Friday, August 20, 2010

Kane and Lynch 2, Dog Days - ugh - put off this review for days

Really? That’s it? Am I missing something here? How do you take two of my favorite videogame characters and massively screw them up… again? Where the shit is the story? What did you do to my buds?

I’m not going to talk about the amazing art direction of Kane and Lynch 2, Dog Days. Everyone else already covered that. I love the handheld, almost voyeuristic feel of the game. It’s fresh and immersive and it works. But it’s not nearly enough. After a year of waiting for the sequel to one of my favorite games (and you can make fun of me for that all you want), after a whole year, I’m pissed. Is there even a story mode in here? I feel like I played an extended arcade more with sensational and shallow cut scenes. Did Eidos dig up an early, unproduced Guy Richie screenplay and just hit the green light. Jesus.

The plot of Kane and Lynch 2, Dog Days can be summed up pretty easily; Kane flies to Shanghai for an arms deal job with Lynch, Lynch accidently kills the daughter of a mob boss, mob kidnaps Lynch’s GF, offs her, Kane and Lynch fight off about 5,000 something gangsters and cops through a string a cliché action sequences that are downright boring. There’s no ending, which I’m normally ok with. But literally, it’s like you escape Shanghai and the console turns off. Was there just a power outage?

Yeah, the play control and cover system in the first K&L (Dead Men) was clunky. The AI was crap. I even had weird glitches when playing it through for the third time, but I still loved it. The plot was compelling and each level surprised me in a “where is this going next?” way that was genuinely exciting. The bank heist gone so very bad; escorting a kidnapped woman through a manic nightclub; repelling down a skyscraper and detonating a bomb; mowing down mercenaries in Cuba. The game felt huge and insane.

Not to mention the volatile conflict between the more professional, ex-Blackwater type Kane and pill popping, murdering Lynch. And Lynch’s hair. Brilliant. Gross. Players, if they accepted K&L Dead Men as a playable game, wanted to be these two desperately insane felons. Who wouldn’t?

Eidos blew all that capital with the new game. The conflict between Kane and Lynch is dry. There are absolutely no surprise moments or twists. The naked scene was unexpected, but didn’t affect the play control in ways that is should have. And though Shanghai felt dirty and violent, it also felt compact – more like a little Tokyo in some anywhere city. I do have to give credit to the sound. It's expertly crafted and compliments the feel of the game perfectly. Again, I want to stress that the aesthetic of Dog Days is exceptional.

Functionally, the cover system is Gears of War 1 quality with minimal environmental damage thrown in. In a game where flanking is so important, why couldn’t the cover system be more intuitive? Would it be impossible to make a character jump and pull themselves over an obstacle to quickly fire from above? An option for one-handed but less accurate, around a column fire would have been great. Duck under a car? Climb through a car to get a better advantage, but have to escape the car before it blows? It can’t be that hard to engineer in order to make the game that much better.

I don’t even want to mention the boring aiming system that made all the weapons feel identical and how the sniper rifle didn’t have a traditional scope. Tares my heart with a box cutter, it does.

Why wasn't Lynch's pill dependency exploded more? That would have made the game play and perspective shift exciting. Different pills and combinations of could make for an alteration in speed, dexterity, and aiming. It wouldn't have to be over-the-top; it could just function as a unique asset to make the title (and Lynch) stand out. And what happened to his paranoia? I liked Lynch without the girlfriend.

I’ve been putting off this review because I’ve been so bummed for the past four days. After running through the co-op story mode with a friend, I might have some new insights to the experience. For now, I’m just going to sit alone in my bedroom, pop a few pills, and reload my Mossberg.

K&L cliché’ highlight:
“We’re getting too old for this.”
Really? How many times have we heard that line? C’mon Eidos. Hire ME next time.

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