Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days Review

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is a rather straightforward third-person shooter, taking players on a linear roller-coaster ride through the seedy underbelly of Shanghai. The game begins with a get-rich-quick scheme gone wrong, and the titular duo of anti-heroes soon find themselves on the run from masses of armed thugs and cops alike as they try to protect the ones they love, exact high-caliber vengeance, and escape Shanghai intact.

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The rapid-fire nature of Kane & Lynch 2's campaign does a good job of moving the action forward, with a pervasive "out of the frying pan, into the fire" motif. Each of the game's eleven chapters conclude by presenting the player with a new, pressing objective, which undoubtedly involves shooting tons of dudes along the way.

Newcomers to the series may feel a little left out when it comes to understanding both Kane and Lynch as characters. It's easy to figure out that the guys share the action-buddy bond of friendship, but if you haven't played the first game, they end up coming across as slightly different variations of the same gun-toting psycho. Thankfully, any lack of assumed character knowledge won't get in the way of enjoying the moment-to-moment action.

The multi-player portion of Kane and Lynch 2 centers around a few different gameplay types. Campaign co-op is available, either online or split-screened. Series-pioneered 'Fragile Alliance' mode also returns, with its eight-player robberies and the option to betray your friends. 'Undercover Cop' mode (my favorite) brings a twist to 'Fragile Alliance,' with one member of the heist given the task of dispatching his crew without being detected. 'Cops and Robbers' mode is vanilla-flavored team deathmatch for up to twelve players. A pool of six smallish maps are shared by all of the four-minute multi-player modes.

At its heart, Dog Days is a bare-bones, cover-based shooter with the requisite stop-and-pop shooting and blind-firing options. You can carry a maximum of any two weapons at a time, and will constantly need to commandeer more ammo and firepower from fallen foes. Though there aren't any grenades to speak of, there are oodles of conveniently placed gas cans, fire extinguishers, and the like, which can be grabbed, thrown, and detonated with a few quick button presses.

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Dog Days' presentation (at least in the single-player portion) is its most interestingly-executed attribute. The third-person camera has a shaky, hand-held feel that makes it seem like someone is following you with a camcorder the whole time. An intense layer of visual effects complements the pseudo documentary-style camera work, from blood spattering on the lens to some very realistic-looking light-bloom effects. Intentional graphical artifacts are also present, further adding to the illusion that you're viewing the action captured on a camcorder. Some standout moments (thanks to the aforementioned effects) border on photo-realistic. It's worth noting that visual effects and 3rd-person camera position are less "extreme" in the multi-player portions of the game. Multi-player doesn't pack the same visceral punch as the campaign, but it's a practical consideration for competitive gameplay.

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days isn't deep, but it's fun. The problem is that there just isn't a whole lot to experience. Most will be able to make their way through the main storyline in less than five hours. There aren't any secrets or collectibles, and once you've played through the story once, there isn't much more to see. Multi-player extends the killing spree a bit, and though the different modes are quick, dirty fun, there are only six small maps. Some players may blast through everything Kane & Lynch 2 has to offer in a single weekend.

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days was developed by IO Interactive and is available for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. This review is based on the PS3 version.