I refer to Kane and Lynch: Dead Men regularly. For me it set the benchmark for mediocrity (see SPOnG's review here). It's the most middle of the road game in recent memory. A bog standard third person shooter with an average story line, uninspiring artistic flare and so-so characters. It was in no way a bad game, it just fell very short of being any good.
What made the whole project even more embarrassing, was the marketing campaign behind it. If you're going to plaster advertising on every billboard, between every TV show and all over every other gaming website I visit, you best have a cracking game to back it up. Eidos and IO Interactive (now part of Square Enix) didn't. All this made the lacklustre effort seem a hell of a lot worse than it really was, and in turn, made a mockery of the lead characters Kane and Lynch.
As if creating a decent third-person shooter in this day and age wasn't hard enough, to try and do it off the back of a tainted debut was going to make things a hell of a lot harder. So arise Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days
, let's see how we get on.
The first step taken from mediocrity, lies within the visuals. The graphics have had a well needed overhaul since the first outing but again seem to fall a little short of what is currently expected in a full priced 'next-gen' title. The textures look flat and lifeless, the environments vary from stunning to shocking and the colours look to plain and dull.
However it's the way the game is presented that's quite interesting, with the player getting to view all the action from what seems to be a camera man following Lynch throughout. This allows for a few nice touches such as pixelating the extremely gory moments; light realistically flaring off the lens, and the camera ducking and diving to avoid the bullets whizzing past both Lynch's and, I've got to assume, our poor cameraman's head.
It reminds me of “not quite award winning” TV show Ross Kemp in Afghanistan
but with a gun wielding nutcase replacing the middle class actor shitting himself when he hears someone pull a party popper.
These artistic blasts are nice for the opening five minutes but soon you'll realise that they hinder more than impress. For example, despite the lighting being realistic and wonderful to look at, if you're hiding behind a desk with a lamp on it, the bright light will create such a strong lens distortion that you'll be unable to see further than the lamp itself. Before you know it there is a bullet in your head.
The camera movement albeit surprisingly realistic and non repetitive will leave even the hardened gamer with a headache. It's as though the director sat down to watch Cloverfield
, pulled out a little notebook from his jacket pocket and wrote the words “Needs more shake” before returning said notebook and sparking up a cigar the size of a saveloy. Thankfully there is an option to turn the shaking camera off in the menu and I'd strongly suggest that you do.
With all these little nitpicky moments I started to question why the documentary style was chosen in the first place. It doesn't add much to the atmosphere or tension, in fact if anything it removes both. It also seems out of place in terms of the plot. Why would two blood thirsty maniacs let a nerd with a handicam follow them about everywhere? And why in God's name would he go back and pixelate any nipples caught on tape?
The gunplay isn't the worst I've ever seen, despite the poor enemy AI leaving you few options in terms of tactical approach. Shooting at distance can be a little bit of a pain with so little to choose from in terms of the more accurate weaponry and seeing as most of the gunfights take place along long streets with plenty of cover. It seems a bit strange to have to wait until the fifth level before getting behind some of the better range weapons.