Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is releasing in a somewhat unenviable position. After controversy surrounding the last game and a generally lukewarm response from critics, some were surprised that a second game was greenlit so quickly. It's good then that Dog Days makes such a strong first impression, with its handheld video style visuals and the return of the violent, mature themes that defined Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. But what everyone wants to know is whether Dog Days solves the problems that plagued Dead Men: the dodgy controls, the story that fell apart, the lack of online co-op, and more. To a degree, it does, but issues remain in IO's tale of criminals in a desperate situation.
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Dog Days is a considerably streamlined affair in comparison to the first game. There are no more heists, not much in the way of stealth missions, hell, there's not even much variety in the whys of what you're doing. You're pretty much always shooting and moving forward. In a way, this is refreshing - that other stuff was not executed well in the last game.
Of course, the flaw there is increased repetition. The shooting mechanic in Dog Days is more functional than it was in Dead Men, but it still feels a little behind the times in comparison to third person shooters in 2010, and the cover system still frustrates as much as it helps. This is compounded by weapons that have been hobbled in effectiveness by IO's desire to make them feel more realistic. Guns early in the game are inaccurate pieces of junk, and you'll spend as much time looking for better guns as you will your plan of attack. This is more a problem for you than the enemies you'll face, as Dog Days is one of the few games I've ever played where fodder opponents take more punishment than the player can.
The real draw of Kane & Lynch 2 is the story and presentation. At this point, you probably know about Dog Days' particular presentation style, evoking user created video content on sites like Youtube. However, the influence of modern and classic crime thrillers is also omni-present. Similar to the tonal similarities the original Kane & Lynch game shared with the film Heat, Dog Days evokes films like Collateral and The Departed.
Where the original game's narrative collapsed under its own weight about halfway through, Dog Days actually holds itself together remarkably well. It's rare that a game can make you flinch. Jump scares, sure. They're easy, and movies have made us all numb to them after the initial shock. But for a game to really crawl under your skin, to sit there and disturb you, where you'll watch awkwardly as a character sobs like everything has been taken from them, because it has, that's... unexpected. I'm unaccustomed to a game taking story seriously enough that it can actually be criticized for expending its emotional payload too early, or for descending so far into nihilistic violence that I felt like I needed to come up for air sometimes.
Review from IGN
Images from Google
Videos from YouTube