mrmcjerk's Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (PlayStation 3) review

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Nasty, Brutish, and Short.

A juxtaposition of contemporary aesthetic and medieval thought, KL2 is the most memorable game I've ever played, and is definitely one of the most well-realized games of this generation.

Years after the conclusion of the first Kane and Lynch, James Lynch has settled in Shanghai and is working as low-level muscle in a gang of western expatriates. When the opportunity to make money and move up in the hierarchy arises, Lynch gets in touch with the estranged Adam Kane, who has the requisite skills and contacts to help Lynch. The two haven't spoken since the previous game, and the tension is palpable. A couple of small jobs need to be taken care of before the big deal happens, and that's when everything gets muddled.

The perspective set in the game is one of a horrible, messy hangover. Over-saturated colors permeate the cellphone camera recording your movements. Pixels and jagged edges intentionally pop up, then fade out as the auto-zoom refocuses. Everything is shaky and nightmarish, like getting mugged. It is completely unforgettable.

Even the little graphical touches reinforce the sense of realistic desperation. Neither Kane nor Lynch are neckless power-armored protagonists - they're two fat, over-the-hill gangsters trying to survive a younger man's game. Kane's well-worn suit needs to be dry-cleaned; Lynch's wife beater needs to be thrown out. It's receding hairlines and poorly-set broken noses. It's pock-marked faces of desperate, beaten down men. It's what you expect in this part of town. After a brief stint with no clothes, the duo find new threads - with emphasis on the found. Hawaiian shirts and sweatpants, like rolling out of bed the morning after 14 vodka-and-redbulls and realizing your clothes are laying, vomit soaked, in the parking lot.

There's no score, no music, no chimes to alert you to anything. Horrible chinese pop blares out of car stereos and commercials drone on from electronics stores. Kane shouts battle tactics while Lynch counts to ten, quelling the demons in his head. At best, indifferent Chinese SWAT teams yell at you in Mandarin to get down and surrender. At worst, the rest of your expat gang absolutely hates you, and lets you know it.

In part one of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, we are introduced to the three conflicts of man - greed, fear, and glory. KL2 is rife with these ideas. Kane's greed - he needs the money to win his daughter's love (showing he's learned nothing from the first game). Lynch's fear of losing his girlfriend and, by association, his tenuous grasp on his sanity. The glory they both crave, Lynch wanting to succeed in his new boss's gang, Kane wanting to show his daughter that he's a worthy father.

If only they had read further into Leviathan. That for man, "life is nasty, brutish, and short." The 48 hours that KL2 takes its course through are these three things, with an abrupt ending that perfectly encapsulates the game. The 5-6 hour campaign is curse-laden and heavy handed. Make no mistake, it is very short. But there's no unnecessary padding - no fetch quests, weapon upgrades, or backtracking to the hub city to buy stims.

Multiplayer adds Fragile Alliance, a hybrid play mode introduced in Dead Men and improved substantially in Dog Days. Your crew robs various locations and battles local police forces or other gangs to escape, with the caveat that you (or any of your crew members) can turn traitor to increase their share of the loot. A warning system was added since KL1, reducing the number of accidental traitors.

A weighty, adult storyline. Interesting characters with vastly more personality then most games' protagonists. This game is completely unforgettable.

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