‘Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days’ is a raw and brutal crime shooter that aims to redefine the way you experience gaming. Certainly not for the fainthearted, the game will take you on a journey of the criminal underworld that plays out on screen as an amateur indie movie. It gives the impression of being followed by a camera man with a cheap hand-held filming device as you complete your objectives on the streets of Shanghai, but so long as you’re not offended by the words “fuck”, “shag” and other obscenities, with an inner killer-instinct as a means of survival - your journey is sure to be somewhat memorable!
Kane & Lynch 2, features a complete revamp of the visual style of its predecessor and this time allows gamers to experience the main Story Mode as Lynch, with Kane available only in co-operative mode. Developers, IO Interactive has based the new visual style on documentary films, and that cheap hand-held filming device impression gives the game an added depth of realism to the Shanghai surroundings. It’s intense, gritty, and leaves you hooked - you soon begin to feel like you are the viewer of a reality show following the lives of two foul mouthed criminals on an escape mission! Quite often you never know what’s going to happen next, but just can’t wait to find out.
The game starts with Lynch who is now settled in Shanghai with his girlfriend, waiting for his friend Kane to arrive. The initial purpose of Kane’s arrival is to help Lynch and his boss, Glazer with an arms deal. Lynch, unable to complete the job alone had requested Kane’s help, but first, upon his arrival an informant has to be dealt with swiftly - then, from that moment the rest of the story slowly unfolds.
After a chase through the backstreets of Shanghai and an intense enemy shootout, you find your informant and his girlfriend who are now both on the run, but your job is to hunt the informant down and keep him alive. The situation doesn’t go according to plan and the informants girlfriend who appears in the first instance as a gutter slut, turns out to be the daughter of a high profile, yet corrupt government official, Shangsi. Unfortunately as part of the chase she is shot and killed outright, then the informant commits an act of suicide leaving both Kane and Lynch in a very difficult situation with Glazer and the government official, who also so happens to be the most dangerous businessman in Shanghai.
The Story Mode follows a path of betrayal, survival and revenge through eleven chapters of third-person-shooting action as Kane and Lynch find themselves wanted by the entire Shanghai criminal underworld. The plot is basic and mostly about escaping from one area to another along a linear route which tends to involve being caught up in firefights of increasing difficulty as the game nears a completion. From the Difficulty options you can choose Easy, Medium, Hard or Extreme depending upon how challenging you like your missions, but Extreme is near on impossible to complete alone and is best advised strictly for co-operative gameplay. If you want to get at least eight to ten hours from the campaign, then the Medium or Hard setting is likely to be your best option. Co-Op Story Mode can be played locally or through Xbox LIVE, and your main objective throughout is simply “Kill or be killed” through many of the game’s outdoor environments as well as the internal buildings that have been perfectly visually designed to replicate the feel of a gangland enforced Shanghai city.
Although the game is quite linear, in many parts there is still plenty of room for exploration as you hunt out enemy targets, kill those on your tail and pick up new weapons and ammunition. Due to the large quantity of enemies within ‘Kane & Lynch 2′ you will never go short of weapons or ammunition that you can grab off the AI after you’ve killed them, and because it plays like a documentary, a killed enemy will have his face pixelated on screen by the camera as if it was to protect his identity on TV. To further aide your survival against enemies - Down not Dead, a second chance allowing players to shoot back or crawl to cover in one shot kill situations, and Human Shields, an act of desperation to add more dimension to the cover system has been implemented for those difficult, tense, near death moments.
Upon completion of the Story Mode, it does leave you wishing the game could have been a bit longer by just a couple more chapters, but the Co-Op options that allow you to play in local split-screen or with a player on Xbox LIVE adds further replay value and could even help you obtain the more difficult Achievements. If you’re after a no frills shooter that doesn’t involve running around trying to find hidden in-game items, no solving of complex puzzles, a game where you can simply load up your gun, run, if it moves - shoot it, hope for the best and enjoy the environment around you - then ‘Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days’ will fulfill all your wishes.
Thanks to the power of Xbox LIVE, the Story Mode within ‘Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days’ is only half the fun as the game boasts a number of Multiplayer gametypes to unleash your competitive streak. Starting with the return of Fragile Alliance from the original Kane & Lynch game for up to eight players, this involves working together as a team in a heist scenario to escape with as much of the four-million loot as possible within a four minute time period. The players involved in the heist will need to kill off the opposing players acting as guards and police as they make their way to a getaway vehicle. The more interesting aspect of Fragile Alliance is a test of greed, because if all players play as a team unit, the score will be split evenly, but those who want to try for the most loot may decide to become greedy “fuck-wit” traitors, turn on their team and use another player as a Human Shield for their own selfish advantage! Not only that, but as well as the option to betray your team and make off with all of the loot, you could be done-over by another team member wanting it all for themselves - or managing a safe escape you could even split the cash with the getaway driver and think “fuck everyone else”!
Next up is Undercover Cop; very similar to the Fragile Alliance gametype, but - yes you guessed it - an Undercover Cop has been placed on your own team! The Undercover cop is chosen at random before the start of the game and only that player is aware they are the chosen one. All other players in the game are to trust absolutely no one, because the role of the Undercover Cop is act just like one of the Robbers and wait for the heist to begin. Once the loot has been stolen, the Undercover Cop’s role within the game has only just started - he must take out all of the dirty robbing bastard’s one by one without getting caught or killed. If even one Robber manages to get away with any sum of money - the Undercover Cop has failed his duty and has lost the game. Robber’s on the other hand will receive a reward for managing to kill the Undercover Cop if they can find him! This gametype is quite short, but fast and frantic action that becomes quite addictive, by far the best multiplayer mode in ‘Kane & Lynch 2′ for up to eight players.
The final multiplayer gametype available from the options is Cops & Robbers. A twelve player, ‘Kane & Lynch 2′ take on a team deathmatch mode where all players in a game are split into two teams, Alpha and Beta. One team will become the Cops and the other team is forced to become the Robbers who will set out on the same mission familiar to Fragile Alliance that involves completing a heist for loot. The team of Cops are enforced with the task of trying to stop the heist, killing the Robbers as they try to escape, and returning the loot as quickly as they can.
‘Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days’ will appeal to gamers who are mostly hooked on action packed multiplayer gameplay, where you just want to get on Xbox LIVE and shoot someone, also for the players out there who couldn’t give a toss about campaign modes! Whilst the Story Mode is quite short and feels like a bonus addition to a game that is designed as a perfect multiplayer title - the addition of Xbox LIVE co-operative options for the Story Mode further adds to the fun of playing, even though it is a shame it isn’t drop in & out enabled. When that random guy you picked up on Xbox LIVE quits, it’s Game over.
The game has been rated 18 for a reason. It’s very aggressive with quite possibly the most amount of swearing ever heard in a game, but it does unfortunately lack a decent amount of gore and killing an enemy is not as graphically detailed as the accompanying dialogue - more wounds and blood wouldn’t have gone a miss!
‘Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days’ was released on August 20th, 2010, and a demo is also available to download from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
Final Score: 8 out of 10 - Good (How do we rate games?)