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Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (PlayStation 3) artwork

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (PlayStation 3) review


"Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days seems to get it. It is not a game that opens with a slow burn. It does not begin with a long, drawn-out cutscene. It does not begin with a slow-paced tutorial level that reminds you, the player, in the year 2010, that holding down the L1 button aims your gun while the R1 button fires it. "



Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days seems to get it. It is not a game that opens with a slow burn. It does not begin with a long, drawn-out cutscene. It does not begin with a slow-paced tutorial level that reminds you, the player, in the year 2010, that holding down the L1 button aims your gun while the R1 button fires it.

Rather, the game opens with our two protagonists, Kane and Lynch, tied down and in the midst of getting brutally tortured with a razor sharp knife. Kane yells out to his torturer, in the most convincing and well, real voice acting ever heard in a video game:

I'M GOING TO FUCKING KILL Y-

TITLE CARD

KANE AND LYNCH 2: DOG DAYS

Then level one (which takes place forty-eight hours before the gruesome knife scene) loads up and even then, the shit will hit the fan more or less immediately. The level objective will change from, “oh, I just gotta give this guy a message” to, “WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST GET ME INTO, LYNCH!?” A foot chase will quickly degenerate into gunfight after gunfight. The formula of a third-person cover-based shooter has been distilled into its very essence here; shoot, duck behind something solid so as not to get shot, then come back up to shoot some more. Your enemies in this game are good about diving for cover as you and are, accordingly, just as hard to kill. You'll have to learn pretty quickly to leave your protective barrier (some of which are easily destructible, anyways) and flank the opposition if you want to stand a chance. All the while, confused and terrified civilians will run or hide during the fracas, while some unfortunate individuals will do their best to duck down in their car seats as bullets whizz right by their heads and, often, into their windshields.

Level one will eventually reach its end and the shit that's already completely gone to shit will get even shittier. A poorly-aimed shot from both Kane and Lynch will hit the daughter of China's biggest crime lord, effectively making them Public Enemy Number One. Not exactly the best way to begin one last job.

It's not all gunshots and f-words. There is a reason for these two to be back together in a literal Hell on Earth. The allure of One Last Job is too much for both men, now laying low and trying to fly right after the events of Kane and Lynch: Dead Men. Kane wants to use the money to support his estranged daughter, while Lynch (now settled down in Shanghai) wants to support his new girlfriend, Xiu. Of course, that one last job never, ever goes right.

Like the first game, the storytelling is wonderfully presented in the rawest possible form. Kane and Lynch are not relatable and not likable in any way, shape or form. They are the epitome of anti-hero; cold-blooded assholes taking out cold-blooded assholes even more cold-blooded than they are. The game's visual aesthetic, that of an amateur documentary, makes things feel more hopeless and genuinely terrifying than any horror game made in the last few years. Alone in a dark and dirty slum, fending off thugs and police looking to collect the price on your head, Lynch's realizes: his girlfriend is all alone in Shanghai! Suddenly, a tense situation only gets worse. I won't spoil that part of the game, although it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that it won't be good.

Lynch's battles with his own psychosis are a bit more subdued that last time, mostly because he's actually been taking his medication regularly. However, as the situation escalates and bad things go down, his mental state will gradually decrease, to the point of mumbling to himself during down moments. The timer on that human time bomb starts ticking down again.

It wasn't until I reached the last level of the game that noticed something: there is no music. Well, that's not entirely true; if you're close to a car, you can hear the faint sounds of music coming from the radio. But that's it. No dramatic swelling during big moments (I can't be the only person who makes a loud groan whenever a dramatic swell accompanies the motivational speech about how friendship can overcome anything), no hard-rock guitar riff during a chase, no bullshit. Just you, your partner and the entire criminal underworld of Shanghai, shooting and cursing at one another. There's no time to nod your head to the tunes when the wall you're hiding behind begins getting the tiles shot right off of it, dust settling in your face.

And that, simply, is what Kane and Lynch is all about: two hard-edged assholes doing bad things and getting worse things done to them back. The only real satisfying ending would be for the two of them to end their journey with a bullet in their brains. Rather, Dog Days ends with a moment full of pure desperation and nihilism that is absolute genius. It is a metaphorical middle finger to anyone expecting a drawn-out ending where everything is alright in the end, or at the very least, slightly less fucked up than the situation they're in now.

There are some multiplayer modes to go through once you're finished playing by yourself. They're pretty fun! Granted, they basically all boil down to, “work together for points, then shoot your teammates at the end to get even more points,” but fuck it, it's not any less cerebral than any other multiplayer shit out there. Although I will admit that making an online component centered around griefing and team-killing is either a pretty great idea or a sign that the developers threw their hands up in the air and gave up. Your mileage may vary, more or less.

If Mother 2 is the video game equivalent of an excellent newspaper article, if Live A Live is the video game equivalent of Yume De Aimashou, if Lost Odyssey is the video game equivalent of an epic poem and if No More Heroes is the video game equivalent of an exploitation film, then Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days might just be the best video game equivalent of a short story in an alternative press magazine. It is, or at least, what should be, a shining example of creativity in an industry where creative bankruptcy is a way of life. Whether or not that statement catches on, though, will be up to Father Time.

Rating: 10/10

hmd's avatar
Featured community review by hmd (September 06, 2010)

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zigfried posted September 06, 2010:

It does begin with a slow-paced tutorial level that reminds you, the player, in the year 2010, that holding down the L1 button aims your gun while the R1 button fires it.

I think you meant to say it does NOT begin with that.

Anyways, I'm glad you reviewed this -- I was kind of hoping you would. You make it sound pretty great and no-nonsense with its action, while avoiding the bullshit that comes with most shooting games (Modern Warfare 2 training grounds!) The last paragraph where you reference a whole bunch of stuff that is nothing at all like Kane & Lynch was awesome. Most people will probably be confused about why you're even bringing up Mother 2 (let alone Yume De Aimashou), but that's because they don't like cool shit and you do.

//Zig
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hmd posted September 06, 2010:

Oops. Thanks for pointing my typo. Consider that fixed.
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joseph_valencia posted September 06, 2010:

Terrific review. Here's another typo:

Alone in a dark and dirty slum, fending off thugs and police looking to collect the price on your head, Lynch's realizes: his girlfriend is all alone in Shanghai!

I think you meant "Lynch realizes."
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Suskie posted September 06, 2010:

Fantastic review. I haven't wanted to play this game until now.
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pickhut posted September 07, 2010:

Honestly, I was going into this review expecting something completely sarcastic, but I got something completely different. Your love for the game is shown so clearly, and I think that's what made the review so entertaining to read.

Granted, I don't believe it deserves a 10/10, but that's me. It's still a fine review!

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