Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days super review

  • Grueling, methodical firefights, if that's your thing
  • Multiplayer and arcade modes can be addictive
  • Shooting up an office building is unusually fun
  • Kane and Lynch themselves
  • Getting betrayed at the last second in multiplayer
  • Uneven difficulty often spikes to ridiculous levels

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days isn’t a fantastic game. Its visuals are great, combining a careful attention to gritty detail with a shakycam-filled, YouTube-inspired presentation that makes it unlike any other game we can think of. The clumsy action of the first game has been streamlined into a straightforward, no-frills, cover-centric shooter that’s like Gears of War without the chainsaws (or most of the arsenal, actually), and your enemies are smart, tough and fast enough to keep you from getting too complacent behind cover.

It’s when you combine all those elements with the game’s story and characters that it starts to falter. Kane & Lynch 2 follows its titular goons – a couple of uncharismatic, intentionally unlikable criminals who spend most of the game grumbling the word “fuck” at each other – through the streets of Shanghai after a seemingly insignificant botched job leads to the entire city breathing down their necks. Oh, and this time around, you play as balding psychopath Lynch (who’s gotten his mental illness mostly under control) instead of mercenary Kane.

That’s really all you need to know, because in spite of its lavish presentation, snappy writing and stellar acting, the story – like the gameplay – cuts straight to the point: Kane and Lynch are in deep shit, and the only way to get them out of said shit is to gun down an army of cops, gangsters and soldiers. There isn’t any elaborate backstory to delve into, or even any secondary characters that stick around long enough for you to get attached. There’s no redemption, no real attempt to make the characters interesting, and no sense of triumph when they win. There isn’t even really an ending. There’s just a couple of fragile cretins you're supposed to empathize with, a bunch of dudes for them to joylessly shoot and a whole lot of dingy-but-super-detailed environments to marvel at through the game’s hazy grain filter.

If that doesn’t already sound like a good time, then you’re probably not going to find a whole lot to like about Kane & Lynch 2’s story mode.

Less flash, more bang

If, on the other hand, you couldn’t give a rat’s ass about story or characters and just want a brutal, intentionally ugly, tough-as-nails shooter to slog through, then you’ll probably enjoy Dog Days for the five or so hours its story lasts. Most of what didn’t work about the first game’s action has been thrown out; the aiming’s improved, the menu system’s been simplified, and pretty much anything not related to shooting has been tossed altogether rather than improved (so long, rappelling).

Above: Also, dogs! 

What’s left is a fine-tuned (but occasionally finicky) sticky-cover system that allows for blindfiring, a simple two-gun inventory (which you can fill with a wide array of pistols, submachine guns, shotguns and assault rifles) and the ability to take human shields if you can get close enough to an enemy without them just killing you. It’s also pretty common, when you’re near death, to get knocked to the ground, which momentarily takes you out of your enemies’ direct line of fire and gives you a chance to gun them down before they realize what’s happened. Or to scramble back behind cover so you can regenerate your health. Whichever.

Above: Gamertags blurred to protect the traitorous 

There aren’t any grenades, though, and that’s kind of a pain in the ass, because there are plenty of moments when you’ll face down a swarm of bad guys and desperately want to use one. Instead, you’ll have to rely on finding things like fire extinguishers and propane canisters, which can be picked up, thrown and detonated with a shot. The nice thing about these is that you don’t have to aim to detonate them; wherever they land, your next shot will make them explode.
That just leaves Kane. Unlike in the first game, you’ll never issue your partner commands; instead, he’ll just follow you around and aggressively gun down whatever enemies he sees. He’s also more or less unkillable, so you never have to worry about rescuing him from bad situations – except for the one time that you do.

Above: This happens 

That one time…

While Dog Days is mostly about Kane and Lynch thudding their way through one crowded firefight after another, it takes a few interesting detours, although these are rare. Twice, you’ll briefly fight alongside a squad of allies who soak up bullets for you. Another time, you’ll need to sneak around naked, unarmed and bleeding to rescue Kane and find a gun. And at one point, you’ll snipe masked bad guys who are trying to snatch Lynch’s girlfriend off a balcony, one of the few points at which the duo fight to protect anyone but themselves.

More Info

Release date: Aug 17 2010 - PS3, Xbox 360, PC (US)
Aug 20 2010 - PS3, Xbox 360, PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Genre: Action
Published by: Eidos
Developed by: Io Interactive
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language
PEGI Rating:


  • sTuCkU10x - August 26, 2010 12:38 p.m.

    oh @ElGrinchoid, i agree wit price dropping
  • sTuCkU10x - August 26, 2010 12:23 p.m.

    What I was looking for was it to be better than the first. I feel they accomplished this BUT, story was mediocre and ending was just disappointing.
  • QWERTYCommander - August 23, 2010 5:57 a.m.

    Funny, Gamespot wasn't even giving the sequel any special treatment. They gave it a 6.5. It was still heavily advertised on the site, just like the first. I'm predicting a Calvert-gate?
  • ElGrinchoid - August 21, 2010 12:32 a.m.

    5 hours for the single player story? Really? How on earth is that acceptable for a game to be released with that. I honestly don't care if they've put a lot of work into the multiplayer (not that reading that review makes it sound like that). Some of us don't live for multiplayer and to be honest i'm getting sick of seeing games like this come out with sub par single player stories. If it's only a 5 hour play through then perhaps we should only be charged for the 5 hour play through instead of marketing and pricing it like a full game. When a game like Red Dead Redemption can be put out, with what, well over 15 hours sp (if you hammer it and don't bother dicking about with all the side quests) for $10 cheaper it really does show this for what it is, a quick kick in the spuds to gamers. Especially if the multi is annoying as it sounds. Reads like 7/10 is far, far too generous if i'm honest.
  • JD_Method - August 19, 2010 9:03 a.m.

    Yeah, this game isn't for everyone, but I think some people are just jumping on the hate bandwagon, still bitter over the whole Gamespot thing, which may or may not have had anything to do with the first Kane & Lynch. The first game wasn't as bad as some people made out to be. Sure, it had its flaws but it was still enjoyable. I haven't finished the single player for Kane & Lynch 2 yet, but I can agree with this score. Seven is good, not mediocre like some people seem to think. Look, it even says "GOOD" next to the score there. I'm having fun playing this through in split-screen. It's nothing mind-blowing, but it's fun. It's a bit of a marmite game, this one. You either like it or you don't. But for those that don't like it, would you rather this franchise just fail and never be heard of again? Or would you rather IO Interactive actually get it together and smash out an amazing Kane & Lynch game which rectifys all the problems of the previous titles and gives us a brilliant single player (and multiplayer) experience, like they should have done in the first place (after making Hitman 5, of course)? This franchise and its characters have massive potential, and even though I still buy and enjoy these games, I just don't think IO is quite reaching that potential. I'm just hoping IO Interactive can one day deliver the great Kane & Lynch experience some of us have been waiting for.
  • meh - August 19, 2010 5:18 a.m.

    well, at least its not a big pile of balls like I thought it would be. Just mediocre.
  • TheWebSwinger - August 19, 2010 3:29 a.m.

    Couldn't give two shits about this game, frankly.
  • Syncmaster - August 19, 2010 2:22 a.m.

    I got a felling this game should be only a single mission in a far bigger game. how could they not improve on the duo and the story??!
  • Phazon117 - August 18, 2010 8:16 p.m.

    Really don't give a shit for this series. Hoping it ends here.
  • DrRock - August 18, 2010 6:33 p.m.

    I think you might be giving it to generous of a score but you're entitled to your opinion.
  • bonerachieved - August 18, 2010 6:02 p.m.

    Just beat this game in co-op at a friends house. REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY DISAPPOINTED. Overall I would've gave this game a 5, but then again I'm not a gams jarnaliztstst especially how the second half is just you trying to get out of the damn city.
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - August 18, 2010 5:32 p.m.

    @Onepersonwithnoopinion: Do what, now? @Unoriginal: He gave the PS3 version a 3/5, and then knocked the 360 version down to 2/5 over a bug he experienced. Honestly, I don't know whether to be impressed or disappointed that he never brought up the controversy over the last game in his review.
  • Unoriginal - August 18, 2010 1:01 p.m.

    Wonder what Gerstman gave this. Too soon?
  • db1331 - August 18, 2010 12:46 p.m.

    I am getting really good at predicting GR review scores. I am so happy to see this game getting ripped apart by just about every site. Game Informer was really rough on it. They deserve it after trying to buy reviews for the first game. Time to hang up Kane & Lynch, boys. It's obvious that nobody gives a shit about them.
  • elpurplemonkey - August 18, 2010 7:21 a.m.

    Good review. This really seems like a solid rental- a lot of meh with some genuinely enjoyable moments.
  • crumbdunky - August 18, 2010 5:14 a.m.

    Well, I felt even the visual effect was hokum and basically a pan stick, cover all for lazy visals underneath(models and animations are sub par to begin with, imho)so to me it's an INSULT rather than a plus point. The hit detection was iffy and the cover system worked when it felt like it(no, not the bits where the covers too flimsy-that, in fact, is the games only good is a in my book and even then it was inconsistent with some cover working when t reeally shouldn't do), the basic gunplay lacks snap and direction(I've seldom felt less powerful with a virtual gun in my mitts)and I always felt the traitor nonsense in the MP was just that-nonsense. I WAS hoping it was just a wonky demo but having played through a large part of a mates review copy at his house(he wanted a second opinion)I'm sad to say I like the game even less. Sure, it's gritty but it's done with so much pride that you feel they'd have badges declaring it if they could get away with it-it's gritty just for the sake of feeling "adult" and that's not forgiveable when the core gameplay is so under whelming, almost trite in it's execution. Aly that to the feeling I have that the visual effect is there purely to hide lazy design and gfx and you have a game that, were I reviewing would NEVER see anything above a four/ten. Seriously, I think Mikel's being generous and for those in the mainstream media bigging this mess up-PLAY some sodding REAL games and get back to us. Pushing this crap is a disgrace. Makes me VERY scared IO have lost it and Hitman5 will be crap too. Hope not.
  • Onepersonwithnoopinion - August 18, 2010 5:09 a.m.

    @Mikel And what about games that do?
  • SAUGAPRIME - August 18, 2010 3:27 a.m.

    This game deserved a solid 8. playing as a character trying to keep his illness under control is a fresh look at gaming. Who dosen't have that kind of problem these days. Maybe it could of put more of that in the story like he ran out of pills so he tried to self medicate himself.
  • lovinmyps3 - August 18, 2010 1:21 a.m.

    Rental. I bought the first, I will not be disappointed again!
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - August 18, 2010 12:48 a.m.

    hope nobody gets fired because of this game

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