Deceitfully light with its content but memorable all the same.
Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days, the sequel to the incredibly mixed reception of Kane and Lynch: Dead Men, carries forth the series now trademark gritty nature and incredibly mature themes and characters and ships them into Shanghai with a lot more of what you'd expect, and yet also a lot less.
K&L 2 reunites players, unsurprisingly, with the criminal duo of Kane and Lynch, though with the focus now centred more toward Lynch rather than Kane unlike the original. Lynch is now living a semi-normal life, complete with a girlfriend he truly loves and a lot less medication to be taken to help calm his psychosis. Even with his life starting to calm down, a deal comes up that even Lynch, despite everything happy in his life, can't resist to put on the line for. To help with this deal Lynch calls over his old crime partner, Kane, to lend a helping hand. Kane and Lynch haven't exactly kept in touch so much between the two years separating the two games, though Kane too finds it tough to hold back from this deal, hoping it to finally have him set for life and to build a happy life for his daughter.
Any crime thriller story experience can tell you that it won't be as simple as that, as could anyone who's familiar with Kane and Lynch's exceedingly bad luck, and rightfully so does the entire situation go to s*** for the duo. The story itself, much like the rest of the game, is pretty light though it's enough to help motivate you to get through the 4-5 hour campaign. Some really messed up things happen to Kane and Lynch through this story, and not just to them physically, which should easily give you a slight burn for revenge to enact on the games antagonists. Not like they're all too memorable, rather they're just enemies of Kane and Lynch and these are characters I really wanted to make it through with what they needed. They're cold blooded killers but damn do they suffer for it.
Much like the first, the real highlight of the story presentation is Kane and Lynch themselves. Once again fantastically voiced and Lynch especially gets some notable character development as he desperately tries to get himself out of this mess for his girlfriend. Kane and Lynch as a pair also show how much they rely on each other. They've gone through so much now and survived through countless death wish situations. It's very tough for them not to strike a bond and their dialogue with each other throughout may almost warm your heart... Maybe.
So while the story and characters are all good, the gameplay fortunately delivers on an equal amount of quality. Alot of what was in the first has now been removed, however, for better or worse. No more squad tactics, no more trading weapons between characters and no more grenades..??? Yeah even grenades are now extinct in the world of Kane and Lynch 2. Instead to go with its much gritty and makeshift nature, Kane and Lynch can hurl fire extinguishers or fuel tanks then shoot it straight after as a replacement. It's still pretty silly when you're against SWAT members and even Marines who don't have any grenades on hand to use. They also can't use the improvised explosives, either. Though they can least shoot the explosives when you have a hold of them, but otherwise is puts the enemy on a short leech.
As you can guess the game comes across as being pretty average. All it has left from the original is the cover based shooting, which is markedly improved from the original in spades. It does at least feature a ''down but not dead'' mechanic that when you take so much damage you'll fall to the ground but can still shoot back or quickly get back into cover. It adds a great deal of tension when it happens and will emphasises on the insanity that is going on around you.
Another small feature added in is the ability to take people as hostages, though nothing of it appears to be of any use. You can only take enemies hostage, not the many Shanghai civilians you'll speed past, and even should you get one without finding yourself be shot dead in a millisecond you'll still be left with a shield that will slow you down, limit you to a magical sidearm that you happen to have tucked away somewhere and all with a guy who can barely take a single bullet before he expires and you're left on the ground yourself, aswell. The most annoying point of it all is that this shield mechanic replaced the melee attack from the original, making rush's to the enemy all but useless, frankly.
What it does have to help stand out, gameplay wise, is the presentation the game is displayed in. As all the trailers have shown, the game runs in a purposely messy filter looking like it's being filmed by a mobile phone or a cheap camera. Plenty of eye daunting effects such as colour separation and frame rate drops are abound and actually makes the game look fantastic in its own way. It adds all the more grit and chaos to this already gritty and chaotic shooter.
All that aside, though, Kane and Lynch 2's campaign is fairly generic by today's standards even with its very striking style. You can of course play through the game cooperatively, which is definitely advised, either offline or online. Offline, though, may take some getting used to. With all the chaos ensuing, having your screen cut in half will make the game almost unplayable at points with you being unable to even see your character. It may disorient players as well, splitscreen or no, so for some they may only be able to clock in a half hour at a time anyway. The camera shake that occurs when running can be turned off but all the colourful distortion is there with you for life.
Speaking for its fairly generic gameplay, it almost does its length justice. What with the game relying mostly on its presentation, a few more hours of the same emptying out rooms of dudes would certainly become tedious and dull. Not like the game's length should become a merit, rather it's better off this way than the developers stretching out their single card over 8-10 hours. Of course some added variety put into a lengthier campaign is what this game could really use. There's a single vehicular segment that has you shooting through windows off a helicopter with a heavy machine gun, that is also fantastic may I add, but otherwise it consists of alot of the emptying out rooms of dudes as I said before. The cooperative aspect isn't given much of the spotlight, either. There are the occasional segments that has Kane and Lynch split up, usually with them both having to watch out for the other; clearing enemies that they can't see. But other than them both needing be together to lift a few garage doors to continue there's little in the way of the cooperative play coming into it.
Cooperative is still recommended to play K&L 2 still. The game, like the first, can be frustratingly tough at times due to the number of enemies and their Godly accuracy. The AI partner is rather competent (and is also invincible) but you'll definitely need to devise strategy with a human player to get the best results out of many of the fire fights. And again, online coop play is the best way to go.
Besides the disappointingly short campaign, there also exists the multiplayer aspects. This is definitely where the game's best traits show and makes good use of the game's still decent shooting. It brings with it the Fragile Alliance mode from the original, as well as two variants, Undercover Cop and Cops and Robbers.
Fragile Alliance plays much like the first: Eight players are to work together engaging in a heist getting as much cash as possible then are to head to the getaway vehicle taking down any cops in the way. The catch is that a player can turn traitor on the team, which is beneficial since you'll gain all the money (which functions as your overall score) for yourself rather than splitting it with the rest of your team. Should you die after being betrayed, or killed by cops, you'll then respawn as a SWAT member. Then you're tasked with taking down all of your former comrades, which is your copper way of gaining your currency; that currency can then be spent on new weapons mid rounds. Cops and Robbers play very similar just now without the traitor aspect and with another six players taking up the roles as the impending law enforcement.
The real highlight definitely goes to the Undercover Cop mode. It plays out much like Fragile Alliance, complete with the possibility to turn traitor, but now with the added worry of one of your team being the Undercover Cop. As the Undercover cop you are to stealthily take down all the other players. You can do it out in the open, though of course your cover will be blown and will leave you with seven pissed off criminals gunning at you.
As the Undercover cop you are to not attack the other cops either, and thus initially gives you the task of trying to stay in character as a criminal but also while trying to simultaneously take down your team. It's pretty unique in this day and it's a thrill like no other if you can pull it off.
Unfortunately, like the main campaign, the multiplayer is just a wee bit dry with how much if offers in the way of its multiplayer content. There only exist six maps across all modes and each time you play the AI is basically in the same positions. That's not to say the game isn't fun to replay through, though the joy of surprise will wear down pretty quickly. It isn't long before you'll soon be able to loosely predict who'll betray you in the Fragile Alliance mode and when, and playing as the Undercover cop can't stretch its thrills forever.
As far as character progression goes there isn't so much to keep you playing. You go up ranks as is routine with multiplayer shooters, but you only unlock new weapons as you go up. Your character is always a randomly assigned criminal from the default eight, so there's little multiplayer character attachment as well. There is a pretty substantial sheet of information that builds up on how you play, which is fun to check out. You even have a few title generators that are given based on how you play or how trust worthy you are. It would be harsh to call the multiplayer a gimmick, but it's very close to reaching such a label with how little depth the multiplayer gives.
Again, though, the game is still really fun to play with guns that feel like they pack some power and a fast paced style that keeps the game running at a very quick and tense pace. If only it could spice it up some more, and not to mention offer more of it in general, this game would really have been something brilliant and a true stand out for 2010. As it is now, however, it is still a fun bundle of content with a distinctive presentation that is alone worth playing through, and multiplayer that is unique and interesting enough to warrant everyone give it a shot. Just don't expect much in the way of longevity with all of this uniquely presented content.