Preview: Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

It boggles the mind as to how the original Kane & Lynch received a green light for a sequel. A quick glance over at Metacritic shows mostly yellow- and red-coded reviews (that’s not a good thing boys and girls), with a User Score of 2.8. The obvious answer seems to be that the original game earned enough quiche to warrant not only a sequel, but some interest from Hollywood. To be fair, the characters and story of the original game were definitely the highlights, but the dodgy controls and lack of gameplay variety were but a couple of the cons that dragged this game down.

Perhaps this rather negative framing of the franchise to date paints a picture that doesn’t logically warrant a sequel, but I’m sure as hell glad that they were able to make one. Y’see, I had Kane & Lynch 2 down on my release calendar many months ago because I’m a sucker for cooperative shooters. Even if they’re generic and straight Gears of War clones, I still get a kick out of playing through them with a friend of three (where supported). But when I was reviewing my release calendar not so long ago, I had a harsh talk with myself as to why the hell Kane & Lynch 2 was even on there in the first place. Was I going to play more than half an hour? Did I really expect it to be a major enough improvement on the first to warrant me spending my precious time, let alone my hard-earned cash, on it? The result of this self-interrogation was the removal of Kane & Lynch 2 from my to-buy list.

And then I got my hands on an Xbox 360 beta code. I can’t really tell you why I installed it to begin with. Perhaps it was the bragging point of saying I’d played a game that others hadn’t. Maybe it was because I have unlimited monthly bandwidth and believe that if I’m not downloading gigabytes worth of data every day then the internet gods are allowing more and more n00bs into my beloved realm. Possibly it was just that I wanted to believe that any game franchise can always redeem itself. Whatever the reason I entered the code, downloaded the beta, played it… played it some more… got my friends to play it… and then felt compelled to play even more.

What the hell?

I was supposed to be able to sit on my high horse and feel justified in my Twilight approach to bashing sequels; namely that I don’t have to see them to know that they suck arse (for the record I only made it 40-odd minutes through the original Twilight and that was only because I didn’t feel it was right for me to so venomously bag out a film without first having tried to watch it… how wrong I was). In regards to Kane & Lynch 2, let the record show that I’m glad to be proven wrong about my self-proclaimed prophetic negativity.

The beta included a touch of multiplayer, a dab of the campaign and a spot of arcade modes that serve to train you for the online foray. While I didn’t try my hand at multiplayer, I did have a ball with the single-player side of things. The slice of the campaign that I spent most of my time with was frantic, intense and rather challenging. From the outset of the mission, our game protagonists were seemingly trapped in a restaurant as heavily armed and armoured police types bursts in with a ‘shoot first, ask questions never’ mentality.

Immediately, I was forced to familiarise myself with the game’s cover mechanic, which works a charm… that is, until the wooden wall you were hard up against is shot away, forcing you to never stop in one place for too long. Enemies use cover too, along with blind fire, flanking and generally any nasty trick to try and take you down. If you go down, you’re not necessarily dead, with an option to crawl towards cover or jump back onto your feet, albeit with low health. Staying on the ground doesn’t necessarily guarantee immunity from these audacious foes either who really want to take you out, and not for a delicious steak dinner either.

It reminded me of the first time I played Bad Company 2, in that enemies don’t go down quick; particularly the armoured opponents (of which there were an abundance). Headshots are a must, otherwise you’ll be likely to spend entire clips in exchange for the single life of an opponent. The game features a neat mechanic that shows a white cross on a targeted enemy, so you know where you’re hitting and what areas kill quicker. It’s a simple but neat addition that helps to improve your aim and forces you to control your fire rate to score more meaningful hits.

The demo level was rife with innocent folk running back and forth, all of whom can be felled if you’re that way inclined. Their frantic screams and tendency to run in the middle of firefights raging between you and the overzealous popo makes for sometimes-hilarious sometimes-frustrating (you just blocked my perfectly lined-up headshot!) collateral damage. The level was frantic from start to finish, with short breather sections as you run to the next shootout with your finger poised nervously over the triggers, expecting an ambush at any moment.

The other play mode I spent most of my time in was the single-player version of Fragile Alliance. Basically, this mode has you starting out with a group of heavily armed thieves with the goal being to shoot and loot your way from the start of the level to the end. Sounds pretty generic, right? Wrong. At any point during the start-to-finish dash for cash you can turn on your teammates: sometimes deliberately, other times by way of accidental friendly fire. Shooting a teammate will label you a traitor, which means that the others will rain lead on you. At this point, not only are you fighting entrenched security forces, but also your pissed off teammates.

Ideally, the aim is to try and keep your teammates ‘alive’ for as long as possible, so the job of getting past the security forces is easier. I say ‘alive’ because you’re kinda encouraged to let one die every now and then so you can a) loot their cash and b) have less fools to fell before the finish line. It’s a simple addition to a tried-and-proven play mode, and it really works; and I didn’t even get to experience it with other human players, where the levels of trust will be even more fragile.

Suffice it to say, I’ve now re-added Kane & Lynch 2 to my to-buy list and am eagerly anticipating its release around the middle of August. For those interested in giving the game a burl, a demo has already hit PSN and is scheduled for release early next week on Xbox LIVE and PC, and I highly recommend you give it a try and let me know what your thoughts are back here.

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  • Shush

    Dude this game was fun as hell, and collateral damage was awesome. I was especially impressed with how deliciously raw it was and dare I say it? gritty. Overall fun, considering it was just a demo. Excited for some co-op action fo sho.

  • Bagmup

    I was told the camera was shit… but maybe i'll download it now, i mean, Nacho has never let me down before *coughnaughtybearcough*

  • Nachos Justice

    I resemble that comment!

  • QuesterX

    Put me on the door.

  • Nachos Justice

    What does that even mean?

  • Bagmup

    Loved the demo once i turned the sensitivity up to 100 and turned the shaky cam bullshit off.. will buy this.