This has definitely got me stumped. I’ve just finished my second play-through of the single player story of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days and I’m still torn on what score to give it. Part of me wants to like this so much, it really does, but like my fears mentioned in the preview a few weeks ago I’m left rather dissatisfied with the game.
The game puts you in the role of self-medicated psycho, Lynch, after bringing Kane over to Shanghai, China for a business deal, things soon go down-hill from there. After chasing a contact through a busy block of flats and then across the rooftops and streets of Shanghai, Kane accidently shoots the contact’s female companion.
Little do you know this isn’t any old female but rather the daughter of “crooked businessman,” (read mobster), Shangsi. The troublesome twosome must now fight a huge array of hired guns ranging from the basic local gangs all the way through to the Shanghai police and also the country’s army, just proof that knowing the right contacts can buy you anything.
As you can imagine the different types of men come with an impressive arsenal of weaponry and armour making the game evolve in difficulty as the action deepens. Thankfully, my worry about being a one man wrecking crew in the preview has been laid to rest with health presenting a much more realistic affair, taking a couple of shots will splatter the screen with blood and if you’re still adamant on mowing forward a couple more shots will put you on the floor. From there you can crawl to safety, fire from the spot, or pick yourself back up on the spot, but believe me the latter option will soon see yourself face down as you bleed to death.
For this game using cover to your advantage is pivotal to succeed and thankfully IO Interactive has created a near flawless cover system. Sometimes Kane will try to take cover in exactly the same spot but give it a couple of seconds and then he will move to the next available piece of cover, then again he shouldn’t worry about incoming fire as he can’t die in-game.
While a lot of the firefights will be aimed at you and your opponents expect the odd stray bullet to spray around the environment and destroy the inanimate objects on each level. One of the later levels sees you in a skyscraper searching for Shangsi and if you shoot out the windows you will see the blinds fluttering in the air due to the wind. Touches like this are a nice addition and really give you the impression of the devastation of a close-ranged gun fight.
There are six types of weapons to wreak havoc with, including bog standard pistols, sub-machine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, light machine-guns and my personal favourite the semi-automatic shotgun. For each category there is normally two variations of weapons and the accuracy, fire rate and magazine size can vary for each model. S.W.A.T members carry silenced weapons while Shanghai police can vary from carrying stubbed-nosed revolvers to assault rifles
However, despite being able to carry any two weapons at a set time, each level predetermines and makes you feel obliged to use a certain selection. Picking up ammo for a selected weapon is as simple as walking up to downed enemy and then pressing the X button to regain a proportionate amount of ammo for the said weapon.
As I detailed in the preview, the white Xs mark where you have hit an opponent and it’s a positive feature for me. Knowing where I’m hitting a enemy and then seeing the resulting animation is extremely satisfying and nothing ever beats firing off a round from my shotgun and then seeing a close range splatter of Xs across the body before it slumps to the ground.
It’s not always that free-flowing though as I encountered a few glitches along the way. Clipping issues for some bodies seem to arise resulting in people falling halfway into the wall. Other niggling issues I saw throughout the story mode included a policeman standing in the same position motionless until I walked up and then executed via his head. Hey I’m a man on a mission I’m not going to leave anyone standing.
NPCs can also stand in the middle of a full blown firefight, this truly showcases the highs and lows of Kane & Lynch 2, while most members of the public will run for their lives creating a real sense of panic and ramping up the tension in the opening moments of a stand-off it can all be ruined by one person standing in the middle seemingly unaware of what is about to kick off.
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It doesn’t help with the rather lacklustre and confusing storyline. Sure you understand that Shangsi wants vengeance for his late daughter’s death after the first mission but after that we are left with a disjointed and rather muddled storyline. A small cut-scene opens each level but doiesn’t explain what is happening. As each mission loads you are shown a couple of pictures of the levels location as well as some dialogue with Lynch who is meant to explain what each mission is about but really you are still left with so many unanswered questions. Oh and the ending…it’ll leave you thinking What The Fuck?
Missions are quite repetitive, despite being located in a variety of locations the majority are run, gun and take cover as you make your way from point A to point B. Despite the repetitiveness the action is non-stop and for those who want to waste a couple of hours relinquishing all that built up stress on a few hundred Shanghai hired guns then this will be right up your street.
There were some highlights throughout the story mode though. My favourite mission saw you in a helicopter with a light-machine gun as you launch an attack on an office building; after running through the countless streets it was a refreshing element to the game and makes you wonder why the developers didn’t add more variation to action and gameplay such as this. The most bizarre mission included being held captive and having to escape, doesn’t sound too bad does it? Well you then subsequently had to run naked around the streets of Shanghai. However, before you wonder whether the full extent of nakedness was on show, the game’s camera engine fuzzed out that third leg.  
The much-documented Youtube-esque camera is one of those Marmite additions to the game. You’re either going to love it or hate it. For me it was the latter, the film grain and light glare that graced the screen at times was over powering and the movement bobbing made me feel sick with motion sickness. Thankfully sprinting is the only way of triggering this camera bob and you rarely do this as you are normally in the thick of the action.
Then comes the mentioned blurring out of items in the game. With a game that carries a 18 certificate, shows people being tortured, features more swearing than Jerry Springer The Musical and racial remarks on the Chinese that would make Roy Chubby Brown proud, why blur our headshots and nakedness? Especially when a pool of blood flows freely from the head wound on to the floor.
I think the multiplayer is the main aspect for this game and having to play the game before it launches, finding an online server to try out the modes was impossible. The game also offers co-op online and local campaign mode, Square Enix has assured me this is a better experience so I’ll have to try that out over the next week.  As more people pick up the game I’m going to give the multiplayer modes a whirl and produce a separate multiplayer review. Hopefully playing with other people can justify the purchase on launch day.
Overall, I’m left disappointed, IO Interactive promised so much with Kane & Lynch 2 but when push came to shove they failed to deliver on numerous levels. Dynamic story telling is missing and the lack of direction leaves you confused from start to finish. Don’t get me wrong there is a decent third person shooter to play here but don’t expect to care much for characters and see anything relatively groundbreaking for the genre. What I’m left with is a “been-there done-that” feeling within the game with the exception of a camera that will prove more a nauseating experience than a boat ride on a choppy sea. 

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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