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Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (Xbox 360) artwork

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (Xbox 360) review


"I didn't think the first Kane & Lynch title, Dead Men, was a terrible game, but it did do a few things wrong that made it only an above-average product. The Campaign mode, for example, while it took gamers on a tour through various locations around the globe, was nothing more than a very basic hide-and-go-shoot action fest. Sure, there were a bunch of police, thugs, and mercenaries on screen trying to kill you, but it mostly felt subdued, especially since you had four or five AI buddies backing ..."



I didn't think the first Kane & Lynch title, Dead Men, was a terrible game, but it did do a few things wrong that made it only an above-average product. The Campaign mode, for example, while it took gamers on a tour through various locations around the globe, was nothing more than a very basic hide-and-go-shoot action fest. Sure, there were a bunch of police, thugs, and mercenaries on screen trying to kill you, but it mostly felt subdued, especially since you had four or five AI buddies backing you up, giving you ammo, and reviving you whenever your avatar falls to the ground. The multiplayer, Fragile Alliance, the highlight of Dead Men, even had its share of problems. When the game was first released, you only had four short maps to work with, and what made this more lame was they were exact locations taken from Campaign mode, so they could have easily added more. Even so, this decent title showed huge potential for a kick-ass sequel, and with Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days released three years after the original, did IO Interactive deliver a successor that would make a company like Capcom blush in delight?

Not really.

Dog Days is really only a simple expansiWAIT, COME BACK! LET ME FINISH!

This follow-up is just a simple expansion of its predecessor, but it's not the type that's really lazy like, say, Crackdown 2. While the play mechanics in Story Mode is still hide-and-go-shoot (were you honestly expecting something different?), it seems to take after Gears of War's approach, which means the action is more in your face. What helps this is that, except for one short instance, you'll only have one person backing you up for the entire mode. And unlike the previous release, if you get knocked down, you won't get helped up; you have to help yourself up quickly and hide before you get covered with more bullets.

It doesn't also hurt that, plot-wise, you've pissed off a very influential person in China by accidentally shooting his daughter, so you have everyone in the country with a gun trying to blow you away. This gives Story Mode a nonstop, roller coaster-style ride, as you have to literally shoot your way out from one location to the next. The fire fights get so thick at times, with police and gangs popping out of absurd hiding spots, it'll feel like you're playing a high-octane, off-rails light-gun title. And the entire experience is shown in an amateur video presentation, where it'll seem like an invisible cameraman is following you around (think Fox's Cops) the whole time. It's even complete with pixilated censorship whenever you kill a man or thing (woof woof) with a headshot!

However, like Dead Men, the multiplayer in Dog Days is what makes this sequel so damn fun to play. Fragile Alliance is just as raw and exciting, delivering an unpredictable flow with every new match. The rules haven't changed: you and your gang must loot at a specific location and leave before the strict time limit runs out. For those new to this, it's much harder than it sounds, as one or more players can betray the team at any given time to steal another's loot, and this usually happens while AI opponents block your path to freedom. Then there's the added element of respawing as a police officer after dying, having to fight the gang you were working with a second ago.

The mode is just as great as it was in the first, thanks to these variables thrown in every match. Actually, it's much better here, since the maps, while having the look of Story Mode, features brand new layouts. They didn't do a copy and paste job this time, and it's cool that they feel longer here; my favorite map, called Fish Market, is filled with many alternative alleyways to run through and buildings to take cover in, giving it the feeling of a maze in the heat of battle. I guess if I were to nitpick, though, the worst default map has to be Airport, since it mostly consists of running out into an open field, then into a hangar. But it's still a fun map, because the actual act of escaping the hangar is tough, thanks to the swat team blocking exits seconds before you attempt to get away in the helicopter waiting on the roof.

IO Interactive also went out of their way to add two additional multiplayer modes: Undercover Cop and Cops & Robbers. Undercover Cop plays like Fragile Alliance with the exception of two differences, one of your team mates is a cop and you can't respawn after dying. Picked at random in every round, being the undercover cop is a hell of a challenge, because they have to kill the other players before they escape. Then there's the disadvantage of not being able to fire at any cops; doing so will turn your Gamertag blue, and you'll have both thieves and police aiming for you. This mode really comes down to how good you can act your way through a heist and how best you can cleverly kill the other players. Cops & Robbers? It's the most standard multiplayer mode in the game, pitting a group of robbers against a group of cops (hence the name...), then switching roles after every round. It's not a bad mode, but it's very generic compared to the previous two. Plus, a lot of gamers normally quit after the first round if they're on the losing team, so it's hard to sustain an entire match.

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days isn't without its problems, however. I can spend an entire long paragraph talking about how Story Mode is only five hours long (though, they use those hours well, and it's much harder on higher difficulties), moan about how Lynch magically doesn't need pills anymore for his now absent hallucinations (missed opportunity!), or how your surroundings consist mostly of different shades of gray, gray, and more gray, but I won't. The main issue with Dog Days are its improvements.

This sequel gives you:

-The ability to play Story Mode co-op online.
-A "bots" version of Fragile Alliance where you play along with AI robbers, titled Arcade Mode.
-Better executed multiplayer that has more modes to mess with.
-Frantic Story Mode that doesn't slow down until you see the ending credits.

And so on. And so on.

Why are the improvements a problem? Because this is what the original game should have been like three years ago. When Dead Men was released at the end of 2007, it already felt dated with its lack of/watered-down features, especially since it came out after such games like Gears of War and Halo 3. We basically had to wait three years to receive a "correct" version. If the original were like this from the start, we probably would have had a much better sequel than what we have now.

Now, don't let that stop you from trying Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, because, even though it's not a great release, it's better than Dead Men. Just don't go into the game expecting an epic masterpiece, as it's really more of a kooky, at times surreal, blast-a-thon with an entertaining multiplayer component.

Rating: 7/10

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