The Kayne and Lynch series debut was a mixed one. Discussion of the the first game was dominated by the “scandal” of paid-reviewing. Perhaps as a backlash to that story, the game received a lot of critical heat and poor overall scores. Through all the fervor and commotion what was lost was a passable game which was fun to play in co-op with a friend, and had some interesting multi-player segments.
The main characters are certainly interesting if nothing else. They are ultra-violent criminals will little remorse for anyone outside of their immediate loved ones: a daughter in the first and girlfriend in the second. What remains is tandem game-play using cover, flanking and just generally cutting a bloody path through the levels. In fact they may have taken the extreme action too far over the top for some player’s tastes.
The installation process and loading scenes for Kane & Lynch 2 Dog Days has a feature that is sorely missing from most games. The copy I received from Gamefly was for the PS3 and featured a view from a moving vehicle on a Chinese highway during the game installation, showcasing some nice lighting, shaders and models. The loading screen, which the developers strangely chose to display with “buffering”, features small snapshots of actions scenes from the game paired with dialog enhancing the storyline.
Sadly the intro graphic scene was probably tweaked specifically to look pretty as the rest of the game is not as such. A majority of that look is by design as there is a shaky-cam constantly in play along with lots of screen effects, including rain, blood and motion blur. Many Kane & Lynch 2 Review articles have complained of the shaky-cam and probably rightfully so. It comes off feeling like a poorly shot home movie / pseudo snuff film. Luckily this can be turned off in the menus for in-game sequences.
Another strange graphical feature is the use of blurred mosaic patterns to hide nudity and violence. For a series, and this game in particular, that flaunts the extreme nature of both, it seems very out of place to blur things out when other games, which are less saturated with that type of content, do not. This may be from having Square-Enix as publisher, or it may not.
The cover system works well although vaulting over cover seems like it could have been handled by mapping the vault move to a different button. The environments are interesting and full of life, but they are often over-taken by the screen effects and texture work that is extremely inconsistent. The Kane and Lynch models themselves are passable as are most of the main characters.
The narrative in Kane and Lynch 2 Dog Days is barely there. Kane and Lynch meet up for a job, and it turns into a revenge and get the money at all costs sort of thing. You don’t ever really feel sorry for or motivated to like the characters due to their nature and the nasty things they do except through some really well-done voice acting in between stages. The dialog is not enough to overcome the unlike-ability of the characters and the fact that the story essentially doesn’t come to any conclusion; ending abruptly and thus ensuring a sequel.
Kane and Lynch 2 Dog Days is a rental at best. Rent or borrow this one for a couple of days. I breezed through the single player in just under 5 hours on normal difficulty. The rest of my time with the game will be spent running through the story in co-op with a friend and playing the various multi-player games. Kane and Lynch 2 Dog Days is available on PS3, XBox360 and PC at standard new release pricing at all major retailers.