Will Preston

All style and no substance. A First Look at Kane & Lynch 2 Dog Days

by on Aug.21, 2010, under First Look

Giving a new meaning to the genre of “casual shooter”

What the hell is going on with Square Enix today? No longer content with simply releasing JRPGs over and over again, this publishing company has already engulfed Eidos in its blubbery mass in a scene similar to the climax of Akira. A big amorphous blob squeezing more Tomb Raider, Deus Ex and Hitman until it bursts under pressure. Not that it could be a bad thing. Well, for Lara Croft it’s been over for a decade. Style over substance doesn’t cut it, young lady. And here’s another game that’s good on the eyes, but not on the imagination.

I never really got around to playing the first Kane & Lynch game. Every now and again I keep wondering whether I should give it a go, but it just doesn’t seem to present itself in the ways I want it to. On the contrary, the games presentation seems to be its finest point. I say finest point, it looks like its only focus from what I hear. This stopped me from buying it. Not even the £10 price tag in the second hand shop could tempt me. And now the sequel is set for release later this month.

I suppose now is the chance to see what kind of game the first one was like. If anything, the sequel should be a more improved version of it, shouldn’t it? As soon as the introduction movie rolls, I can tell that my standards on good graphics will be further raised beyond the monolithic plinth where they’ve rested nicely since most games began to look the same. It’s amazing. It looks incredible. You can’t mince your words on how well rendered the visuals are. The characters look real, the settings are so grimy you could taste it. For some bizarre reason this also a cameraman (our view on the character we control, I suppose) on the scene. That would explain the shaky cam ‘technique’ being used.

Probably the closest I’ve ever come to motion sickness in a game.

All these expectations came hurtling down faster than Gary Glitter’s record sales at the end of the Twentieth century. The game is a clunky Gears of War. That’s it. You run, hide behind cover and shoot people who, for reasons not adequately looked into, shoot at you. Your partner helps outs at times, but I was so preoccupied with flying shrapnel placing me back at the start every 10 seconds.

I spent 95% of the demo running around and shooting, but all of this was a bit of an uphill struggle. Not a challenge, an uphill struggle. Every now and again, I would die and have to restart that one section again, losing passion to play each time. This may sound a tad hypocritical coming from a FPS player, but at least most FPS’s add a bit of zazz, variety and a reason to continue despite constant death. This was running and shooting in the most linear fashion, where dying became second nature.

The visuals were stunning, but ended up being the scenery of something monotonous like looking out of the window on a long car journey. As well as Clover-cam, the screen was pixelated at certain moving parts to give the further impression that there was a cameraman following you. That’s right; instead of relying on good graphics for presentation alone, they shoot themselves in the foot by smudging all over it with this ‘feels like you’re there’ gimmick. It doesn’t make me feel like I’m there, it makes me question what density the cameraman’s body is.

Christ, it’s just like the second half of District 9.

The other 5% of the demo was spent using a guard as a human shield against nothing and opening doors. At one point after a particularly predictable and frustrating fire fight, my player says to his wingman “The next street is heavily crowded, so play it cool.” I don’t need to tell you that at the next moment on that street, two dodgy and blood covered strangers (our heroes) walk out holstering fully automatic rifles. As if subtlety wasn’t hiding you gun, but merely not shooting it?

The demo ended abruptly, giving me nothing more to want the game. Just a montage of more and more linear gun fights, each more linear than the last. There’s a multiplayer option too, but I don’t hold out much hope for it.

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