Giant Bomb Review

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Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days Review

3
  • PS3

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.


 Kane's calling this his last job.
 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 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. 
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+

245 Comments

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Grissefar

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Edited By Grissefar

 Good review, Jeff.
 
Edit: Dang it, I called 4 stars. I'm more satisfied with 3 stars though, because I did not care for the demo.
 
Edit 2: I would like to dedicate my first in this historic article to this wonderful piece of art created by Randiolo:
 

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Yummylee

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Edited By Yummylee

Aaaaw =( Four hours long??? That was...unexpected.

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1p

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Edited By 1p

oh god

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SilentCommando

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Edited By SilentCommando

Nice review.

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flaminghobo

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Edited By flaminghobo

I called it!
Three stars!

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VWGTI

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Edited By VWGTI

Ladies and gentlemen, we have now officially come full circle.

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zombie2011

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Edited By zombie2011

Ah, this game looked awesome. However i don't want to spend $60 on a short game.

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borodin

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Edited By borodin

Wow under 4 hours? :S

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jeffk38uk

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Edited By jeffk38uk

Hmm, surprised at the short length, figured it would be at least on par with the original K&L. At least the combat itself works fine and the story still intrigues me but a shame its nothing more than that. Will check it out when it gets cheaper I suppose.

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Scrumdidlyumptious

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I imagine a lot of people are probably not even going to read this and are just going to look at the score of this review and assume it's as bad as the first game

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mylifeforAiur

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Edited By mylifeforAiur
@Abyssfull said:
" Aaaaw =( Four hours long??? That was...unexpected. "
Damn, games are too short nowadays ;(
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gosukiller

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Edited By gosukiller

INB4 "You're fired." jokes.

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Mrskidders

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Edited By Mrskidders

Inb4 the shitstorm.  I can't believe they only squeezed 4 hours out of the single player.  I have played budget titles that have lasted longer.  Not for me im afraid.  Great review.

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Cirdain

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Edited By Cirdain

3 stars. 
 
Well, the demo ran well on my PC and I found the shooting to but fun, same as Jeff. So I guess I'll be playing the single player on hard or somin' to elongate (Dunno if I splet that right) it a bit.

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1p

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Edited By 1p

When's the video review coming?

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dsd21

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Edited By dsd21

Only 3 stars? Jeff, we need to have a talk.

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NekuSakuraba

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Edited By NekuSakuraba

Well, at least it's decent...I suppose.

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Vorbis

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Edited By Vorbis

Seems Jeff isn't alone, others are mirroring the same. It's a shame and I really can't believe a 4hour campaign is acceptable for a $60 game.

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gearhead

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Edited By gearhead

If you read it backwards, it tells you how he got fired.

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scarace360

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Edited By scarace360

o man i was so pumped for this BUT UNDER 4 HOURS. WHAT IS THIS WANTED!

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Mr_Skeleton

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Edited By Mr_Skeleton

Four hours long campaign seem way to short.

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virtorio

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Edited By virtorio

Damn, if it were longer I probably would have brought a copy.

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zaglis

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Edited By zaglis

4 hrs? What? WHAT? I thought IO listened to ALL  negative feedback.
 
And the MP demo (on PC) was terrible. 
Good luck, IO. You gonna need it.

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Overwatch

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Edited By Overwatch

Hope there will be video review. With some ECKO shirt :)

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diz

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Edited By diz

Jeff - You're fired! 
 
Now go start up another awesome games website.
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TheMoD

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Edited By TheMoD

Great review! :) I'm very disappointed with the games' length, but I'm still gonna get it on pc...
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Death_Burnout

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Edited By Death_Burnout

Extremely useful review!
 
4 hours seems ridiculous, its more like Ao2 than ever, save file issues and all...or just. y'know, Wanted.
 
Still! i was tempted but i know to stay away for a while, the multiplayer is the only thing i'd be interested in now i guess. But even that is flat.

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Rhaknar

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Edited By Rhaknar

DAMn thats a short game.
 
Also, Jeff has to fire himself now for this low review, clearly

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Mysterion

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Edited By Mysterion

Called 3 stars
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Bluethunder35

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Edited By Bluethunder35

Well, this is the first review and it's very good. Let's see how the others turn out. 
 
Maybe I'll buy this one when it's in the bargain bin. There's not enough single-player game for the price.

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Nemesis274

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Edited By Nemesis274

Jeff! HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING ABOUT YOUR LAST REVIEW OF KANE AND LYNCH?  Oh wait, if you hadn't then GiantBomb wouldn't exist now won't it? Still, I love your text review, Jeff. Enough said!

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Darkstar614

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Edited By Darkstar614

"...It took me a little under four hours to get through the story mode."
 
Haha. Not even close to $60 for this one.

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supercubedude

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Edited By supercubedude

Fired.

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Hitchenson

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Edited By Hitchenson

That's pretty short. Had little-to-no interest in the game anyway, so this news doesn't mean much to me overly.

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Gav47

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Edited By Gav47

I'll wait for it to go on sale on Steam, the Undercover Cop mode sounds really cool.

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rolento

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Edited By rolento

I'm getting seriously tired of these ludicrously short games.  I guess after everybody and their mom was willing to pay $60 for Modern Warfare 2 and its five hour campaign, more and more developers and publishers feel like they can get away with it. 
 
I'll be taking a pass, just as I did with MW2.

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Trnck

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Edited By Trnck

What the hell, someone call that Giantbomb site and get the reviewer fired NAO. 
 
6.0 BOOM! 
 
It's an ugly, ugly game.
 
Come on, guys, we need more awful jokes, quick pump something out!

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skrutop

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Edited By skrutop

3 stars, eh?  That's, what, a 6.0?

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ChocolateCoffin

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Edited By ChocolateCoffin

You're fired.

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TromboneTony

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Edited By TromboneTony

Less than 4 hours is unacceptable for a $60 game. Pass.

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cobble75

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Edited By cobble75

I really didnt enjoy the demo.
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Godlovesugly

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Edited By Godlovesugly

I'm getting this game free with a £30 magazine subscription, even that doesn't stop me from being a little disappointed at the game's length. I guess I'll see if I care when the game gets here. 
 As always good review Jeff.

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StrikerTheLizard

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Edited By StrikerTheLizard

Only 3 stars? That's 50%, Gerstmann. 
 
Pack your shit.

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Ramyun

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Edited By Ramyun

Man I thought this was going to be a really awesome game...but dude.....4 hours, including a pretty spartan multiplayer?

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artofwar420

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Edited By artofwar420

The demo looked amazing, as I'm sure the full game does, but the gameplay left a lot to be desired.

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armaan8014

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Edited By armaan8014

lol

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Nux

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Edited By Nux

Sorry Jeff you will be missed. 
 
When you think of it, if not for the first game then this awsome site might have never happend.
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golguin

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Edited By golguin

Hopefully there will be some spoof video review with Jeff where halfway through Ryan comes onscreen with some security dudes and escorts him out of the office.

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KillyDarko

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Edited By KillyDarko

I'm sick and tired of developers trying to force short campaigns unto players. I won't buy a game to be done with it in 4 or 5h, dammit!

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Atom

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Edited By Atom

Agreed.  
 
The demo felt mediocre, even if it did look good