Recently I was invited to check out the latest build of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days for the Xbox 360, though it'll also be available on the PS3 and PC. We've been through it before, you know the storied past of the previous game, so lets move right on. As we've been telling you for months the game has adapted this unique visual style which has been compared to something you'll see on YouTube. While this may be a fair comparison, it doesn't do the game justice once you see it in action.
As games attempt to look more and more realistic, they are getting dangerously close to the uncanny valley. Mass Effect 2, Heavy Rain, and others all look amazing, but because of their approach to realism - it's that much easier to tell when something just doesn't quite look right. In Kane and Lynch 2 the contrast is bumped up, the colors are desaturated and given a grayish-pink hue, and video style artifacts are present throughout the game world. Because of this, if you sit back and just look at the game, it really does look like you're watching a gritty action movie. Most character animations are smooth, lighting is bright and vivid, and the world of the back streets of Shanghai come to life thanks to an improved version of the original engine powering Kane and Lynch.
Our play through started in a restaurant as we were under attack but police, we were quickly thrown into action as Lynch yelled some profanities as the cops kicked in the door. The cover system has been revamped, you can enter and exit cover by pressing the A button, something you'll be accustomed to doing in games like Gears of War. The action is loud, chaotic, but controlled - and the AI I encountered was pretty ruthless. The game was quick to kick my ass as I hid it cover picking off individual enemies, I waited too long, and the police team flanked me and my partner in no time. An interesting mechanic to the game is the knockdown mechanic that's a bit similar to Borderlands' second chance self revival system. After taking a bit of damage you'll be knocked to the floor where you can continue to shoot, or you can rapidly tap A to get up. Getting up lets you continue the fight, but if you take another hit while knocked down, you'll be killed. So the trade-off is try to get up quickly or try to take out the person that knocked you down. In co-op it's slightly different as you'll need to continue to press X to stop a meter from falling until your buddy can get to you to revive, if both players get knocked out it's game over.
As the battle through the restaurant raged on, the bodies and weapons began to fly. The game is pretty lax in terms of weapon and ammo conservation, and you'll find yourself going through it pretty quickly. Pressing up on the D-pad will show the locations of all the weapons in your area, giving you some strategy to your attack plan. Our restaurant battle spilled out to the streets of Shanghai as pedestrians quickly screamed and ran in fear, cops pulled up for reinforcement, and our duo needed to spread out to make their way down to the end of the street. As we worked our way down the street using cars and storefronts for cover, I came to realize just how much tighter the controls were for aiming. There's a visceral feeling when shooting bad guys, you know when your shots connect partially due to the video artifacts the game creates. There's clever little touches all around with the use of the video artifacts, for instance, headshots yield a pixelated mess as if the censors got a hold of the video.