In 2010, in a somewhat unexpected move, Kane & Lynch got a sequel. While the first game had a pretty decent ending, the whole Gamespot controversy put a black mark on the series.
Developed once again by IO Interactive, and released for Windows, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days tried to do something new. Most of the gameplay stayed the same, but now you play as Lynch. You also have the option to play online co-op mode, where the other player will take control of Kane. There is still a weapon carry limit, but now you can’t swap weapons between characters. Regenerating health is present, and if you get knocked down you still have the option of immediately getting back up. The ally AI is also here, but they are now invincible and you can no longer give them commands, which makes for a much more streamlined experience.
Cover mechanics naturally also make a comeback, and while you still get into cover by pressing a button, the game will sometimes randomly decide which cover is available or not. This can lead to some pretty frustrating situations and cheap deaths.
The story takes place four years after Dead Men, where the duo went separate ways. Lynch now has a new life in Shanghai living with his girlfriend Xiu and working for an arms dealer, Glazer. When a lucrative deal of smuggling arms to Africa comes up, Lynch contacts Kane as backup, in return for a cut in the deal.
Kane accepts since there is enough money for him to retire, and also helps his daughter Jenny, who survived the events of the first game.
But, this wouldn’t be a Kane & Lynch game if the things didn’t go horribly wrong, and pretty soon they find each other not only chased by the Triads but police and military as well.
Dog Days isn’t a globe-trotting adventure like the first game, and instead, the entire game takes place in Shanghai. The presentation of Shanghai is wonderfully done, and it serves as a great background to fulfill the atmosphere of despair, dread, loneliness, and violence. Since both Kane and Lynch are new to the city, the game skillfully portrays them as outcasts. Here they are sticking out like a sore thumb, trying and failing to understand how things are done, and desperately trying to get out. In essence, Shanghai feels like a prison, or as Kane puts it “It’s fucked. I hate it”.
The city in a way is also hostile to them, unwelcoming and they’ll never get to see its finer parts. The beginning of the game sees our duo in a poorer part of the town, with lots of people, trash, and crime. As the game progresses, you will see other parts of the city, but all of it is blocked off to them, and the only time they see a nicer part of the city is by force and even then they’re sowing chaos and destruction.
The biggest part of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, isn’t the gameplay, but its presentation.
Its visual style is inspired by documentary footage and footage recorded on a cheap handheld camera, complete with plenty of camera shakes and footage artifacts. Also, random jump-cuts are cleverly used to progress the story, giving off the impression that you’re following Kane and Lynch during their mayhem. If you die, the “cameraman” dies as well, and the camera will shut down.
While the presentation is unique, it can also get annoying, but thankfully the game gives you the option of turning off the camera effects.
The music and voice acting are also great, and the soundtrack is a mix of original compositions and several licensed songs. One of the most surprising parts of the game is actually the main menu of the game. Both the music and the videos give a sense of calm, which is a complete antithesis to the game’s violence and destruction.
No matter how good the presentation is, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days suffers from fairly mediocre gameplay. For an IO Interactive game, it’s surprisingly basic and has too many annoyances and issues to make it a smooth ride. The biggest issue is the cover system, as already mentioned. The other issues are the accuracy and hit detection, especially when it comes to anything above a pistol. While pistols are fairly accurate, the SMGs and Assualt Rifles are all over the place. You could aim at the enemy, and Lynch apparently can’t hit anything at times. You also have the option of tossing and shooting fire extinguishers and gas cans that will act as improvised explosives. Also, for whatever reason, the most dangerous enemy in the game, are the attack dogs, which can kill you in one or two bites.
In addition to the online co-op mode, the game also has multiplayer modes, but with a few twists. Fragile Alliance makes a return but it’s expanded with two new modes, Undercover Cop and Cops and Robbers. The goal is to escape with as much money as possible, all the while fighting cops and potential traitors. Undercover Cop mode will see one of the players tasked with stopping the robbers, while Cops and Robbers are pretty much self-explanatory.
The multiplayer is still available to play, and there is even a small community that plays and organizes matches from time to time. There are three DLCs available, and all of them give you more weapons and cosmetic items for multiplayer.
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days was received mainly with mixed reviews, but still managed to sell over 1 million copies. The biggest criticism of the game was the short single-player campaign (it only lasts for 4 hours), and the lack of memorable levels. Lynch’s psychotic outbursts were also toned down, as he was taking medication, which in turn erased some of the character charms from the first game.
Since the game is set in Shanghai, where you fight the police and later the military, Dog Days was naturally banned in China. In addition to this, the producers were sued in China for “vilifying” the Chinese people.
While its campaign is really short, it’s kinda a blessing in disguise for this game. The main reason to play this game is to experience the unique style that it has to offer. It’s difficult and risky to try something new, and even though the game was deemed a failure by many, I would still commend the developers for trying something new.