IO Interactive is renowned for its Hitman series of ultra-violent, yet highly immersive action espionage games, but it received moderate acclaim for its separate venture, Kane & Lynch when it originally launched in 2007 via Eidos. However, whether or not its sequel, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, now under the Square Enix label, builds upon the solid foundation or not is another matter entirely.
What is apparent straight away is that there is no time for catching your breath. Right from the start players are thrown into the deep end. After a very short introduction, there is an intense chase scene that carries on through the back streets of Shanghai and mixes a cinematic styling of hand-cam footage with constant dialogue between the main characters, complete with extra bits of voice work from surrounding non-playable folk passed en-route to hunting down the person running away. All the while bullets are flying around in such a hectic manner that if played on anything other than the easiest difficulty level, most gamers would likely be faced with death repeatedly after only a few minutes on the clock, leading to massive frustration, despite the regular checkpoints where the characters are revived once felled.
The thrilling action is indeed tremendous fun for a limited time, yet the bobbing camera and grainy effects that are meant to help draw players into the frantic shootouts become tiresome after only a short time, and in fact are somewhat headache and nausea inducing and certainly not recommended for those with travel sickness! Other than the basic discussion of how an arms deal has gone awry, IO Interactive relies heavily on keeping players occupied with a torrent of shoot-out scenes. Sadly, though, the whole experience is highly flawed and totally underwhelming, not living up to the Hitman games in any way.
Choosing to play solo, or with someone else in-tow via an online connection or local two-player setup, each and every area has a specific objective, such as protecting a vehicle, finding a key person, or ensuring some key person in the group is not killed. However, although this synopsis makes it sound like there is room for variety, the outcome is always the same: duck, cover, blast away like crazy. It almost plays out like an on-rails shooter, similar to House of the Dead, yet without anywhere near as much enjoyment pumping through its veins. What doesn’t help in the slightest is how, even when hiding behind walls or solid objects, enemies still manage to draw blood. Pelt them with a slew of bullets and they will eventually choose to collapse, where you will be left thinking “What else do I have to do to kill this guy?” Meanwhile, more adversaries are pouring forth, ready to come charging your way, seemingly impervious to weapon fire and yet fully able to launch a blood-thirsty attack with ease as your character struggles to even hide behind vehicles, walls, and so on, properly.
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is a such a frustrating experience that any redeeming factors become easily washed away by its flaky third-person shooting and overall gameplay mechanic, which makes aiming awkward as well as choosing the correct side of an object to peer out from when taking pot shots at enemies an unfathomable chore. Oddly enough, where being a game that lasts only five or six hours would generally be seen as being too brief, the sooner this ends, the better. If players can tolerate the numerous foibles, blazing through to the final credits in the speediest time possible may help brush over some of the flaws. Failing that, tucking into the three online multiplayer modes might help take the edge off, yet even these can prove to be too limited in nature on the whole. Unfortunately, there are too many drawbacks and lazy elements in Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days to make this a really worthy purchase. Will there ever be a Kane & Lynch 3? Well, unless IO Interactive pulls its socks up, if there isn’t, then it’s unlikely many will miss it.
MLG Rating: 4/10 Platform: PS3/ Xbox 360 Release Date: 20/08/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two days on a PS3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.