While the original Kane and Lynch may be remembered for its review controversy, for me, it was a title that really tried to do something fresh and unique in a lot of ways. Kane and Lynch: Dead Men had main characters that were difficult to like, but by the end of the dark and compelling story to save Kane’s family, players felt a bit of Stockholm Syndrome for the duo. The co-op, while offline only, offered a unique perspective for both players, something we rarely see in the age of co-op clone characters. The sequel has arrived and our anti-heroes are back again, this time across the world in Shanghai with Lynch’s story as the focus. But can Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days recapture the same fresh feeling of the first game?
The story of Dog Days has Kane meeting up with his old pal Lynch who promises a job with plenty of riches. Upon Kane’s arrival a simple task for the two turns sour and inadvertently starts a gang war. Soon you realize that your deal is going south as your contact is attacked in an intense highway assault and you make a desperate attempt to escape with all your lives. It wasn’t long after this I lost what was going on, the overall purpose of what the duo was doing. Despite some great voice acting and plenty of memorable lines - I had completely forgot the purpose of what I was doing midway through the title. “Why am I shooting these army guys again?” I asked my co-op partner. It had something to do with a big Chinese mob boss and not dieing, but beyond that everything is a bit of chaos. Perhaps this is what IO Interactive was going for, as the main character this time is Lynch, who’s not exactly mentally stable. There’s plenty of times Lynch voices over to himself, trying to use psychological tricks to calm his nerves - no doubt from some sort of therapy sessions.
The graphical style and display are going to be the most memorable and controversial piece to this game, the shaky YouTube style camera is either going to be a complete turn off or something people really like. At moments the grainy and over saturated look of the game world makes it look eerily realistic. The neon glow of lights bouncing off reflective surfaces, the distant city line of Shanghai, and the dark alleys all can trick your eye in an almost photo realistic moment. Other times poor textures in certain areas, stiff character animation and improper lip syncing totally break the immersion.
Shortly into my first mission I almost felt nauseous from the camera movement - but it passed. The shaky camera is only really bad while running and once you get used to it, it provides some useful info on enemy position and adds to the immersive effect. Thankfully if you can’t get over it you can disable it, though it’s still there to some degree.
IO Interactive really wanted to have the feeling of intense and gritty shoot outs. They wanted your palms sweaty and your grip tightening on your controller through every twist and turn. To some degree, this holds true. There were times the firefights were memorable, with exploding objects and cover flying everywhere as bullets rained down on Kane and Lynch. The atmosphere is further enhanced by Asian inspired pop music blasting from in game radios and intercoms, giving it an almost John Woo movie feel in certain situations.