Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days Review

There’s a primal urge in a man’s psyche that occasionally demands release from the shackles imposed by modern society and civil morality. It is the instinct to embody the wild animal within and exist as a raw, unmitigated force seeking survival in a harsh, hostile environment. As one of the last missions in Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days puts it: Kill or be killed.

Essentially, this visceral feeling is the primary appeal of Kane & Lynch 2. The intentional lack of refinement in the game’s characters, plot, presentation, and mechanics is as harsh as a kick in the throat, and sets off a survival response made possible by the virtual reality the game creates, leaving the player to do little else throughout this action-packed, overwhelming, in-too-deep experience than pull the trigger and avoid getting hit himself, which is no easy task in the storm the game creates.

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

The mechanics are raw: third-person gunplay in Dog Days is more cumbersome than in other games of its type, the cover system doesn’t always operate as smoothly as one would hope, aim is imprecise, and simply navigating 3D space is just a bit clumsier than standard, presumably because of the shaky, surveillance-style camera and up-close perspective. Lynch is always surrounded, always getting hit, and always struggling to take down his foes; his character flaws extend beyond excessive use of profanity, mental instability, and poor conditioning right into the game’s mechanics. The player can tell he’s not James Bond or Navy Seal number three-hundred forty-whatever during Lynch’s personal motivational monologues or as he’s shot to the floor and must spray bursts of rounds from his back to fend off foes before getting up and hopefully back into what is likely destructible cover, all while drops of blood splatter on the screen. Lynch could be any man, and Dog Days‘ virtual Shanghai could be any city. The fiction is intense, but it gives the player the feeling that it could potentially be real, and thus provides the conditions necessary to easily fall into the protagonist’s shoes and into the modern wild to kill or be killed.

And that’s what the game is. Three multiplayer modes (Fragile Alliance, Undercover Cop, and Cops & Robbers) and a co-op mode incorporate theft, treason, and a bit of teamwork, but Kane & Lynch 2 is, at its core, about nihilistic violence and vulgarity. It’s a game of release, a game of nothing. "Dog days," taken to mean a period of stagnation and lack of progress, is in fact quite a fitting description for this title, as from the opening scene to the closing credits, nothing is accomplished by Kane nor Lynch, despite the high toll of lead and blood paid along the way.

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

Perhaps such ugly action should only be viewed through an equally ugly lens. In the case of Kane & Lynch 2, IO Interactive has implemented a camera that suffers from blur, glare, lens flare, and digital artifacting that instantly sets it apart from other titles, but also looks downright terrible at times. It was a stylistic choice to augment the feelings of realism and being right in the thick of the action, which it does, but there are moments when one can’t help but wonder if the graphics are simply broken, particularly regarding the arguably overused pixelation effect. The camera serves its purpose and contributes to everything this gritty game intends to make the player feel, but it unequivocally could have been done better.

Kane & Lynch 2 is oddly both a banal and isolate production. While it innovates with its presentation and creates an atmosphere unlike most any other title, it still remains a standard pulp shooter with regard to level structure, narrative, and most of its play mechanics. The game’s story mode ends abruptly, but appropriately, leaving three interesting and atypical multiplayer options to take over the special brand of emotionless violence presented throughout. The experience is primal, like giving in to instinct, and its unrefined nature can make it either fundamentally enjoyable or repulsive, depending on its audience’s frame of mind… or state of mindlessness.

3 out of 5


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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