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For those of you who don't know about Kane and Lynch, it's a third person shooter with an over the shoulder perspective. Kane is a retired mercenary trying to get out of the game and back to his estranged daughter while Lynch is a psychopath that's picking up whatever mercenary work that he can.
This is another review where I really wish I could just have a thumb just pointing out to the side. I bounced back and forth between a thumbs up and a thumbs down a few times. If you want the five second review, it will be a fun rental. The price is the main issue at the moment because this game just doesn't demand full price.
If you do choose to buy or rent it, then note that I have a full Kane and Lynch 2 walkthrough available if you need help.
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It's actually quite well done. There have been some complaints about accuracy, but I personally didn't mind it. The early weapons you use are all poorly made shotguns and SMGs. The police and military stuff that you pick up over time is much more accurate. Regardless, not having pinpoint accuracy keeps it from being a simple sniping game. You usually have to move up and flank enemies for easy kills.
There aren't too many weapons. There are pistols, SMGs, shotguns and assault rifle. There are also a few real rifles but they aren't that useful for actual combat. The downside is that there isn't a good difference between them. They all operate the same, except the police and military stuff is better.
The cover system is pretty good. There's a nice touch that the enemies will try to hit anything that's exposed, unlike most games where you're always protected as long as a couch is in front. For example, staying at the edge of a car leaves you open to stray shots around the edge and over the hood. It leaves you feeling very exposed and works well for the overall game.
As for the actual shooting, it works pretty well. You can use blindfire and aim from cover to take out enemies. You can also throw fire extinguisher and gas tanks at enemies and then shoot them to make improvised grenades. The controls for this all worked quite smoothly on the PC. I had been worried about the sluggish aiming in the demo, but it's not in the final product.
The enemies are fairly generic. There are gang members, cops, armored cops/secret police and soldiers. It gets fairly repetitive at the end, since the last few levels are just grinds through the armored cops and soldiers, but it makes for a few intense firefights.
Overall the gameplay is really fun. It's hard to really explain it, but the levels and the firefights are really engrossing. If you let it, the game will really suck you in and keep your focus.
Unfortunately, it's about 3 and a half hours long for experience players. It took me a little over 4 hours to beat it. Note that that includes a few unfair deaths (getting ambushed or shot clean in the face twice with blindfire). The load screen are also really long. It takes at least a minute or two to load the next chapter too. If you just want to get it for the single player or co-op campaign, then you'll want to get it as a rental.
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Style and Story
Kane and Lynch 2 has a fairly unique style. They aren't just trying to do a "gritty" technique. The entire game is shot to look like a camera phone video that someone posted on YouTube. They even use a little "Buffering" circle for the loading screens. There are artifacts that show up on the screen during the game. The frame rate on the in-game camera freezes and stutters if there's a bright explosion. Blood drops cloud up the screen when you're shot and things like raindrops blur the view. There's also the fairly famous shaky cam feature that takes over as you run (if it makes you feel sick you can turn it off). It's a really nice effect overall. It sounds pretty gimicky overall, but it doesn't come across as it during gameplay. I also like that they stuck with it for the whole game. Even the cutscenes treat the camera as an object (it gets covered up at one point by a soldier).
The story is pretty basic. There's an arms deal and it goes bad and they have to get out by the skin of their teeth. There have been some complaints that the ending was a little abrupt. It does feel a little off considering the general flow of the game, but I'm not sure where else the story would have gone. It could use an epilogue or a little more closure, but it didn't feel that off to me.
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Single Player - Arcade
I need a little filler, so I'll take a quick look at Arcade while I'm at it. It's just Fragile Alliance except you're playing with bots. There's a life mechanic in place. You have three lives and your goal is to survive for as many rounds as possible. I didn't see the bots betraying much, but it's at least something. The problem is that the maps are pretty boring if you just play through them. A team of bots on your side pretty much walks right over any police they throw at you.
It's a nice feature though and I'm glad that they included it.
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Multiplayer - Modes
Fragile Alliance is the same as before. You need to shoot your way past a few cops, grab the loot and then fight your way to the getaway vehicle. It's actually interesting because you get money from two sources. The total heist is split between all of the people that successfully escape. The controls are pretty good overall and the maps themselves are fairly interesting. I had fun with the actual gameplay overall.
Of course, you can become a traitor. A traitor is immediately marked as orange and will no longer be a part of the group. Just shooting someone without killing them nets you a yellow card. The team can kill you without penalty but you aren't a real traitor yet. It's good for accidents and preventing griefing, since players can just wound someone and let the AI cops finish them off. Even if he escapes with someone, he will not share with them. The traitor can either just start shooting and pick up the money off of their body or he can grab another criminal as a human shield to slowly rob them until they break away. Breaking away just means that they end up on the ground, so unless they get lucky with their shots from the ground, it's pretty much over for them.
This makes Fragile Alliance pretty interesting. It can just be a normal run. You work together, shoot your way to the van or helicopter and then take off and gain a lot of points toward your rank (which unlocks new weapons you can buy with the money). You can also have a round where everyone betrays one another. Even the escape vehicle isn't that safe. The first person in can either hold it for a struggling teammate, or spilt half their spare with the driver/pilot and turn traitor at the last minute. If they stay too long though, the cops can blow it up.
Note that if you are killed by the NPCs or by a traitor, you become a cop for one more life in the round. Traitors don't get a respawn. As a cop, you'll earn money for killing your old teammates and gathering the loot that they drop (which you get a 10% finders fee for). It's a nice twist and it actually makes betrayal a tough choice. Betraying people early means that you'll definitely face at least one intelligent enemy as you try to make it to the escape vehicle. Two or more can actually destroy the escape vehicle and either kill the criminals inside or strand the criminals at the scene.
Undercover Cop is a new one. It's basically the same as Fragile Alliance. The difference is that one of the criminals is actually an undercover cop. Their mission is to keep the criminals from escaping the level. They are able to betray people without being marked. It's basically all about stealth. It's a neat concept and really spices up the game...I assume. I tried for the past three days to find a game and just couldn't. I did have a lobby with seven peopel at one point, but the host got tired of waiting for an eighth and just closed it. I guess it's also not too well thought out, since any halfway intelligent team will just stick together. It would take god-like skills to outshoot an entire team. There are no natural obstacles to split people up either, so while it's a neat mode, it probably isn't going to play out that well most of the time.
Cops and Robbers is just standard payload gameplay. The robbers need to pick up the loot as usual, but they have to face a team of human controlled cops who try to stop them. I'd say that it's pretty standard multiplayer stuff.
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Kane and Lynch 2 Review - Multiplayer Technical Issues
Let's start with the interface. It's pretty rough. It's mainly quick match, unless you just know of a custom match you can join. The first annoyance is something that they still haven't fixed from the demo. The default voice setting is that it turns on when you speak into it. This means that new players or clueless players will often constantly project the sound of a fan or their TV or random coughing and noises. That's just delightful.
It takes awhile too. You have to connect to a game, wait at least a minute for it to load and then wait for a bit when it closes. I note the closing time because expect a lot of games to be false starts. It's the joys of non-dedicated servers. There's also no host migration, so if the host quits then the game closes.
Note that the host also often has a huge advantage. If there's a noticeable ping difference, then they can basically teleport around and out maneuver most people. This means that if the host turns traitor he has a big advantage. Of course if you do kill them, then they just quit and end the game. This also means that all the points you earned toward your rank vanish. Note that even just betraying the host can cause a rage quit, which ends the game and quicks you back out to the wasteland.
Technical issues aside, there just aren't many people playing. It's truly a borderline miracles when I can jump into a lobby and watch it fill quickly. I regularly have it search for non-rank matches with the parameters set to all games...and I'll get a "no games match your requirements" answer. Note that I'm even playing this at primetime, not at 2 in the morning or some weird time. There just don't seem to be many people on at any time.
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Kane and Lynch 2 - Multiplayer Review
When you finally get a game, you still have problems with the modes in execution. As I mentioned, undercover cop is going to be hard since there's no reason for the people to split up. This also plagues Fragile Alliance. Some of the maps just aren't made for it. Airport, for example, only allows betrayals for a very brief run down a linear path to the roof. In general, the only time to really betray someone is after half the team gets away. While you're waiting for the next van, you can usually betray someone lagging behind and get away before they have time to come back as a cop and betray you. Betrayals at any other time usually just result in the whole team turning around and gunning you down or a few cops blocking you from making it to the getaway point.
Worse, idiots can really mess it up quick. I don't mind being betrayed or having my betrayals fail. Seeing two people randomly shoot half the team in the midpoint of the level isn't fun though. They weren't criminal masterminds or even griefers. They were just idiots who didn't realize that they wouldn't have time to escape if four of their angry ex-teammates camped the helicopter and kept them pinned down. Betrayals can be awesome game changers, but half the time it's just some idiot killing a teammate and then getting wasted themselves. I guess this has happened a fair bit with people betraying as soon as possible in a misguided search for revenege, which only leaves the team crippled for the rest of the round.
The maps are boring. There are nine maps but only six are available if you don't have the preorder codes and don't want to wait for the new DLC to unlock them. They are also pretty boring. As I said, there are only a few real points where betrayals are logical and far too many of them can be beaten by just sprinting to the escape vehicle and jumping onto it. This is even true for the cops that are supposed to stop you. The only time I saw them get kills was when teammates literally ran into them and got shot in the face. Otherwise they might as well not even be there.
The one good note is that I absolutely love the getaway mechanic and wish other games would use it when escaping an area or transitioning in an area (Playing 10 vs. 10 Left 4 Dead 2 put ths on my mind recently too). If you miss the first getaway vehicle, then you just get left behind for a few more seconds until the next one comes. The team isn't penalized because one guy couldn't stick with the group and make it out. A long series of escape options are presented, so you don't have to worry about splitting up or being sitting ducks in the escape zone while the last one limps up the ramp.
The rounds are also short and usually on a tight time limit, which is nice and keeps the game short and active.
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This one isn't rated because I couldn't personally play it. None of my friends picked up a copy so I have to extrapolate what it offers. Apparently the interface for it all is pretty rough. You can't just see that a friend is playing and join his game. It just works like multiplayer. You form a lobby together and pick a level to play.
It just seems a little odd since co-op should be one of the major selling points for it. What really struck me was that there aren't many true "co-op" moments. There are a few points where you can take different sides of the level to flank enemies or seize it quickly, but it's not really a different experience. I believe the original one had the fairly well known bank robbery, where whoever played as Lynch got to work through a psychotic episode blasting unarmed "cops" (they're really hostages) until Lynch made it up. There just aren't really any moments like that in the game. So I don't think that co-op would have any gems like that to offer.
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I already covered the style, but the graphics are pretty nice. The animations are fluid and while it may not look that "pretty" while you play it, some of the screenshots I've taken look pretty awesome. It's not really anything that I'd write home about, but the graphics and the style are quite well done.
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Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days Review - Conclusion
Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is a very average game. The campaign is pretty fun and fans of cover-based shooters will probably enjoy the single player. The style is also well done and it really grows on you while you're playing it. I don't regret my time spent playing it. But it is just too short for its price tag. There's not any real replayability to the single player campaign.
If you got a friend who wants to play co-op, then you'll have a good time with that. If you also have a dedicated group of people, then I'm sure that you can have a lot of fun with private matches that don't include ridiculous host advantages or rage quits. That's probably a pretty small group though and it doesn't seem like the community for Kane and Lynch 2 will last that long.
It's worth a rental. That's about it. Otherwise wait for it to go on sale and pick it up for whatever you feel comfortable with for four hours of solid gameplay. If the multiplayer worked better, then it might just be worth it. Otherwise this game just isn't worth the money.