Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days ImpressionsBy Brian Leahy - Posted Jan 15, 2010
Kane & Lynch seem to be following in the footsteps of Salem and Rios (Army of Two: The 40th Day), heading to China with some gameplay improvements. In Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, Lynch has moved to China to participate in some small-time crime. Kane is no where to be found after saving his daughter after the events of the first game in one of two possible endings. This is the canon IO Interactive is choosing. Anyway, fast forward to a big-time heist presented to Lynch and his group. They need help and Lynch suggests they bring in Kane, who agrees under the conditions that he'll use the money to set his daughter up for life and then give up his life of crime altogether. The game will follow Kane & Lynch for a few days (actual gameplay time around 15-20 hours) leading up to the heist, but things get plenty crazy before the big job.
Stylistically, the game is "shot" from the perspective of a handheld camcorder behind Lynch. YouTube seems to be the primary influence as the graphics are grainy, full of lens flare (note the above screenshot), and the soundtrack is entirely ambient. Even the loading screen displays a YouTube style loading ring and "Buffering". When you take damage, the video will pixelate. Shoot someone in the face with a shotgun and the carnage will be censored, much like you would see in news footage. When running, there's considerable motion bob as the "cameraman" follows Lynch. This can be turned off, however.
Gameplay-wise, the shooting looks to be improved from the first game. The indoor environments seemed a little small and the person running the demo often got stuck on cover and lost in the chaos of the firefights. I'll wait until I can actually get my hands on the game for final judgment, however. The developers wanted everything to be a little hectic and chaotic, as you'll be playing as Lynch this time around. Lynch, who is very much insane, plays differently than Kane. You won't be able to carry as much ammo, instead relying on the weapons of dead enemies. Additionally, the squad command features are gone as Lynch is just a bit too crazy to be giving battlefield directions or IO Interactive just wanted to nix the feature, but it does make sense in the game's fiction.
I was able to see two levels. The first opens with Kane & Lynch being ambushed by Chinese SWAT while relaxing at a bar after a failed job. The duo grab weapons and fight back, escaping through the crowded streets. The action is brutal, frantic, and visceral. The YouTube style definitely makes for a unique experience, but I predict it won't appeal to everyone. Instead of grenades, Lynch can toss and shoot fire extinguishers to the same effect. Later on in the level, an exploding gas can left enemies stunned and/or dead. It was a very cool effect seeing dazed guards stumbling around added a nice contrast to the frantic gameplay.
The next level actually had us jump back in time to look at the mission right before the SWAT ambush. In this scenario, Kane & Lynch go to a rival gang's sweatshop in an attempt to rip the place off. They walk into a trap, however, and a large gunfight ensues. Lynch will be able to take enemies as human shields. At this point, he can aim and fire at other enemies or just execute his captive. If the unlucky gentleman-turned-barrier takes too many shots, he'll die, but Lynch can hang on for protection. Some enemies will hold their fire when one of their buddies is taken, but others will blast away with little to no regard for the life of their ex-friend.
All-in-all, the game looks improved over the original. Kane & Lynch 2 has been in development at IO Interactive for 2.5 years and it shows. Hopefully the lengthy development time will result in a great game. The original game's Fragile Alliance multiplayer mode will also return, but is being developed by a completely separate team at IO. This way, the main team is focused on creating the best singleplayer experience, while another team is tasked with improving on the multiplayer game. We should be seeing more from Kane & Lynch 2 at this year's GDC up in San Francisco this March. Finally, I leave you with the most recent trailer, which shows off the YouTube-style: