Preview: Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days

Game: Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days
Format: Xbox 360
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Eidos Interactive

It’s probably worth mentioning that I have not played the original Kane and Lynch game. Since current gen consoles became more affordable and commonplace in most households, “frag style” shooters that forgo finesse and storyline in favour of perseverance and a more chaotic, crimson splattered roller-coaster of a ride have truly ruled the day.

You know the sort I’m sure. The kind of games that have your character seemingly outmatched and facing dozens of enemies at a time with your best friend being the cover system. Frankly, I find it boring, especially when these games demand that ¾ of your gun’s clip must be emptied into just one of your targets in order for them to fall.

The tedium is enhanced by the story lines, which are often sparse and unimaginative. Frustration saturates my very senses as I recover from one monotonous death after another, with seemingly no end to the enemies.

In Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days, you make the realisation that Mr Lynch’s beloved wench is in trouble. All hell breaks loose after you make a rendez-vous with the other protagonist, Kane, and slaughter your way through a sea of blood, noodles and policemen/some kind of black ops task force to rescue aforementioned damsel. Simple right?

One of the most striking things about the game is its visual style. The game focuses on a news footage/youtube video style of realism. You might think that this would get in the way of things, or obscure the image, but it works surprisingly well.  In fact the first thing I said upon starting the game was “wow!”.

The visual style mimics amateur hand held camera footage you might see on the news

Do not get me wrong, I love to blow things up and lay my digital enemies to waste, but it’s the little details that make one game truly unique from all the other cover based third person shooters out there. The demo build of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days definitely intrigues me by presenting itself as a unique third person action shooter.

The controls and cover system are both intuitive and really quite sensitive. When you are reloading your weapon behind cover, the game does not pander to mindless drones by having the cross-hair constantly visible. Thus, you are prevented from aiming behind cover and simply popping out for ‘instant kills-a-plenty’. Little things like this demand just a little bit more focus from players and add a greater sense of realism and immersion into the game.

There's a really dirty look to this game, without it being all grey and brown

And realism is indeed a strong point for “Dog Days”. Playing as Lynch, the “self medicating psychopath”, you find the camera sway and jolt with him during actions such as sprinting and firing, which adds an edgy visual, an almost seasick feeling, that does a wonderful job of implying the perspective of your dosed up character without inhibiting your performance. Other elements such as little diagonal cross hairs to display bullet splatter patterns appearing on your enemies, as you deal out their demise, add a greater sense of satisfaction and appreciation for the weapon you are employing.
I really did enjoy playing Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days. From the opening cut scene you see Lynch eating food with level of realism that has me perform a double take. The finesse as to the character’s consumption of noodles, on casual inspection, was so wholly real; I really am surprised by the effort taken for such a small detail. Technology gets better and better all the time with things becoming increasingly effortless, but it’s all about the little things that help me lose myself in a game.
The general lighting is subtle and extremely effective. It complements the dank urban playground of death you are frolicking around. The whole atmosphere of the demo is indeed seedy. The character’s appear to be dirty, sweaty and an assured part of the Asian, neon sparkled ghetto you are fleeing through. Parts of the environment prove to be destructible, particularly the furniture and internal support structure of the restaurant and shanty town you ballistically molest. Shards and chunks of wood splintering away in satisfactory chunks as you wear down the cover of nearby peons.

Cover breaks apart and splinters whenever it is hit by bullets

The enemy AI forces NPCs to take cover regularly without leaving themselves open as stationary targets. Members of the enemy team also routinely flank you from any side. The AI of your partner, Kane, has him as a worthy comrade / psycho in arms. He’s certainly competent at picking up the crumbs you let tumble from your banquet table of cadavers, or for the more inexperienced: fighting tooth and nail to pick up the slack in the body count.

The graphics are pleasing and the ambiance of the game does a great job of making you feel like a ruthless, sociopathic, skullet-toting mercenary, wishing to rescue his lady friend. The environments, while linear, give a few routes to experiment with in order to flank your foes. These range from rooftop vantage points to ushering through shops, avoiding the open high-street road. However, this game is in the developmental stage and still has problems concerning lighting glitches with street lamps. Also breakable parts of the environment either fragment before your eyes or simply disappear.

The story of the game is presented in a concise but mysterious way that has indeed caught my attention. The characters themselves are also charismatic and appealing in their desperate fight for survival and moral depravity.

The physics are relatively good but could be improved on. When slain, enemies literally collapse to the ground as if their strings have simply been severed. I would expect that, when someone is the recipient for a 12 gauge to the face at close range, the point of force with their centre of gravity acting as a fulcrum would inevitably have their body thrown backwards violently. This combined with Lynch casually firing his shotgun like he’s operating an airsoft pistol with the recoil akin to something like a baby’s flatulence. Maybe he has fantastic technique, maybe this adds a balance to help compose the player in battle… I’ll let you decide.

Despite the problems mentioned so far, I have faith they will be resolved upon the game’s release. As mentioned at the beginning, I don’t play games for the sake of simply shooting things, and I feel this game elevates beyond weak action shooters.

If you want some substance to your mayhem, judging from this demo, Kane and Lynch: Dog Days looks like a title to watch. Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days will be available for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 on 27th August 2010.

- Ian Young

Stay tuned to The Newb Review for further coverage of this game.

Thu, July 8 2010 » PC/Mac, Previews, PS3, Xbox 360

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