Lynch’s personal camera man is my personal hero.
When Kane & Lynch 2 was first announced, the groans of disbelief could be heard throughout the gaming population. Let’s face it, the first game had not received the warmest of welcomes and it is understandable that gamers would fear the worst of a sequel. There were some strong points to the first game, most notably the characters themselves. So I was actually quite interested to see what IO Interactive would do in this sequel. I was hoping for some big changes.
The most notable change, and perhaps the stand out feature in this game, is the visual style. It appears that Lynch has actually hired his own personal camera man to follow him around and document his life. The third person viewpoint is given a “this has been filmed on a low quality camcorder” feel, with mixed results. It makes the game feel much more gritty and realistic, but at the same time it can make for some frustrating moments when the “deliberately” bad camera work prevents the player from getting a clear view of things. The whole thing feels very cinematic and creates a great atmosphere, but I do feel that some gamers will just be irritated by the whole thing.
The story itself, whilst very short, will appeal to anyone who likes the type of hyper-violent movies that seem to be inspiration for this game. The action is fast-paced, brutal and overflowing with testosterone. Basically, Kane has traveled to Shanghai for a job with Lynch. But, as you would expect from these two, everything goes slightly pear-shaped. Cue the gun fights in dirty alleyways, restaurants, warehouses and even a bus depot. A nice feature of the new style is the “blurring” of anything considered too questionable, such as excessive wounds and nudity (possibly the most interesting part of the game is seeing Kane and Lynch run around in the nude – a classic gaming moment, I think)
The action takes the form of the usual cover taking shooter. Snapping to cover works reasonably well, but there were a few times when I found myself not getting into the cover quick enough, or getting stuck in cover. It can be a little glitchy. Which is not ideal when the AI is surprisingly competent. The enemies, who are basically everyone, are not stupid and take cover themselves, making it as difficult as possible to pick them off. A lot of the environment is destructible and the clever AI will take advantage of that fact as often as possible.
The short single player game (around six hours or so) will be a disappointment to some, but this has been bolstered by the addition of a co-op mode, allowing the player to work through the game with a buddy, either locally or online. There is also the famed fragile Alliance mode. This is playable either in arcade mode with AI, or online.
Fragile Alliance teams a group of criminals together and challenges them to head into an area, grab as much swag as possible, then get to the getaway vehicle. What makes it interesting is the opportunity for betrayal. Get to the getaway vehicle first and pay off the driver to leave everyone else there. Or just shoot some of your fellow criminals and take their swag. Either way, the phrase “trust no-one” has never been truer.
There are also two new modes included in the shape of Undercover Cop and Cops & Robbers. Cops & Robbers offers a simple deathmatch style experience, but Undercover Cop offers something new in that one of the criminals will be designated as the Cop in question and will need to take out all of the criminals, preferably without being discovered.
Playing online is a lot of fun and generally turns into a frantic shoot-out, which is never a bad thing. But the rounds seem very short and my games were personally plagued by lag issues, with other players seeming to skate across ground or disappear and reappear in other places. I am not sure that the multiplayer modes currently offer the amount of depth to make them a staple online offering, but they are certainly a lot of fun in the short term.
Anyone out there who was burnt by the first Kane & Lynch can rest assured that this game is a vast improvement over the first. It looks great, sounds great and plays great. There are some problems, but nothing that makes the game unplayable, and the visual style will take a little getting used to, but it is worth it for the cinematic experience that the player will take away from this game. If you are undecided, try out the demo and make your own mind up.