Working Like a Dog
It’s a classic story: The good hearted criminals who are looking for that last big score so they can ride off into the sunset comfortably and with a pretty lady in tow. Unfortunately, when you’re hired thugs Kane and Lynch, these situations usually end up going awry before they even get started.
Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days sees our anti-heroes brought together again a few years after the end of the first game. Lynch has fallen into a nice situation as an enforcer for the number two crime lord in Shanghai and has been tasked with a gun running deal that will allow him to walk away from the business for good with his new lady friend Xiu. It’s a situation that is too good to be true and so he reaches out to his old friend Kane in the hopes of getting him a cut of the good life, especially since things have been a little rougher on Kane since last we saw him.
Kane’s daughter, Jenny, who miraculously survived the events around the first game’s ending, refuses to talk to her father, still blaming him for the death of her mother. Kane isn’t thrilled about teaming up with the still psychotic and pill dependant Lynch, but hopes that this last huge score will help him and his daughter make amends. Or at the very least, allow him to help Jenny achieve a semblance of a normal life from here on out.
As soon as Kane lands in Shanghai and is met by Lynch, you can just feel things are going to turn sour. Lynch informs Kane that he has to rough up a small-time hood with a big mouth before escorting him to his hotel and invites him along for the ride on what serves as the obligatory tutorial mission. As soon as Lynch (who you control this go around, instead of Kane like in the first game) kicks down the door, you know there is more going on than was originally alluded to as the small-time hood, who is in the middle of…umm…relations…with his girlfriend at the time, runs out the backdoor, firing a blind hail of bullets towards Kane and Lynch. The two quickly chase him down, while teaching you the basic controls along the way, and corner the hood and the half-naked woman in a dead end alley.
In the heat of the moment, Kane shoots the girl, who the hood was using like a shield, and the hood in turn cuts his own throat. As Lynch now recognizes the woman who Kane shot as the daughter of Shanghai’s largest crime lord, the two soon realize this has now become a mission of pure survival as there will be a bounty on both their heads that would put their arms deal profit to shame.
The most unique aspect of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days has to be the “real” cam the game features. I’m sure you’ve seen the ads everywhere with sayings like “Real is blood in your teeth”, etc. and then you see our two anti-heroes with Lynch showing a blood-stained grin. The entire reason for this was the new camera system for the game where it is as if a third person was following Kane and Lynch and documenting it with a handy cam. The hope was to make you feel as if you were watching amateur video on YouTube or the nightly news instead of something dreamed up on a Hollywood sound stage. They even go as far as to have the faces of those you beat extra brutally blurred out and to have the sound on the camera go in and out depending on where shots are coming from and who is yelling.
It was a novel idea at first, but after playing through an entire campaign and having the multiplayer locked into that feature as well, I think I actually felt nauseous from motion sickness for the first time in my gaming life. Add in the annoying glare from lights and how it gave the developers the chance to be a little more lazy when it came to environmental details and I appreciate the attempt at something new, but the “real” cam was more irritating that immersive.
Aside from the camera, the game is your standard third-person shooter and doesn’t blow you away with anything in particular. The “sticky” cover used in the first game has been replaced with your standard button prompt cover tactics as seen in Gears of War or Uncharted and you see a typical array of weaponry from pistols to machine guns. The game is also chock full of glitches in both single player and multiplayer. Although I admit I’ve never laughed so hard on headset until I saw a few of the awkward positions my teammates were left in after some of those glitches.
The plot is also very generic and you have a hard time relating to the characters as it seems they bring it all on themselves just to have an excuse to throw more enemies at you and give you a more difficult game experience. I truly believe that Kane and Lynch are two of the unluckiest characters in gaming history and it’s all because they are too stupid to get out of their own way. Next time, they need to include an option to make sure Lynch keeps taking his pills because I actually found myself getting frustrated at how stupid he would act.
One plus to the game is that the voice acting is solid. Everyone gives a good performance with the limited amount of dialogue incorporated. The graphics are not as strong, but again, this goes back to the “real” cam feature and that a handy cam is not going to push an Xbox 360 or PS3 to the limits.
Another mediocre point is the campaign more. You’ll only get your money’s worth if you crank the difficulty up to Extreme mode where one or two hits will kill you, otherwise there is only about eight hours worth of content with no replay value here.
Possibly the strongest point to the entire game is the multiplayer. The campaign is weak to begin with, so co-op does little more for it, but the versus modes are something to behold. Fragile Alliance mode returns and constitutes up to eight players who can work together to pull off a heist, or turn traitor on their teammates to try to collect all the loot for themselves and leaves room for some interesting headset moments when you’re the first victim of a turncoat. The victims though can get revenge as they get one life as a cop to try to take down the criminals and collect a cut of the loot for themselves.
Building on to Fragile Alliance is Undercover Cop mode where you not only have to worry about possible traitors amongst your gang of thieves, but the knowledge that it is one player’s sole purpose to basically turn traitor. The undercover cop’s job is that as soon as a crime has been committed, to take down all the criminals. Not always easy in a full room, but it can be done and can be quite the challenge. The final mode is Cops and Robbers which is a play on your standard six-on-six death match.
Overall, Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is solid, but not spectacular. The new gimmicks employed in this game grow tired quickly and seems to be a blatant attempt to just dress up an alarmingly average third-person shooter. Worth a rental over a weekend, I’d only buy it if you fall head over heels for the multiplayer because the story mode doesn’t have enough on its own to make this a keeper.
Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.
Graphics: 6.5: The “real” cam limits the amount of detail this game can go into, but the detail that is there is solid.
Audio: 8.0: Good voice acting with impressive sound effects due to the “real” cam’s built-in microphone makes this one of the game’s stronger points.
Plot/Plot Development: 7.0: Originally I had this as a higher score, but as I kept playing and continued to grow more and more frustrated with the stupidity of the characters, their situation became less and less believable and more and more frustrating and made playing through the rest of the story a chore.
Gameplay: 4.0: Glitches galore knock this down a couple pegs, but it was only mediocre to begin with. Couple the glitches with only standard third-person shooter action and little variety and you have a below average score.
Replay Value: 7.0: The return of the highly original Fragile Alliance mode and the new Undercover Cop mode highlight a tremendous multiplayer, but there is nothing to bring you back to the campaign, even with a co-op option.
Overall (not an average): 6.0: At the end of the day, Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is a standard third-person shooter with some bells and whistles that fall flat. The game is nothing spectacular besides the multiplayer, but definitely a nice effort overall. Worth a rental over a long weekend, but I would definitely hold off on a purchase unless you go bonkers for the multiplayer.