Despite the criticism and controversy surrounding IO Interactive's Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, the Danish developer pulled out a pretty acceptable hit with the much improved sequel Dog Days.
Following the events in Dead Men, Dog Days shows supporting character Lynch taking the role of main protagonist starting a new life with a girlfriend in the city of Shanghai, China. However Lynch gets involved in a crime organization led by a man named Glazer who informs Lynch of a beneficial arms smuggling deal that is high paying. As aid, previous protagonist Kane is called by Lynch to help out on the job in return for a split of the money. Following is a series of violence and sometimes uncomfortable events spanning two days where the duo gets themselves into trouble with Shanghai's criminals and police and most of time "trying to get the fuck out" of it.
In comparison to Dead Men, the plot feels very thin from the previous game especially during the second half. Small pieces of exposition and backstory usually occurs during loading times, the quick cut scenes, and small talk in-game. Due to the frantic nature of Dog Days' story, some of the plot details can sometimes be missed only to focus on the immediate situation. That said the game can be completed in around four to six hours (with co-op in a much faster rate) which can be a major turn-off for most people interested. Despite its short playtime, the effective movie-like pacing and the more believable (and slightly less profane) voice acting keeps the events interesting.
During massive gunfights, players can use a multitude of weaponry that feels viscerally damaging. Shotguns being the most notable sound, feels, and looks satisfying when killing enemies in the head (which becomes censored with mosaics). While there are no grenades, an alternative exists with gas cans and fire extinguishers. After throwing one at an enemy's position, a simple shot will provide effective crowd control against the enemies.
Returning from Dead Men is the lauded "Fragile Alliance" multiplayer mode and is much improved. The premise still exists as a group of up to eight players partake in a robbery but one or more can betray the group and go rogue. When a non-traitor dies from the enemy forces, they spawn as police to prevent the robbers. Every new round allows players to buy new weapons from money in the previous round. With new measures to avoid blatant griefing, traitorous actions cannot occur until money has been stolen and if one traitor tries to escape, there will be large units of tough police awaiting them.
Two variants of the mode are introduced in Dog Days. "Cops & Robbers" is a more straightforward version of Fragile Alliance which a group of players are the cops preventing the criminals from escaping. Each team can respawn and trying to grab the money or garner up kills similar to a team deathmatch scenario. The most interesting of the modes is "Undercover Cop" where one of the eight robbers is the agent with the objective of stopping the other players from escaping. The mode becomes a thrilling mind-game of who's the cop which leads to staying aware of every player.
The intensive gunfights in both single player and multiplayer are heavily complimented by the game's unique visual style. Looking like it was recorded off of a cheap digital camera, things like the lack of detailed focus, constant pixelation and shakycam makes the deliberately ugly game much more uglier. With the context of Shanghai's grimy streets, it effectively works in Dog Days. While the video filters will always be enabled, players can turn-off shakycam which is good for the weak willed despite looking less intentionally awful.
Dog Days also has its peeves with its online features and the limited content generally provided. While the online enabled co-op mode is very fun to play, it's plagued with the issue of the game ending if one of the players quit instead of implementing a more seamless and effective drop-in/out format. Although Dog Days isn't Halo 3 in terms of online activity, it shouldn't use similar matchmaking systems like quitting and being unable to return. The player base doesn't warrant those systems. When players quit ranked games (especially Cops & Robbers matches), having unfair team counts makes the Dog Days less fun.
As said with the short playtime, there are generally six multiplayer maps with another set only available through pre-order (will soon be available to all as DLC). There are no changes to how the maps are played and the enemies are usually in their same cover points. These points can be hard to justify a full price purchase to most interested.