The dodgy duo return the forefront of gaming with their latest underworld escapades in Kane & Lynch 2 Dog Days.
So here it is, the long awaited and much anticipated return of gaming’s most nefarious pairing see’s the ‘gruesome twosome’ raining havoc and bullets on the streets of an unsuspecting Shanghai as the pair take their brand of murder and mayhem on their latest escapade across the Orient. Will they save the girl and get the bad guy? Will they survive long enough to fulfil their mission? Will it be any good? All will be revealed as we take you on the rollercoaster review that see’s the best double act since Morecambe & Wise killing all who stand in their way as Kane and Lynch do what they do best in the awesome sequel ‘Dog Days’
Let’s kick this review into top gear from the very beginning by saying that if you have not yet played, purchased or ordered your copy of Kane & Lynch 2 Dog Days, (for the purpose of this interview we will be just using the moniker ‘Dog Days’), then we suggest that whilst you are reading this review that you open up another ‘tab’ in your browser bar and order the game before stocks run out and you have to wait another few weeks before they are fully repleted once more. Pay close attention to the fact that if you are under 18 that this is not your ‘run of the mill’ title that is open to all age groups. This is a fully fledged hardcore action game that has a lot of bad language, bullets and bloodshed…so if you are not of the correct age or you are a parent purchasing this game for your underage child, then you have been warned! So when ‘little Johnny’ wakes up screaming in the night about how the ‘bald loon’ is coming to get him? Don’t go whingeing on to Square Enix about it.
So with the Dog Days Health Warning firmly out of the way let’s get down to the nitty-gritty shall we?
Once more this year gaming takes a vacation to the seedy side of the time zones, and we see the action taking place on and around the streets of a very well represented Shanghai. The location’s themselves are typical of the setting in the way that they have been portrayed with everything from the towering skyscrapers that loom all around you like concrete sentinels, to the more traditional paper lanterns that drape themselves across every street and alley in a reminder of a simpler time long since confined to history. Kane takes a back seat in this outing for the deranged duo, as Dog Days see’s the storyline centring around the more unhinged of the two criminals. That being the pill-popping Lynch. It turns out to be an inspired move on the part of the developers as we personally felt that out of the two lovable rogues, Lynch had by far the most range to carry on the torch for the deadly two.
At the start of the game you, (playing as Lynch), are seen collecting your partner in crime, Kane, from the local airport where the pleasantries are thin on the ground for the reunited ‘Odd Couple,’ and the handshakes non-existent for this reluctant friendship. Things go well for the pal’s as they are then offered the first ‘get rich quick scheme’ that they both so desperately need to put shoes on their mistresses and diamonds around their necks. (Gangsters Moll’s don’t come cheap as we are led to believe). From here on in however things just go from bad to worse with every turn and with every pull of the trigger, quite literally as they accidentally shoot and kill one of Shanghai’s most powerful underworld figures daughters during said scheme. It is from this point that Lynch’s girlfriend, and probably the only other living soul he has ever truly cared about, is kidnapped by the dead girl’s Gangster father and held as ‘leverage,’ as the two men must come together if they are to achieve their very different goals. Kane just wants to survive and get the hell out of Dodge, Lynch wants his girl. And payback.
The gameplay is fast, frantic an fraught with danger as the developers have totally revamped the problematic play that was associated with the first title in the series. Indeed, Square Enix, Io and Eidos Interactive have done such a fantastic job with this game that even though there is nothing groundbreaking contained in the gameplay you won’t pay that any heed as you fight your way from zone to zone in expansive area’s that are highly destructible and highly detailed. The cover system works very well with a mere flick of a switch seeing your character launch himself behind the nearest available piece of masonry. A nice touch that raised a ripple of applause in the office here at GamesMediaPro Towers, was when your character was ‘downed’ by enemy fire and the option to rise and take cover all in one movement is offered by the simple pressing of a solitary button. Bravo to the developers. As in more than one gunfight we were knocked to the floor by fire or an explosion only to be offered this life saving last chance as we took cover behind a pillar or outcropping whilst out health regenerated.
Another great move by the developers see’s the day’s of ordering non-cooperative NPC’s into position, only for them to stand looking at their feet as they shuffle around nervously, long gone. In its place comes a more standardised form of gameplay that is far superior to the previous title, and is challenging others in the genre for the crown of Best of 2010. Dog Days allows you to do with ease all of the things that you wanted to do in Dead Men but were unable to, and more. One of the best moves on the part of the developers is that they allow you to do all of these things whilst at the same time making you believe that the gameplay is not a step back to a simpler method. Yes, you may have sen all that Dog Days has to offer in the way of gameplay in a million other games, but you will not have seen it done so well or with nearly enough panache. Dog Days just does what everyone else does, only with more style and a whole lot slicker.
The storyline plays along nicely and the gamer never feels like they are fumbling around for objectives or are detached from the plot. The action will come at you thick and fast and the AI has been brilliantly supported so that whether it is the Police, Special Forces or Underworld figures who are doing the attacking they will keep coming at the pair of psychotic gunmen with merciless resolve and dedication to their mission. The lack of any real help from NPC‘s who are allied to the Deadly Duo means that you really are on your own out there for the entire campaign, with the only people who you see being opponent’s and traitors.
By far and away one of the biggest draws that Square Enix have been counting on with Dog Days is its multiplayer experience, and let’s just say that with the amount of gorgeous gameplay that we enjoyed online, that they have done an absolutely stellar job of it. The single player and co-operative modes in Dog Days are as good as anything else out there on the market regardless of what any negative ‘re-voower’ would like to have you believe. But the multiplayer modes in Dog Days are truly where this game stands up to be counted.
The ‘Fragile Alliance’ and ‘Undercover Cop’ modes are genuine gaming gems, as you step into the shoes of a bank robber who can have the option of turning the barrel of his weapon against his fellow crooks or continue along with the team and see how far along the rounds of robbery the criminal compadres can get. There is also the Arcade Mode that allows you to play the entire multiplayer features as a single player either on or offline, however if you choose to play online then you can record your exploits in single player prowess to the games leaderboard for bragging rights amongst your friends. Online in Arcade also allows you to purchase further more efficient and higher calibre weapons that can be brought over into the multiplayer version of the game.
There are already whining reviews regarding the lack of variety in the multiplayer maps in Dog Days, as well as the standard issue cries of the short single player campaign. However we have to say that we thoroughly enjoyed the solo outing. The fast and furious gameplay of the single player game is what makes the title feel short, and if you were to add a lot of the pointless plodding storyline and banter that makes up other titles in the genre then we are sure that you could have added another few hours to the game. However the developers have decided to go with quality over quantity, and it is to their credit in our opinion. Gone are long-winded speeches from no mark characters in favour of all guns blazing action that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let up to let you draw breath until the final credits roll. The multiplayer maps are already being added to with the announced downloadable content. There is still much to come from the criminal chums, and we are sure that Dog Days is merely the second in the long line of future titles for the Deranged Duo.
Graphics: So far in advance of the previous title that Dead Men would need binoculars just to catch a glimpse of Dog Days. The all new over the shoulder positioning of the in-game camera angles makes for a far better experience for the gamer and the renders in the game really bring to life all the sights and sounds of the real world Shanghai. A first-rate job by the development teams and designers and marked improvement for the pair.
Gameplay: Cracking stuff! From the opening banter between to the friends and the gruff blazing voice acting that makes for sizzling dialogue between the two right throughout the game, Dog Days puts it foot firmly on the accelerator and does not lift off for a second throughout the entire game as you fight for every inch of ground and in every room. Heart-pounding gaming action at its very best and looking sharper than ever! 10
RePlay Value: Multiplayer madness! We Loves it! The Undercover Cop mode in the multiplayer has kept us entertained on its own for a solid 23 hours of non-stop gaming. The DLC will beef out the online experience, and the single player campaign, whilst not being the longest in gaming history, is action packed from start to finish. This is some of the finest gaming that we have managed to cram into our busy schedule all year. 9
Presentation: When you take Kane & Lynch 2 Dog Days into account as an entire package, with its hell for leather single player campaign that comes at you faster than a speeding bullet, and its awesome co-op and online multiplayer experience, that has oodles of downloadable content on the way, we doubt that we have seen a more complete gaming experience in the genre all year. The sound effects make you duck at every ricochet, the voice acting is top drawer, the graphics sublime, the gameplay second to none. Dog Days has turned around the fortunes of these two hard-luck anti heroes and made them a real force to be reckoned with. We can’t wait for the third in the series now. 10