I wanted to like this. All the previews, videos and even the demo suggested it would be something special. Not that I had any fondness for the first game… Hell, I didn’t even play the first game, but what I saw of a friend’s playthrough suggested sloppy targeting and shitty AI. No, what interested me was the presentation.
(That and if IO are going to deny me another Hitman game I at least want the project they’re working on instead to be good.)
To be fair, Kane & Lynch 2’s presentation is striking. Presented in the style of an Internet video it’s full of digital artifacts, pixelation and diegetic music. It works well, although has an inherent problem:
Kane & Lynch 2’s Inherent Problem #1: Creating a YouTube video upload effect for your game implies the presence of a guy filming it all – something that isn’t in anyway supported by the fiction.
That sounds like a minor nitpick and it’s something I doubt most people would even notice… But that’s most people. It bugged the fuck out of me for much of the game. Why the fuck are they killing people on camera? Why isn’t the cameraman taking cover? Who the fuck went through and pixellated everything? Did they get signed release forms for all the civilians running past? The fuck, game?
Away from my own issues suspending disbelief, the look of the game is pretty interesting. It’s all muted tones contrasted against stark neon, lending a moody atmosphere without treading the waters of an exclusively grey/brown palette. As for the two main characters, they’re probably the ugliest protagonists of all gaming: middle aged, balding losers – unashamed and unrepentant arseholes who’ve failed at every aspect of life. Frankly, they’re a refreshing change from muscled soldiers and JRPG lady-boys. Their appeal lies precisely in their complete lack of appeal.
All of which makes it a great shame that the game is a bit shit.
Kane & Lynch 2’s Inherent Problem #2: It’s pretty fucking boring.
In theory it’s a good idea. While not realistic it does at least shy away from needless explosions, turret sequences and that bit where you have to take down a helicopter with an RPG that you handily picked up the level before. It attempts to be more Michael Mann than Michael Bay. Which is a good idea, in theory.
The problem is K&L2 doesn’t have any ideas to replace the standard action clichés. Even pretty average shooters understand pacing, the idea that something is needed to break up endless rooms full of men waiting to be shot. K&L2 doesn’t. The closest it gets to pacing is adding a corridor between rooms full of men for the characters to run down and shout at each other. The rest of the time it’s just taking cover and shooting.
Sometimes you’re taking cover and shooting while escorting an angry British guy, sometimes you’re taking cover and shooting at people trying to kidnap you girlfriend from another building, sometimes you’re taking cover and shooting while naked and sometimes you’re even taking cover and shooting from a helicopter. The rest of the time you’re simply taking cover and shooting… For 4 hours… And then the game ends.
The taking cover and shooting mechanics are perfectly fine – in fact all the controls work well, with the exception of the sprinting which feels a lot like trying to control a drunk on a unicycle. That’s the weirdest thing about Kane & Lynch 2, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game so polished be quite so dull.
While so much surrounding the game is actually pretty damn good, the bit that matters – the actual game – just isn’t. One to avoid, unless you really love taking cover and shooting.
A quick note on the multiplayer: I didn’t play the multiplayer.