by Jeff Gates
previewed on X360
Nowhere to go but up, right?
The Merriam-Webster definition for a video game is: an electronic game played by means of images on a video screen and often emphasizing fast action.
Pretty simple, eh? But that definition was created in 1973 and games have grown into much more today. Due to the ever-increasing power and competition in the industry we as gamers expect A LOT more from our games than just an emphasis on fast action. Unfortunately I’m not sure the folks at IO Interactive were all too aware of that in 2008 when they released Kane & Lynch: Dead Men.
Truth be told Kane & Lynch: Dead Men was playable, mostly because myself and a friend could laugh at it whilst playing co-op (which was on the same console because it lacked any online cooperative mode). The game was rather simple and something we had all seen before. The controls were crappy, the AI reminded me of a horde of retarded Koopa Troopa’s and the story was worse than a Michael Bay movie. Oh yeah and there was a multiplayer that just did not deliver on pre-release promises and hype.
Co-op focused retail titles of late have been seriously underwhelming me. Army of Two is a step-up from the Kane & Lynch franchise but everything in it just seems like a game aimed at meat heads with hard-ons for man muscle and crappy storylines. The latest Army of Two has been fairly well received but still this genre sucks lately. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is hoping to take a bite out of this blemish in gaming and bring excellence to a co-op focused game.
The story in the first Kane & Lynch was pretty lacking and did not offer what I expected for a game like this. ‘A game like this’ being a story of thieves running from death and chasing the all mighty dollar which has proven itself a worthy film premise. The second game might just meet my standards in this department.
The cinematography seems to be rather reminiscent of some of my favorite action films while delivering a more personal and in your face feel of the likes of something on YouTube. The voice acting is strong and the visuals are gritty and serve quite a purpose: to deliver a raw “behind-the-camera” view at this aging duo of death dealing. The gameplay and story roll together pretty well and the action is definitely on. For the short time I was blasting through Kane & Lynch 2 one thing was pretty obvious to me: this game is going to be tougher than its predecessor.
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men was in my mind pretty easy on everything but the hardest level, and even then it did not serve too much of a challenge. In Kane & Lynch 2 you will be dying a good deal more. This is mostly because the guns are inaccurate and the enemies come in droves. I rather like the recoil laden inaccurate shooting. It adds to the gritty life like feel of this title. Those who have shot any weapon while on the move can confirm that unless you spent 12 years in the SEALS you just can’t be as accurate as most games depict. Kane & Lynch 2 however shows a more realistic side of gunplay. Using cover to your utmost advantage and utilizing every moment that an enemy moves an inch as an opportunity to strike him down with white-hot lead. Dog Days is not the paramount of realism – I mean the AI will occasionally stare at you like “hey you bearded jackass kill me already!” – but it does provide that grit and necessary raw carnage in the delivery of both the story and the gameplay that everyone sought after in the first game.
Forget the Glam
The fairly destructible obstacles and cover assisted by the gritty gun battles further my point that this game is really quite honest. The focus seems to be an accurate and un-glamorous depiction of these two men in the fight for their lives. Tack on a story that seems engrossing and you have the makings of an awesome game here.
However, I remain cautiously optimistic. While it does seem IO has made improvements over the first game I can’t quite tell if those improvements will help make this installment something to be remembered. I would love to see Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days succeed for a number of reasons, the foremost being I enjoy rough-edged games like this. While I am playing my cards close my chest because I have been fooled before, the more I talk about and play this game the more excited I get for its release late-August.