Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is a symphony of foul language, guns, and gangster violence. Unfortunately, it’s largely a one-note symphony composed with tubas and cymbals.
Kane and Lynch 2 looks good and definitely holds promise early on. The graphics and overall visual style do a good job of drawing you into its gritty Shanghai underworld. The game employs a ‘shaky cam’ style of ‘filming’ that helps convey the gritty, chaotic urgency in the game.
And the action also starts promisingly. In the beginning, the gun fights are reasonably fun and provide large environments, plenty of cover, and no shortage of machine guns, shotguns, and other weapons to experiment with.
The beginning is the end
But where the game ultimately stumbles is that the action at the beginning of the game is pretty much exactly the same as what you get at the end of the game, and everywhere in between. While this tightens and focuses the game play, it just isn’t interesting enough to hold up to 6-8 hours of single player play.
Although you’ll face more enemies as you progress, the fundamental duck- cover- clear-the-room-of-enemies formula never changes. Sure, a frenetic, violent attempt to escape Shanghai sounds good on paper, and might make a good 90-minute action movie, but the game’s lack of pacing and variety ultimately make it more tedious in later levels than the white-knuckle ride it’s intended to be.
Enemies aren’t smart–they just cheat
Worse still, although the enemies are reasonably smart and move from cover to cover in an attempt to flank you, they aren’t hard to beat because they’re smart. What makes them deadly is that they can shoot you in the face from virtually any distance with asinine accuracy, even if you only briefly emerge from cover.
Adding to this problem is that all the weapons in the game are weak and underpowered. It takes nearly an entire clip of ammo from most of the game’s many guns to bring down just about anyone, from Uzi-toting, unarmored street punks to body-armor-wearing military operatives. We had to shoot one guy in the face twice to bring him down. And if you aim for center mass, expect to spray a lot of lead before dropping anyone.
The combination of poor pacing, ‘cheating’ enemies, and what becomes tedious gun play ultimately kills the game’s ability to generate ‘watercooler moments’. Instead of kicking in a door, smashing a guy with a rifle butt, hosing down a couple guys with a machine gun and then vaulting for cover, your stories would be something more like this:
“Yeah, then I hid behind a counter, and I shot that guy with a machine gun. And then I moved to another counter and I did it again.“
And that’s pretty much the entire story for the single-player game, from start to finish. What little variety that is introduced — strafing with a machine gun from a helicopter, for example — is too little and too late into the game, and even that segment is weak, consisting of the same duck-and-cover mechanics — except now you’re in a helicopter.
What about Multiplayer?
Truth be told, at least on the PC, we just didn’t have much luck scaring up a multiplayer game. Kane and Lynch 2 does sport some interesting multiplayer game modes, including 2-player co-op and some versus-style games. However, the game does not support dedicated servers, which can potentially introduce its own problems both for setting up and connecting to games.
The more interesting multiplayer modes include Fragile Alliance, where teamwork is required to get the loot and get out — but as you escape each level increases in difficulty, and the alliance begins to break as greed gets the best of everyone. Undercover Cop adds a tweak to this mode by randomly selecting one of the gang members to be an undercover cop — it’s their job to stop the heist from the inside. And Cops and Robbers pits a team of cops against a team of criminals in a simple team deathmatch-style shootout.
And while there is some fun to be had, playing 2-player co-op will likely add little to the overall experience of the story mode, and multiplayer play – at least on the PC — is almost certain not to draw anyone away from their Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, or Starcraft 2 anytime soon.
Although Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is wrapped in some good visuals and starts promisingly, the game play eventually wears out its welcome, and the multiplayer play is unlikely to draw too many players from stronger fare.
Almost ironically, right near the very end of the game, Lynch (whom you play through most of the game) utters “Doesn’t this ever end?”
That was pretty much our sentiment, too.