We’ve taken several looks at the multiplayer components that make up Kane & Lynch’s newest escapade, but to date, we haven’t spent a lot of time with the main story. This time around, we dive headfirst into the single-player campaign with the goal of tying up some of the loose ends to discover where it all began.
The game opens with a hard-hitting cutscene, and while we can’t go into specifics of what goes down, it sets the gritty tone for this sequel and gives us a brief glimpse into the rocky relationship between the namesake duo. Gameplay begins with establishing shots of the game’s new location, downtown Shanghai, where dirty, busy streets frame Lynch who is patiently waiting for his accomplice to arrive.
Stepping off a plane and dragging a small rolling suitcase behind him, Kane is there for a job. No details of the work are discussed, and while Kane would rather hit the shower and take a nap after a long flight, there’s business to take care of before he can retire to the comfort of a cozy hotel room. Lynch needs to settle a score and send a message to a local thug that actions have consequences. After a short stride through the neighborhood in a tight over-the-shoulder view, they head down an alley. The camera bobs gently in time with their slow, deliberate movements. Kicking in a door to a second-story residence, a man and his naked (but tastefully pixelated) companion are unceremoniously disturbed mid-coital embrace. A friendly house call quickly escalates into an on-foot chase peppered with gunfire as the man and his now hostage take flight through the building.
Clearing rooms with gun in hand, we’re presented with surprisingly relaxed local inhabitants going about their business. Out in the hallway, deadly exchanges take place as we duck, weave, and use concrete supports as makeshift cover. Cutting a path through the armed attackers that greet us, we eventually corner our target in a cul-de-sac. With nowhere left to go and the options for escape quickly narrowing, our mark uses his prisoner as a human shield. Bullets riddle her corpse as Kane and Lynch pump round after round into her, leaving the man exposed and brandishing a knife. Rather than surrender, in a final act of defiance, he cuts his own throat to spite the pair.
The conclusion dovetails into a cutscene with us riding in the backseat of a car. A perfectly civilized conversation about the merits of the city is rudely interrupted when our vehicle rolls sharply, hit by some unseen force. Seconds later, we’re outside and exchanging bullets with assailants. Ambushed by a local crime group, our job is to stay alive and protect our contact; British gentleman, Glazer. Assault pistols make short work of gangsters in confined spaces, but with us pinned down behind abandoned cars and trucks and unwilling to take a run to our certain death, we opt for artillery with a little more range and power. Shotguns and rifles shred our targets, but ammunition is few and far between. Faces are blown off as we slowly inch forward, making every round count. Clearing a path down an off-ramp, the scrimmage spills into a nearby underground car park where we call in a replacement ride for the one that was destroyed.
The rolling battle continues into nearby multistory buildings, and we tussle violently with mobsters and police units dispatched to the scene before finally making a getaway, leaving a trail of corpses in our wake.
After clearing our way through a nearby sweatshop, we locate and confront local crime boss, Hsing. Things turn nasty when it’s revealed that the woman slain in our previous encounter was more than your average garden-variety girlfriend and was actually the daughter of the city’s biggest crime leader. The news instantly causes stress fractures to the small posse, and in the blink of an eye, we go from ally to prize, with hopes of being turned over--dead or alive--to appease the crime family who has been wronged.
After another narrow escape, Lynch reaches out to his partner, Xiu, for a meeting. Kane and Lynch come to terms with their hunted status by bunkering down in a nearby restaurant. Even something as simple as sharing a meal ends in bloodshed, and in the middle of having noodles, the abandoned eatery erupts as heavily armed police storm the building. The thin wooden walls of the booths provide little protection against the automatic rifles their attackers are carrying, and the wood splinters and collapses under a hale of bullets. Dashing to safety as our cover disintegrates before us, we use the ventilation in the furniture to return fire.
Back on the streets, we attempt to blend in, but we don't go unnoticed as locals run away from the men in suits carrying guns. A brief sojourn into a roadside DVD stall for cover finds wall-to-wall racks tastefully showcasing copies of Io Interactive titles like Hitman and Mini Ninjas. Igniting a cache of gas canisters destroys a building, rocking the game camera and allowing us to slip away undetected toward a nearby industrial zone. A helicopter circles overhead as we hide to avoid detection.
From our brief time with the controller, we’re happy to report that gunplay is enjoyable, albeit a little frustrating if you’re running around with the wrong tools for the job. Weapons dropped by dead attackers aren’t immediately obvious onscreen unless you run over them, but by pressing down on the D pad, all nearby usable items will be displayed to allow you to replenish your ammo stores or swap a less desirable piece of kit for something with a bit more subtlety or raw firepower.
The game’s bobbing camera is already polarizing the gamer community, but the good news is that it can be toggled on or off according to your preference. Character models and environments are rich and detailed, and they contrast well with the grainy video look, giving the game a bit of a Manhunt feel.
With the shells loaded and the ammo clips ready to rock, we're eager to get some more time with Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days in the lead-up to its late August release.