Review: Seeing a naked Lynch lying there in the rain, getting pumped full of bullets, is NOT my idea of a fun night.
Let me be completely up front with you: Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is not worth $60. This third-person shooter set in Shanghai is possibly one of the worst games I have ever played. IO Interactive helmed the development, while Eidos Interactive published it and Square Enix distributed it. Never has a game with so many big names on it been more disappointing. The single-player campaign took me a little under five hours to complete, which makes the game slightly longer than some reviews said it would be. Far from a good thing, all that means is that I suffered longer than they did.
This sequel to Kane and Lynch: Dead Men picks up with Lynch settled down in Shanghai with a girlfriend, still pulling jobs to make money. Kane comes out to do a job with him, and it's here that we find out his daughter survived the ordeal from the first game. As is typical in heist stories, Kane is doing this one last job to get out of this life. Lynch is presumably in it because he's still as crazy as ever. Things go wrong right off the bat ? how could they not for two ex-cons pulling tricks in Shanghai? ? and a girl gets killed. All hell breaks loose and suddenly everyone's got Kane and Lynch in their crosshairs.
The story is typical and at times completely nonsensical. In all probability, no one bought this game for the story. But IO Interactive could have put some effort into it ? maybe given us something that wasn't clich?d, written up some dialogue that didn't include the line ?get to the chopper!? (though that did make me giggle when I heard it), and created a situation in which we cared about the characters. That was what I was most upset about with the storyline ? I didn't care about the characters. Whether they were getting shot at by cops (where did the cops come from so quickly?) or cut up and tortured, I felt no association with them whatsoever. The jarring transitions between gameplay ? sometimes cut scenes, sometimes conversations voiced over a montage of stills from the game ? didn't give the story any cohesion and created an even bigger rift between me and the characters. The jumps between chapters ? one of which only took me eight minutes! ? were even less smooth.
And that's not even getting into the combat. There are several weapons to choose from, and many of them are effective in close-quarter combat. But few of them are good for long-range combat, which ends up happening more than a few times in the game. I would find myself trapped behind cover, running through an entire clip of a completely inappropriate gun type as I tried to pick enemies off one at a time. More than once, I was cornered by a machine gunner, as Kane shouted ?I'll cover ya!? ? yet no cover fire was to be found. And shooting enemies was always a gamble ? sometimes I'd hit an enemy with one bullet and he'd fall over like a limp sack; other times, I'd hit an enemy with a dozen bullets and he'd still be popping his head out, firing his gun at me.
There's also no melee in this game, which is aggravating ? and, frankly, pretty lazy. There were moments when I'd finish up a firefight and progress forward, only to come around a corner and get shot in the face and die in one hit ? restarting me at the checkpoint. And did I mention how unforgiving the checkpoints can be? Some checkpoints would be from room to room, allowing me to pop up easily after getting killed. But other fights spanned several rooms, and dying at any point would start me back at the very beginning, frustrated and annoyed by the disparity.
The cover system is flawed and ineffectual, protecting you from errant bullets at one minute and flimsy as a sheet of tissue paper the next. If you get shot too many times, you fall down on the ground and can either continue shooting from there or ?Press A to get up? ? and if you're near cover, the game gives you the option to press A to get up in cover. However, the game doesn't take into consideration which cover will actually protect you ? so if you go down, say, next to a pillar, and you press A to get into cover, you could get up on the side that shields you from the enemies. However, you are just as likely to get up and take cover on the side that is completely open to enemy fire, making this option completely useless.
The AI is laughably bad. Even when I first played the demo, watching the AI pop up like safari animals at a boardwalk shooting range made me burst into laughter. Shooting someone a few times as they pop out of cover makes them dance a bit, hopping around from one piece of cover to the next, and finally sprawling on the ground in a heap once you've filled them with bullets. Another strange occurrence is when you pop out from cover to take some shots ? and three enemies leave their cover to get to another piece of cover, all moving in tandem in a strange ballet.
This includes the NPCs as well. In one scene, unsure of where to go, I wandered around a bit, trying to get my bearings. I came upon the other characters in my party, and every one of them ? except for Kane ? was standing stock still, bracing their guns, staring straight ahead. There was no witty banter (not that I wanted to know the writer's definition of ?witty banter? at this point), no movement, nothing. They just stood there and waited for me to figure out what to do so they could jump into action again and continue firing wildly into equally terrible AI enemies. There was also one scene in which I grabbed a cop to use as a human shield, threw him at another cop standing a few feet away, and then they both spontaneously died. I mean? what?
While the ?shaky cam? aesthetic was interesting and novel, it was also annoying at its best and nauseating at its worst. I understand the concept behind it, and I appreciate how the whole camera jostled around when I sprinted, but it was completely unnecessary and served as more of a gimmick than anything else. Without strong gameplay, a solid storyline, or useful mechanics, the insanity of the low-quality graphics jumping around the screen made the game even more painful to play.
I'm not even sure what else to say at this point ? the audio was mostly ambient noise, and the voiceovers during the interim scenes between chapters was nearly inaudible when compared to the blaring cacophony of the firefights. There's one chapter I really liked, where you get to shoot things from a helicopter, but there's another entire chapter where Kane and Lynch are both naked. Read that last part again and shudder with me, please. You play a an entire chapter staring at the low-res asscrack of Lynch. Even better is when you get killed and fall to the ground in such a way as to expose Lynch's less favorable naked areas. It was possibly the most exciting part of the entire game.
The multiplayer suffers from the same ailments as the campaign, except now, instead of fighting terrible pop-up AI, you're fighting people who have actually spent money on this game. I'm not sure what's worse. The Arcade Mode is actually pretty fun ? you get to run around, kill cops, steal money, and take off in a getaway car ? but after I got run over by the getaway car for the second time, I realized I was probably not cut out of this heist lifestyle, and turned over my temporary member card. There are other multiplayer modes, Undercover Cop and Cops & Robbers, both of which play out exactly as they sound and are about as exciting as Arcade Mode.