When we got our first look at Kane & Lynch 2 in January, the focus of developer IO Interactive's presentation was the game's YouTube-inspired visual aesthetic. Thankfully, our second encounter was more about the gameplay, as we were let loose in Shanghai to try the game for the first time. The campaign director, Karsten Lund, was also on hand to show off a new section from the story mode, as Kane and Lynch escorted a criminal overlord through a highway ambush.
Our demo started with Lund showing off a new section of the game, which takes place roughly a third of the way through the main campaign. Kane and Lynch were in the back of a saloon car, with the camera pointing up from the center seat, almost like an undercover filming. The duo were bickering with evil crime boss Glazer about a weapons deal and were also engaged in more general banter about Shanghai, with one character saying, "It's f****ed, I hate it." Then, the car got rammed from the side, and after some vehicular tussling, Kane and Lynch got out of the car to take down a gang, accompanying the cowardly Glazer as his driver navigated the chaos.
The attack was orchestrated by a group of criminals with bags over their heads, who piled out of unmarked vans and used the surrounding cars for cover. It was a frantic slice of gameplay--goons came flying in on motorbikes, and enemies tossed explosives to flush Kane and Lynch out of cover, all while Glazer was pleading for them to save him in his annoying English accent. Through the chaos, we noticed some nice environmental touches--civilians could be seen cowering in their vehicles, while Shanghai's famous pedal bikes were littering the sidewalks.
The highway chase made its way into an abandoned car park, where Lund, playing as Lynch, chased down the remaining gang. The confined space made for some interesting combat tactics--Lund was able to pick up fire extinguishers, toss them at enemies, and then shoot them in midair to create an explosion. The resulting blast then set off car alarms in the vicinity and interfered with the shaky handheld camera that was following the action.
Shortly after leaving the car park, Lund was gunned down in the street, at which point he ended his demo and loaded up the Shanghai restaurant scene that we'd seen during the first unveiling of the game. Lund handed the controller over to us, and we were let loose to actually play for the first time. The section we played was identical to what we saw in January, but it allowed us to get a feel for the gameplay.
Kane & Lynch 2 plays a lot like a standard cover-based shooter, but with a frantic, improvisational feel. Ammo is extremely limited, so you need to keep picking up new weapons from your adversaries. Some cover is destructible, such as the wooden panels separating the tables in the restaurant, meaning you have to keep moving to stay safe. If you are exposed, Lynch will sometimes fall to the ground if he's shot, although you can desperately shoot from your handicapped position before making a run for cover. You can also use the environment--taking hostages for protection, for example. If you murder a hostage in front of the police, they will reel back in shock--a realistic reaction which will buy you a couple of seconds of extra time.
In keeping with IO Interactive's other games, Kane & Lynch 2 isn't easy. We died a few times before making it out of the Shanghai restaurant, and Lund suffered the same fate during his highway demo. While we didn't get to see it, Lund did talk a little bit about the multiplayer in the game, promising that it will "add a whole lot more to the Kane & Lynch package." A multiplayer event is promised ahead of the game's release, so expect more details on the new version of the Fragile Alliance game mode, as well as all the new multiplayer modes, when we next take a look at the game.
Kane & Lynch 2 is set for release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on August 27. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more information as we get it.