Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days Preview
We get some hands on time with Square Enix and IO Interactive's latest.
The streets of Shanghai in present day are calm, quiet. No sense of chaos threatens the world sociopath Lynch now lives in. He seems happy, he's on medication, and he's found a love interest that he clearly cares a lot for. It's not really important how or why Lynch became the target of every authority in the city and given the limited information we've seen so far we can't honestly tell you why Kane was compelled to join up with his not-so-right-in-the-head companion, but either way it has happened. The demo we played, which is an extended version of the demo that is to release next week, put us right in the thick of things. A simple meeting at a resturant suddenly becomes a bloodbath when out of nowhere authorities start shooting at us. We take control of Lynch with faithful companion Kane watching our back (he will be controllable through online and offline co-op in the final release).
The first thing you'll notice about Kane & Lynch 2 (KL2) is that the graphical style emulates low bitrate streaming video seen on sites like "youtube" and at first glance looks like the visuals are horrible. After a few disjarring moments you start to feel like you're actually in the restaurant with the character you're controlling, bulletfire and all. KL2 has undergone several improvements and the first that we noticed was a very intelligent enemy AI that was capable of flanking, shooting out destructible cover, and holding position until the moment is right. Squad-based mechanics from the first title have been left behind and no trace of them remains, instead it's just two guys trying to survive.
After a painstaking shootout in the restaurant we take to the streets, sprinting with a bouncing camera angle that was surprisingly easy to adjust to, and eventually ending in a massive shootout on city streets. This was the first time we got to use the human shield defense that allows you to clean house without several people shooting at you from all angles. This tactic came in handy on several occasions and we get the feeling it will be vital in later and more difficult stages in the game. Our demo continued into various locales involving DVD stores, construction yards, and even a setup ambush. Every step of the way demanded strategy and a defensive attitude.
So far this looks above and beyond a drastic overhaul of the original and while I personally enjoyed the first Kane & Lynch, most people never even played it. This updated title seems to have a little bit for everyone with an aggressive AI, online co-op, and unique visual style. The action is intense and the shootouts will make you much more cautious about jumping into a situation head-on. We still had a problem with the idea that you have to press a button to pick up ammo for guns you already have - shouldn't you always want more ammo? We also didn't like the fact that most of the situations thrown at us had quick and cheap deaths that would never occur if you know what's coming next. All in all, however, Kane & Lynch 2 is shaping up to be a welcome opener to the fall's releases and we look forward to seeing more.
Of the most compelling pieces of the original Kane & Lynch's multiplayer was the "fragile alliance" mode where eight people join into a bank robbery together. After opening the safe you have the choice of escorting your peers out or trying to take them out strategically to get a larger cut of the take. This mode appears to be the focus of the sequel but now with various distinguished alterations. The one mode we got to play other than the one from the original involved an undercover police officer. One of the members of the heist is actually an undercover cop who's trying to take out all of the other members without being detected or taken out themself. None of the officers will shoot at the undercover, but from our experience that doesn't make them any easier to detect. In both games we played the officer came out on top, suggesting that perhaps there's a balance issue in the game, but nonetheless it's an interesting addition to the already strong and distinct multiplayer mode.