|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: IO Interactive||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Eidos Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: August 17, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
February 17, 2010 - A little over two years ago, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men got a very lukewarm reception from most game critics. Many thought that the game's story and interesting characters were great but the gameplay just wasn't all there. Having never gotten around to playing through the finished title myself, I really couldn't say one way or the other. However, what I can tell you is that it looks like IO Interactive is really going out of their way to fix many of the areas of criticism leveled against Dead Men and even adding a unique visual style to their upcoming sequel, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days.
Unfortunately, I already have a complaint to file against this game. The name is completely wrong. While Dead Men was a game centered around Kane and his dealings with The7, with Lynch playing a constant second fiddle, Dog Days is set to place Lynch on the center stage. So for a more accurate name they might have wanted to switch the characters' names to reflect this change. Of course, this is a petty gripe, but with everything I've seen of Dog Days thus far, this is the only one I could muster.
Dog Days will be taking place a few years after the events of Dead Men. Lynch has found himself living in Shanghai and working for a crime syndicate, while Kane has seen fit to make a new life with his daughter. When Lynch is confronted with the opportunity for a big job involving a ton of cash, he calls up Kane and convinces him to come and help out. Seeing only dollar signs and the opportunity to provide a better life for his daughter, Kane accepts and the duo is back together again, which is usually when everything goes bad.
As you may remember from the first title, Kane was a very logical and tactical sort of man. In stark contrast was Lynch, a pill-popping psychopath who was more likely to freak out and kill everything moving than to give a second thought to what he was doing. However, if you were delusional and seeing policemen with animal heads, you probably wouldn't give too much thought to tactics either. Since you'll be directly controlling Lynch this time around instead of Kane, you can expect the feel of the gameplay to directly reflect the differences between these characters.
The shootouts in Dog Days are said to be more impulsive, focusing more on your ability to react to what's thrown at you rather than tactics. Some of the major concerns with Dead Men including the cover system, aiming, shooting, and the way the A.I. handled itself are also all supposed to be much improved. After reading all of the reviews and negative feedback they received about Dead Men's gameplay, IO Interactive have reportedly put a lot of work into making sure that the cover system works much better, aiming and shooting are much less floaty and more accurate, and that the A.I. will behave much more realistically. Given that no one's been able to get their hands on a playable version of this game yet, these are statements that are yet to be substantiated. Of course, given the company's track record with the Hitman franchise, which seemed to get progressively better as the series went along, this doesn't seem to be that large a leap of faith to take.
Further differentiating itself from Dead Men, Dog Days will be incorporating a dramatically different visual style. While most video games attempt to approach realistic visuals from a more traditional point of view, trying to make everything on-screen look as close to real life as possible, Dog Days is instead taking its inspiration and definition of realistic directly from YouTube and other user-generated videos. The game will still be played from a third-person, over-the-shoulder viewpoint, but it will feel more like someone following your character with a handheld camera than the traditionally static third-person camera. This results in a perspective more akin to films such as Cloverfield, which is something that hasn't really been tried in many video games before.
A shaky camera perspective is only part of Dog Days' new aesthetic, with a plethora of other effects also working in conjunction to pull off this new user-generated video visual style. When you get shot, the screen may show digital artifacts or even cut out for a brief period of time. Explosions can also cause the screen to get choppy and briefly cut out. Close ups of extreme carnage, such as someone getting their face blown off, will sometimes be heavily pixelated, making it look as though it is being censored as if it were being broadcast on television. You'll also notice a very low quality feel to the overall visuals, given off by some excessive film grain as well as frequent light blurring that you might think would make the game look terrible, but in actuality it appears to works rather well. Completing this style, Dog Days will also not load between levels but will instead buffer, which is a fairly unimportant but nice touch.
Another major complaint about Dead Men that has been addressed in Dog Days is the inclusion of online co-op. The first time around players were only able to play split-screen with a friend, but now you'll have your choice of tackling the game's single-player campaign using either split-screen or online co-op. Dead Men's interesting Fragile Alliance multiplayer will also be making a return, although no official details have yet been given as to any changes or additions that we can expect. Instead, IO Interactive has only stated that there will be some new mechanics and surprises to be had.
While it would have been easy to get away with just tweaking a few gameplay issues, polishing up the graphics, creating a new campaign, and adding a '2' to the box, it looks like IO Interactive is really trying to improve upon what Dead Men had to offer players. The new user-generated visual style of the game truly looks interesting and will hopefully provide a very unique and immersive experience. We'll have to wait until we get a chance to get our hands on the title before we'll know for sure, but so far things are already looking up for Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days.
CCC News Director