Giant Bomb Review

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Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days Review

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  • X360

Kane and Lynch's trek through Shanghai's underworld is astoundingly brief, leaving you just enough time to get a feel for the game's great visual style, but not much else. Also, we experienced a fairly crippling technical issue while testing the Xbox 360 version.


 Kane's calling this his last job.
Kane and Lynch's return to action sees the duo placed in Shanghai, but more importantly it sees the criminal duo placed in a better third-person shooter than 2007's Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. But the more intense and satisfying action of the sequel doesn't last. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days suffers from a general lack of content across all of its modes. It also has a crazy and unique visual style that really makes the game worth seeing, but its length (and some seemingly rare but decidedly crippling issues in the 360 version) makes the game's $60 price tag feel high.

Dog Days puts Lynch and Kane in Shanghai. They haven't exactly remained close since the events of the first game, but when Lynch's Chinese connection--OK, he's actually a British guy named Glazer--needs someone to help out on a caper, Lynch gets Kane involved. As you might expect, the deal goes sideways almost immediately, pitting Shanghai's biggest crime boss against Kane and Lynch, forcing them to spend the entire game trying to get the hell out of China. The plot is quite thin, though there's some pretty good dialogue interspersed here and there. There's a bit of a "less is more" approach here, because every time the action stops, something incredibly messed up happens, from a naked woman getting gunned down by stray bullets to a torture scene that leaves the two protagonists bloody and, hey, wait, they're also naked.

The gameplay in Dog Days is fine, but you've played this game before. This is a cover-based third-person shooter with very few frills. You hit a button to get into cover, back away to get out, and you'll use the left trigger to pop out and the right trigger to shoot. You'll use a variety of weapons, including some of the most effective shotguns I've seen in a very long time. Seriously, the shotguns in Kane & Lynch 2 feel like they reach out and touch enemies that would be too far away for most other in-game shotguns. But aside from the occasional gas can or other explosive object that you can throw out at your enemies and shoot, all of the weapons are guns. Without grenades, it's tough for the enemies to flush you out of your position, and though they'll occasionally try to flank you, it's not especially difficult to keep them at bay. As a result, the game usually only gets difficult if you're out of patience and trying to rush ahead.

If you're trying to get the most out of the game, I'd actually advise you against rushing ahead, because the game is already short enough as it is. It took me a little under four hours to get through the story mode. You can always play the game cooperatively, but the co-op mode doesn't support any kind of jump-in or jump-out play. You'll have to create a lobby and wait for a player to join or invite a friend. It all feels a little dated, design-wise. Luckily, the rest of the multiplayer is more interesting.

Fragile Alliance returns in the sequel with some good new variants. 
Fragile Alliance returns from the first game, and it's more effective here because, unlike the first game, the core shooting and player movement in K&L2 is actually fun. It's a unique mix of cooperative and competitive play, as all the players start on one team of criminals, attempting to take down a big score and escape within four minutes or so. The catch is that, at any point, a player can gun down someone on his team and turn traitor, which means he won't split the money he's carrying with anyone else--if he can make it out alive, that is. Regular players that die respawn as cops, adding another human element to the criminals' opposition. The problem with all this is that there are only six maps (unless you unlock an extra map or two via pre-order codes) and running them over and over gets old. The enemies usually appear in the same areas every single time, and there are realistically only one or two places where it makes sense for a player to turn traitor, so once you've grown to expect those, it's fairly similar every time. But some additional modes help change things up.

Cops & Robbers is a mode that allows players to respawn as they fight back and forth over sacks of loot. It's a decent diversion, but the Undercover Cop mode is probably the best of the lot. Here, Fragile Alliance is played as usual, but one player is secretly told that he's the cop. And it's up to that player to ensure that none of the other criminals escape. To facilitate this, the cop isn't flagged as a traitor when he shoots the criminals. So the goal is to stealthily take down the criminals, one at a time. It's pretty thrilling and tough, but not impossible, to pull off.

While it's a bit lacking on the content side, the visual style of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is really amazing. The whole game looks like it's being filmed on a busted-up cell phone, with plenty of MPEG compression artifacts, color separation, streaky lighting, and so on. Watching the frame rate deliberately take a dive during huge explosions is especially cool. Also, the game's camera lopes and swings around dramatically, especially when you run. While it can be enough to make spectators a bit nauseous, I didn't have any trouble with it when I was actually at the controls. If you can't deal with it, a "Steadycam" setting in the options lets you calm down the camera movement, but not the other visual tricks. All in all, it looks great by looking deliberately awful.

It's got a striking visual style, but you won't spend much time looking at it. 
While the console versions of Kane & Lynch 2 seem to be on-par, I experienced a fairly crippling issue with the Xbox 360 version of the game after spending around 10 hours with it. It seems that some sort of profile or save game-related issue causes the game to completely seize up for a few seconds when you kill someone, often with a shotgun or via the game's human shield mechanic. I'm no QA guy, so I won't try to speculate too much about what's going on, and perhaps it's not the sort of thing that will happen to every single Xbox 360 owner, but it happened here on multiple machines. We've got footage of it occurring in our video review. It's pretty terrible. If you're looking at buying the Xbox 360 version of the game, you might want to wait for a patch or two. No such issues occurred in the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

Kane & Lynch 2's visual style really sets it apart in ways that its standard take-cover action can't. It'd be a really cool game that would actually be pretty easy to recommend if there were a little more to it. While there are definitely aspects of the game that are very much worth seeing, the game's lack of content (and potentially severe Xbox 360 issue) make it tough to recommend as a full-priced purchase. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
90 Comments
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Posted by ICryCauseImEmo

nice review

Edited by Dogma

Ouch! That hurt! Didn't expect a double review of this game. But the 360 version seems to be so bad that Jeff feel like he should warn us for it. When did that happen last time? Bayonetta? Do you have these when the versions differ greatly?

Posted by The_Laughing_Man

Wow so the issues where bad enough that you did two reviews? Must be horrible 360 issues. 

Edited by Yummylee

Well dayum. Haven't been a separate review for a different version since Bayonetta @.@

Posted by Dylabaloo

Right didn't really know what was going on there.

Posted by Grissefar

That's 2 stars. Looking forward to the video review to see the problem in action.

Posted by Xanth93
@Dogma:  The review posted on each version is exactly the same, but they just give the two versions different amounts of stars. I've only ever seen this once before with Bayonetta.
Posted by Vitor

Seems to be par for the course so far - a 4/10 on Eurogamer and a 1/10 on Destructoid (while they're no strangers to giving shockingly low scores, see their 4/10 Assassin's creed 2 review, the fact that the reviewer had been vocally anticipating this game for a while now makes me less ready to claim sensationalism for sensationalism's sake). 
 
Shame - was in between this and Mafia 2 for the PC. Guess the low scores helped make my purchasing decision (already preferred the Mafia 2 demo over this one's). I always thought the series had some potential and IO interactive do have some pedigree behind them that made me hope they would have fulfilled the promise the first game had. Really disappointed.

Posted by jim_dandy

The game seizing up isn't a bug. It's a feature. 
 
It lets you briefly consider the terrible act of violence you just committed, thus allowing some sort of moral lesson to seep into you that, perhaps, murder isn't the right way to do things.

Posted by Cramsy

Jeff, you're fired.

Edited by ZeroCast

In other words, the shitty covering system from the first game was fixed with the rest of the game being just an act of polishing here and there. It's just a third person shooter with a 4 or less hours campaign and an online mode which gets repetitive because of the maps. 
 
 3 Stars is spot on. 

 Add to that the issues of the 360 version and you've got yourself the most disappointing sequel this year.

Posted by Jeffsekai

LMAO

Posted by Cirdain

Don't touch the Xbox 360 version then :D

Edited by Blair

"...and he drops him with a big right hand."

Posted by GunnBjorn

Bayonetta X360 = beautiful! 
        ''           PS3 = shitty performance. 
 
K&L: DD seems to be the exact opposite. 
In the case of Bayonetta I somewhat understand, since it is more difficult to code for the PS3 hardware. 
That the X360 version of K&L: DD is the worst, baffles me.
Posted by pbhawks45
@Cramsy said:
" Jeff, you're fired. "
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA NOBODY HAS EVER MADE THAT JOKE EVER MAN GOOD ONE
Posted by RedRocketWestie

I've noticed some games don't handle saving to a/my thumb drive well. I wonder if Jeff was saving to the hard drive or a thumb drive, and if that could be the issue.

Posted by Hilbert

i don't think this game is gonna do well on any platform. It just looks so stupid, like a game that should have been released in 1997.
Posted by skrutop
@Jeff: If they patch it, will you remove this review?
Posted by natetodamax
@Cramsy said:
" Jeff, you're fired. "
Let it go.
Posted by OldManLight

could someone explain why they felt the original kane and lynch deserved a sequel?

Posted by maladjusted

I sort of had a feeling this was how it was going to go down... Interesting visual style- which can't be equalled by the games contents...

Posted by big_jon
@skrutop said:
"@Jeff: If they patch it, will you remove this review? "

He has said in past NO.
Posted by ItsAJackal

Are the problems with the shooting why it got such a low score?  I know you stated it's a rental, but you gushed about the style and multiplayer for 5 minutes before that comment...2 seems a bit low for that type of rave

Posted by AlwaysBeClothing

That game hitching bug is real bad.  REAL BAD.
 
I'm pretty amazed by the two different system reviews, Bravo Jeff!

Posted by L

Another one to pick up for cheaps a few months down the line. Thanks, Jeff.

Posted by elko84

This game has some neat ideas, but I refuse to play either of the kane and lynch games.

Online
Posted by hustlerlt

I have this game and have to say it isn't that bad.That glitch that Jeff mentioned didn't happened to me yet,but I really hated the fact,that unless you're shooting a shotgun,the shooting isn't satisfying at all.But I've got to say,that I really love the art style,especially when you shoot someone in the head and the game censores it.

Posted by Napalm

I was not expecting that.

Posted by SunKing
@AlwaysBeClothing said:
" That game hitching bug is real bad.  REAL BAD. "
 
Tell me about it. I thought Jeff was exaggerating when he mentioned it in the text review, but oh lordy, lord, that is an awful bug.
Posted by tranquilchaos
@natetodamax said:
" @Cramsy said:
" Jeff, you're fired. "
Let it go. "
You are also fired. 
Posted by simian

Crazy I would have expected the PS3 version to have issues since that seems the norm.

Posted by JokerSmilez

The multiplayer modes seem really cool, so it's too bad there isn't some better map design or more of them. 
 
I hope to see these kinds of modes in more shooters, at least.

Edited by fentonalpha
@pbhawks45 said:

" @Cramsy said:

" Jeff, you're fired. "
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA NOBODY HAS EVER MADE THAT JOKE EVER MAN GOOD ONE "
Actually seeing as this is the first K&L game since the infamous one then most likely NOBODY has made that joke before.  Unless Jeff writes Kane and Lynch reviews for fun on his spare time. 
I grow tired of GB's jaded pissed off attitude.
Posted by Vinny_Says
@skrutop said:
" @Jeff: If they patch it, will you remove this review? "
I'm pretty sure they've talked about reviews before patches on the bombcast.
Posted by RecSpec

Is this the first time they've had to split reviews like this?

Posted by Vipersona

I want to see Jeff in  Kane and Lynch movie. Cameo would be enough.

Posted by Doubt
@fentonalpha said:
" @pbhawks45 said:
" @Cramsy said:
" Jeff, you're fired. "
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA NOBODY HAS EVER MADE THAT JOKE EVER MAN GOOD ONE "
Actually seeing as this is the first K&L game since the infamous one then most likely NOBODY has made that joke before.  Unless Jeff writes Kand and Lynch reviews for fun on his spare time.  I grow tired of GB's jaded pissed off attitude. "
Me too bro
Posted by fedorajay
@fentonalpha said:
" @pbhawks45 said:
" @Cramsy said:
" Jeff, you're fired. "
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA NOBODY HAS EVER MADE THAT JOKE EVER MAN GOOD ONE "
  I grow tired of GB's jaded pissed off attitude. "
It's users like   pbhawks45  that are ruining the community. All caps, no substance and just trying to get attention. 
This site isn't as bad as others, like Kotaku, but the trolls and retarded comments are getting more visible here. 
Posted by Jayzilla

4 hours of game play? wow. that's pretty terrible.

Posted by siavm

I agree with this review. I may not agree with half  of the reviews here, but this is a review I can get behind and have been waiting to see. The first game looked like crap. And this game certainly didn't like to change that only make it worse.

Posted by DrDoctor

This is the most meta video review I have ever watched. Excellent job guys.

Posted by chogi

you killed justin calvert!!! you bastard!!!

Posted by ka_tet19
@Cramsy said:
" Jeff, you're fired. "
Too soon... 
Posted by Vorbis
@RecSpec:  Bayonetta.
Posted by pbhawks45
@fedorajay said:
" @fentonalpha said:
" @pbhawks45 said:
" @Cramsy said:
" Jeff, you're fired. "
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA NOBODY HAS EVER MADE THAT JOKE EVER MAN GOOD ONE "
  I grow tired of GB's jaded pissed off attitude. "
It's users like   pbhawks45  that are ruining the community. All caps, no substance and just trying to get attention. This site isn't as bad as others, like Kotaku, but the trolls and retarded comments are getting more visible here.  "
What's ruining the community are the droves of people who beat jokes into ground. Yeah, we get it: Jeff was fired after the K&L review. Is it really necessary to bring it up in EVERY SINGLE K&L trailer, preview, review, video on the site? God no. I brought attention to myself to bring attention to this BS and the endless "OMG WHEN'S THE NEXT ENDURANCE RUN!!!!11111" threads that pop up on a daily basis.
Posted by RecSpec
@Vorbis said:
" @RecSpec:  Bayonetta. "
Ah that's right. Thanks a ton.
Posted by TheHBK

THe review wont change because patches shouldnt affect it.  Yes, I know most of us are connected to the internet but what you get sold on disc is what gets reviewed since that is what everyone starts with.  Though not the same, you dont change the score of a game if DLC makes it better. (additional quests or items added)

Posted by Trnck

Even Better.

Posted by thai_jedi
@DrDoctor said:
" This is the most meta video review I have ever watched. Excellent job guys. "
Getting your meta game review on!
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