Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days – First Look Preview – Console news

A life of crime might get you decades in the slammer but, if the plot behind IO Interactive’s Kane & Lynch series is anything to go by, then at least there’s the opportunity for some travelling when you’re on the outside. The Danish developer’s 2007 original, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, had the pair flip-flopping between Los Angeles and Tokyo in the first half of the game – before they moved on to Havana and Venezuela during the latter stages – while this incoming sequel takes place in the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, China. It’s the city’s population density that’s precisely the reason why IO has chosen Shanghai as Kane & Lynch 2’s setting (not because it has the smallest¬† range of recorded temperatures of any densely populated area in the world, between 19.4 degrees Celsius at its coldest and 35.8 degrees Celsius at its hottest).

Interesting factoids aside, TVG isn’t a travel website (despite rumours to the contrary), so here’s a lowdown on Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days’ back-story to explain this location: while the first game placed Kane in the starring role as he attempted to track down the whereabouts of his daughter and escape The7, this sequel focuses on Lynch. During our first look, IO was keen to point out the different character traits that Lynch offers. As was clear from the first game, Lynch is a medicated psychopath (something that troublingly formed a minor gameplay dynamic in Dead Men), which is why IO describes him as a man who improvises under pressure, with little or no military planning; a criminal who’s often irrational and, above all else, is just trying to survive (aren’t we all).

Lynch has been hiding out in Shanghai to lay low from the feds and this is where the city’s population density comes in, as it’s harder for the authorities to track him down there. While taking up residence in the city, Lynch does some work for a British gangster called Glazer. Nonetheless, Kane manages to reunite with Lynch in what IO is describing as “a simple job gone wrong”, and the two of them manage to get wanted by the police. As with the first game, the dynamic duo of Kane and Lynch turns out to be more of an inadvisable mixing of nitrogen and glycerol to form a dynamite partnership that could explode at any moment. The result in Kane & Lynch 2 is a frantic chase that goes on for two days and two nights.

So that’s the back-story. The game itself looks unique, which is a word that’s far too overused in the game industry when, ironically, there are very few games that can be described in that way. In this case however, we can honestly say that we’ve never seen a game that uses a YouTube-style visual filter. As the initial teaser trailers for Kane & Lynch 2 hinted, IO Interactive is going for a kind of CCTV style depiction of the action in this sequel. On top of different forms of camera direction, such as an over-pronounced shaky cam effect that makes Gears of War’s sprint cam look like a Stanley Kubrick or David Lynch flick, IO has adopted a grainy filter on top of the visuals to make the gamer feel like an impartial observer of the action. By the developer’s own admittance, it has been looking at YouTube videos to replicate the kind of blocky artefacting that’s synonymous with the website’s content, and applying this style directly to the game.

This results in something considerably less gimmicky and markedly more immersive than initially expected. On top of this comes other strong improvements to the series in areas such as sound and AI, which make for a lightning fast pace to Kane & Lynch 2 that was lacking in the original. Quite simply, we’ve never heard a silenced weapon sound quite as exquisite as the effects made possible in our first look at K&L 2, while the AI seems much more aggresive than it was in Dead Men with noticeable flanking that applies pressure to move between cover quickly. Similarly, improved destructible environments from the first game (where the destruction was little more than cosmetic) also help to up the ante, ensuring that even if the AI isn’t flanking, then at least it’s quickly destroying any cover that Lynch is cowering behind.

This appears to complement IO’s decision to apply a traditional button-operated cover system for K&L 2, which replaces the Dead Men system that automatically stuck Kane up against nearby walls. Although developers have experimented with these ‘sticky’ cover systems with some success on current-gen systems, we’ve got to say that the standard button pressing dynamic is still the most solid and reassuring option for our money. Additionally, promises of a ‘Down not Dead’ feature for K&L 2 should help to make an already frantic looking game even more raucous by allowing players to continue fighting even when they’re crippled on the ground. This, coupled with the adrenaline shot revival system from the first game, guarantees that the game will at least boast some basic co-op features, although we’re hoping for a few more in the final build.

One thing that IO Interactive got more right in Kane & Lynch: Dead Men than any developer has managed since is the inspired Fragile Alliance multiplayer mode. This was one of the most original multiplayer modes to grace any shooter of the last decade, with superbly balanced gameplay and an ingenious risk/reward system to boot. One thing’s for sure, it put the endlessly repeated offerings of capture the flag, king of the hill, and deathmatches to shame. Gamers will be pleased to hear, then, that Fragile Alliance will make a return as an 8 player co-op heist mode (we use the term co-op loosely here) in Kane & Lynch 2 when the series returns later this year. A more genuine co-op experience will also be applied to the main campaign (as it was with the first game), allowing a second gamer to play as Kane alongside Lynch, either on or offline this time around.¬†At this stage in development, Kane & Lynch 2 appears to be shoring up the gameplay elements that were left adrift with the first game. Third-person shooter fundamentals such as cover, AI, and environment appear to have been approached head-on by the developer in an attempt to cast aside the faults of the 2007 original. Although the most significant innovations appear to come from the game’s visuals, it’s reassuring to know that IO is focusing on nailing down the game’s foundations before it goes for the big money, back-of-the-box features.

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