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Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days Review (Xbox 360)

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Sequels generally attempt to move their respective series or franchise forward in a positive direction even if the overall product remains weaker than what came before it. In such cases, this is usually done through the inclusion of new features or gameplay mechanics, which while they may or may not work in the grand scheme of things, still show a basic willingness to expand the existing formula and at least try to move things forward in a positive direction.

Unfortunately Kane And Lynch 2 eschews the above and instead presents us with an experience that not only fails to address anything that was wrong with the original title, but bafflingly regresses far enough past its mediocre predecessor to be considered completely unnecessary and out-dated.

In the same vein as its predecessor, K&L 2 is a third person cover shooter. That’s it. It’s a Tesco Value cover shooter with a three hour single-player gamespan and one that hopes to sustain your interest with its overwrought and poorly executed video nasty stylings.

Gone are the mildly interesting and inspired Heat esque heist sequences and buddy drama plot points from the first game and in its place is a pithy narrative which involves the medicated psychopath Lynch settling down in Shanghai with his ‘girlfriend’ whilst being involved in a large scale criminal deal with his newly arrived friend Kane.

Just as predictably, it all falls to pieces pretty quickly and whatever dialogue that previously gave the player any kind of connection to the tenuous-at-best storyline, is quickly overwhelmed by repeated F-Bomb carpet-bombings and other banal thug vernacular whose only prime requisite being that each sentence must have at least one instance of profanity contained within it.

At least in the original game, where the player took the role of Kane, the unbalanced Lynch seemed like a truly unstable AI personality; he would take bank workers hostage in a bank heist and then just start shooting people and screaming because he ran out meds. As the main character In Dog Days, he is reduced to a groan worthy depressive caricature of his former self; sorely lacking the volatile explosiveness that made him so entertaining in the first game while Kane just tags along shooting and swearing at things.

In addition to suffering immeasurably from the weight of the clumsy and school-boy level dialogue that has been cast across its narrow shoulders, the narrative itself is just completely devoid of emotional investment; instead playing up it’s ‘You-Tube chaser’ and video nasty aesthetics without a care in the world for anything remotely resembling a coherent story or anything even approaching a satisfying conclusion.

And there are just guns. That’s it. Just guns. Automatic or single-shot. There are no grenades, rocket launchers or even melee attacks of any kind. There isn’t even any body armour or other such protective considerations. Nope, cover is your only friend and you better get used to it since you both be spending an awful lot of time together.

While not truly a terrible game, the original Kane & Lynch did have a large number of flaws which nonetheless kept it chained to the altar of cover shooter mediocrity. Kane & Lynch 2 does nothing to rectify anything that went awry with the first game. Enemies are as dumb as a bag of rocks; either pressing toward you in a gleefully suicidal bid to end their uninspiring lives or they shuffle uncontrollably around cover, never seeming sure if they should be in cover or not.

Additionally, the lack of ‘oomph’ attributed to the guns and by proxy the impact that they create remains as lacklustre as before. Indeed, the only indicators which give you any idea that you have just offed a generic, gangland or Special Forces foe, are the poor ragdoll physics and the flickering of your crosshairs to a cross.

Multiplayer, like the previous title however, remains an intriguing, if notably shallow curiosity. The Fragile Alliance game mode makes a return and brings to the table two new modes in the imaginatively titled Undercover Cop and Cops & Robbers modes.

Like the first game, Fragile Alliance still has a small collection of players trying to put their hands on as much money as they can while eluding the fuzz and possible traitors from within their midst. Undercover Cop follows a similar blueprint with the sole difference a randomly chosen player takes the role of an undercover cop and must prevent the team from escaping. Cops & Robbers makes another marginal change to the original formula by having a group of player controlled police officers fighting against the criminals who plan to escape with the cash. New weapons may also be bought at the end of each match but really do little to change or further the multiplayer experience that has largely been brought over wholesale from the previous game.

Ultimately like most video nasties, when you get past the initial shock value the content is vapid and uninspiring, with any queasiness long since subsiding to the fact that you just wasted ninety minutes of your life watching a load of dross. Controversial though such video nasties may be, you at least felt like you were watching something cult and cool at the time because it was denied to you by the ratings board, here, older and hopefully wiser, we can all see this for what it is – a cynical attempt to cloak a terrible, terrible game in a shell that would hope to elicit the very same curiosity that we experienced in our less wiser years.

Good thing we’ve all moved on eh?

Kane and Lynch may be having their Dog Days, but developer IO Interactive’s output has certainly seen better ones.

Overall Score: 4.0

Written by bitsnark

November 2, 2010 at 11:06 am

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