Kane & Lynch 2: Dogs Days First Look - Every Dog Has Its Day
Written Friday, January 15, 2010 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men sounded so good on paper and yet failed to hit the mark on so many levels. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days sounds really good on paper too, but hopefully this time the game might actually deliver. And lord knows IO Interactive are more than keen to make up for the huge disappointment that was the first game.
We recently descended upon the One Aldwych Hotel in London for our first look at the sequel, the presentation of which opened with a vibe trailer depicting remarkably similar cinematic influences to the ones that had previously informed the first Kane & Lynch. So, we're immediately noticing more Michael Mann, this time in the form of the DV shot Collateral and blockbuster action of Die Hard 4.0. Previously IO cited Mann's Heat as an influence, but it's Collateral's naturalistic look and stark depiction of Los Angeles that is specifically the most important factor for Kane & Lynch 2.
Ambitiously IO is looking to redefine the action shooter experience, and the first step in doing so is to apparently adopt a strikingly bold new aesthetic that takes its cue from user-generated video content like YouTube videos or CCTV footage. The upshot is a visual style that immediately looks unlike anything else, with exaggerated lens flare, bright, vivid colours and a generous helping of graininess.
The vibe trailer goes on to show a YouTube video of a man strolling through Shanghai, which as it turns out, proves to be a genuine taster for the graphical presentation we're shown in the hands-off game demo itself. The amateur video look of the game is certainly very interesting, instantly grabbing our attention as we attentively watch with a raised eyebrow. It looks great, but we're not entirely convinced that it works and a lack of context doesn't really help in making sense of the decision to adopt such an art style.
When the game is in motion, the choppy camera bounces around as it replicates the motion of a chasing cameraman, which personally made us feel somewhat queasy. An extended hands-on play with such an active camera seems unimaginable and frankly, quite vomit-inducing. For the record, we've never before experienced motion sickness while playing or watching any other game, but K&L 2 could change that.
Narrative-wise, Dog Days is set following the events of a simple job gone horribly wrong – just when Lynch was beginning to settle down with his girlfriend and a normal life. Taking the role of lead protagonist, Lynch finds himself working for a weapon merchant named Glazer on one last job, calling in old buddy Kane for his military expertise and knowledge of weapon shipments. Soon the pair find themselves on the run from the law when things inevitably go awry, initiating a frantic chase that unfolds over two intense days.
Beneath the game's surface grit, still beats the heart of a raw and brutal crime shooter set amid the bleak, grimy Shanghai underworld. As we're introduced to the fourth level of the game which opens on a close-up of sociopath Lynch sat at a restaurant bar as he slurps a bowlful of noodles, the uniquely hyper-real video imagery suddenly begins to make sense - thematically at least. Like the first game before it, Dog Days is similarly adult, with coarse, sweary dialogue and stark, cold violence.
Armed police troopers storm into the restaurant causing Lynch to leap from his stool, entrenching himself behind cover as he's confronted by a barrage of gunfire. The shaky camera lurches around, maintaining its focus on Lynch as he moves in and out of cover, peeking from behind walls and pillars to return pot shots at his attackers. As shots hit the obstacles around Lynch, blocky artefacts momentarily scramble the image and as he escapes out onto the rain-slicked Shanghai streets, the representation of the busy, urban alleyways, replete with neon signs and claustrophobic video stores (proudly displaying copies of Mini Ninjas and Hitman on their shelves) is truly startling.
Out on the main street, incidental events like a civilian casually jumping onto a scooter and riding away adds life to the city, and when the firefight spills out into the night air, all hell breaks loose and the shooting mechanics come into their own. The HUD is stripped down to include only the barest of essentials while the action itself appears to be perfectly robust and serviceable with cover-to-cover gun fighting the order of the day.
Lynch gradually fights his way through the streets evading as many of the Kevlar-sporting agents as possible, with Kane (having seemingly appeared from nowhere) following closely in tow, eventually finding his way onto an open field where a helicopter descends, casting its blinding searchlight upon the fleeing fugitives. Kane & Lynch sprint into more trouble as yet more heavily armed agents lie in wait to get the drop on the duo. Failing to leap behind a nearby pillar, Lynch finds himself standing out in the open and gets rapidly cut down in a hail of gunfire. And so the demo ends.
But there's so much more yet to be shown, including numerous multiplayer modes including off and online campaign co-op and Fragile Alliance – an eight-player co-operative heist scenario, which plays upon each participant's potential for greed, offering them the chance to steal the entirety of the contents of the bank's vault, betraying the rest of the team in the process. Cue numerous rounds where everyone shoots one another and no one wins.
Slated for a 2010 release, this first showing of Kane & Lynch 2 demonstrates that IO has ostensibly learnt some valuable lessons from their experience on Dead Men, which hopefully means Dog Days will atone for that game's sins and prove to be something genuinely worthwhile.