. The game does have a good pace, at first I didn’t really like the pace and the shaking camera (which you can turn off if you like), but over the course of the game it really added to the franticly paced gameplay that will be this game’s signature. The folks at IO interactive said they were going for a gritty experience and in that sense they definitely delivered. I really appreciated that when you take too much damage and go down, you don’t suffer any real loss of capability, you can fully shoot and aim while down and this capability will save you on more than one occasion. The game does have well placed checkpoints for the most part, so you never really have to start too far from where you got killed and the game never starts you at a point or in a condition where you need a miracle to survive.
The game does have a decent array of weapons, though accuracy with anything besides the sniper rifle at times seems to be pure chance. The amount of ammo you have to unload on an enemy sometimes is ridiculous, though besides a few heavily armored vehicles near the end of the game that you have to take out there are no real boss battles in this game.
From a controls standpoint, the game just really doesn’t feel polished. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days does have a cover system; though the way the game is designed I think that it forces you to rely on it too heavily. Cover systems are supposed to provide the player tactical options for effectively dealing with enemies without getting shot to bits, however, they are not intended to be where the player spends the majority of their gameplay time. In Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days though, if you don’t use your cover effectively then get ready for a long day. While you can carry two different weapons, two assault rifles/shotguns if you like which was nice, I was rather disappointed that you didn’t have access to any kind of standard explosives (i.e. grenades, mines, etc). I clarified that with the word “standard” because you can pick up and throw explosive things that you find in the environment such as gas containers, fire extinguishers, and other items. You will also do well to identify these objects when you are pinned down by a number of enemies and you need to sway the battle in your favor, look for something flammable and shoot it.
As someone who really wanted this game to be good, I am very disappointed. The game has a few flashes of greatness but on a whole it fails to be anything other than average. The controls in the game are nowhere as tight as they needed to be to keep up with its frantic pace. The graphics are not great either and that is even if you account for the filters that cover most of the game, though the filters were a unique effect that I am sure we will see in future titles. The overall story is believable and actually really funny at times though not even that ever comes together and the games closing events are anti-climatic at best. Kane and Lynch are the only characters you will come to know and unlike in the original, neither character is particularly likeable. You can’t really relate to Kane’s motivation which after the events of the original is only mildly believable. As for Lynch, they tried to soften him from the raving lunatic that he was in the first game and make you sympathetic for him but it never happens and you end up feeling indifferent about both.
The final call on Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is that it is not better than the first game. In the original I really liked the more tactically focused team controls and they did a much better job of making you feel somewhat sympathetic for at least one of the characters. They did pretty much eliminate the sections of the game that became ridiculously frustrating in the first one; those of you who played the original know what I mean. With three years since the last one, I simply expected more. The games is only about a third as long as the original, coming in between three and a half and four hours, so it’s over pretty quickly and I doubt you will want to play it again. With the short overall game length and less than compelling gameplay this one is definitely a rent. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days fails to deliver on what were some very promising building blocks from the first one and in doing so pretty much guarantees there won’t be a third one.