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Review Kane & Lynch: Dead Men (PS3) and Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (XBOX 360): Oh boy, let's get this over with shall we?

genre: action, adventure, third person shooter

Curiosity killed the cat. Somehow that is a proverb not meant for me. I could go into why I think that but does it really matter? I rather want to know and be disappointed then not knowing and to regret. And let's be real here after the controversy that was attached to Kane and Lynch who would not want to check it out. 

Kane and Lynch was one of the early XBOX 360 and PS3 titles that was supposed to leave a mark on people in the most positive way ever. Instead it was anything but. At least that is what the majority of reviewers keep telling people. Unfortunately they were right. Kane & Lynch: Dead Men is an average game at best. I can't deny that the game does have some nice moments to give you a taste of what it could have been like. Some sequences recreate the mood of Heat so splendidly that you wonder why IO Interactive did not copy more from Michael Mann. Now at this point I am probably not saying anything you already are aware of. Very likely you still feel like trying out the game for yourself. I seriously would advise you against it. Because there are some issues that will prevent you from having fun. First and foremost the gameplay mechanics. Especially shooting. Since you will be shooting in the game pretty much 98 percent of the time that is not something you will be able to ignore. It's clunky and not accurate. It takes forever to line up targets properly and even when you succeed to do so there is a high chance of missing them anyway. Combine that with the fact that cover doesn't work as it should. It's unresponsive and can't be initiated by yourself. You have to hope that when you are close to a wall or object your character will go in cover. I found that it was better to sometimes forsake the cover and simply move around especially when your enemies are flanking you from multiple sides. Seems contradicting I know but trust me it will save your life. At least in the game. 

I managed to play without too much hassle until Chapter 11. It is in this mission that you can tell the game is broken. In the second stage of the mission you arrive at a big square where a helicopter is hovering and flying over it. This helicopter can shoot you down in just a few seconds if you aren't in cover. And even then you aren't completely safe since it flies back and forth so you are forced to move around. Thing is that there are also multiple enemies on the ground giving you a very hard time to do that without getting shot at. At first all of it seems very straightforward until I kept dying. I tried many different strategies with the same result: Death. It is beyond frustrating. Also because advancement triggers new enemies to appear while you barely have time or opportunity to deal with the first few waves. Would have been fine if your companions were any good. But they too keep dying. It's at this moment where I decided to pause the game. Edit 06-06-2017: After writing this review I really felt the urge to give Chapter 11 a couple of more tries and I finally succeeded. How did I do it? With a lot of patience and cursing. Strategy? 

" Well, I assume that most of you won't have that much trouble with the first part of the section since that is pretty straightforward. After blowing up the tank the second part starts and you immediately get overwhelmed by enemies from two sides. Go in cover and try to eliminate the middle ones advancing you and then focus on the enemies coming in from the right. Once you have dealt with them go into the building they came from. Shoot the one or two remaining on the second floor and then regroup. Wait for the helicopter to pass and go downstairs and advance towards the right of the middle of the square. You will see some enemies popping up. Instead of dealing with them from there go back to the building you came from and make sure your team keeps following you at all times. Then be ready to shoot the enemies as they will follow you. After taking them out repeat this strategy until you feel confident enough to advance even further. But do take out the jeep as it has a long range gun and enemies will keep boarding that jeep until it is destroyed. The idea is to go all the way up and then left. However it is wise to go up and then turn to the right as it has a wall you can use as cover. From there you can take out a lot of the enemies coming from the direction you need to go to. But keep paying attention to the helicopter. Slowly advance upwards from there and you will see some pillars you can use as cover. Do use it and again take out enemies from here and wait for the helicopter to pass. You will see a car right in front of you. The second you go towards it three enemies appear so you should use the car as cover and take them out swiftly. Preferably use a grenade. After this stay to the left. Let helicopter pass and then go towards the building with a wrecked helicopter on the left and an opening on the right. Go here and a cutscene will trigger. Congratulations! You passed this mission. "

For many this chapter is where most people will give up on the game and I don't blame them. Even when you are careful and meticulous there are so many factors that can go wrong. First of all the reinforcements who are supposed to help you out are useless. They die after one shot so don't bother with them too much. However your team members also have the tendency to go all Rambo on you if you don't regroup in time. So watch them like a hawk. Strangely enough when you go past the jeep you have destroyed the only one who can get hurt is you. Somehow the helicopter or enemies won't hit them. A very good example of how unbalanced and weak the A.I. is in this game. 

I read reviews and comments where they mentioned that they liked the story. I don't quite understand that since it is a typical crime story that I have seen in many TV Shows and movies. It's hardly interesting and Kane and Lynch aren't as compelling as promised. They could have been but they aren't. Lynch certainly is not in the same league as Trevor from GTA V. But maybe the guys from Rockstar Games were inspired by Lynch and then came up with Trevor. Who knows? I have to admit that some of the dialogues between Kane and Lynch are hilarious. Still not enough for me to be entirely positive about this game. 

So what about the sequel? Gameplay mechanics have improved significantly. Cover can be initiated by yourself and is pretty responsive. And 90 percent of the time it will shield you from harm. Some of the covers won't last because they can be destroyed. The shooting is also more responsive and little less clunky but still not as accurate as it should. But it's a much less frustrating affair compared to the original. However everything that sort of made the original a little more interesting is removed. No story, no music and barely any variation. Although there is one mission that stands out from the rest and is ultra cool. Yes, I said it. I am allowed to. I am old and hip. Also Kane and Lynch are less unique compared tot the first game. Lynch was a walking time bomb in the original and had the tendency to go off script. In Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days this is not the case anymore since he is using medication. Like that can suppress all your psychotic episodes. I mean Lynch is put in incredible stressful and traumatic situations and you are telling me that even in those circumstances the psychosis won't come out? It has to be said that personally I didn't mind the lack of story. Often that gets in the way from getting right to it. Besides the game does make sure you know the motivations of the characters. Might be very minimal but it's more than enough.

Many reviewers have complained about the fact that this game is far too short. While it does end very abruptly with no pay off whatsoever I was glad the game was over and that I wasn't forced to do more missions. Due to the more repetitive nature of the game the length is on point. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days therefore in my opinion is far more playable and fun compared to the original. But it's not a memorable game. Apart from one or two moments in the game it is very unlikely you will be able to recall other nice moments. Still it is one you can pick up from time to time if you are in the mood to do some simple shooting. One advise though. Turn off the shaky cam. It's highly annoying and only makes things more difficult for you. You can hardly see the enemies as is. 

I got Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days for 2,95 euro's. For that price it was very much worth it. I think up until 5 euro's a purchase would be warranted. But don't pay more. Forget about the first one. It's a frustrating affair. It takes a whole lot of patience and effort to get used to the clunky controls and even then you will need quite a few breaks to manage your anger. (For some reason they decided to adapt the game into a movie. And while in general I am against it this could be one of those titles that would be perfect to do so. But it's currently in development hell so we might never get it. Typical. Do I finally want a game to be adapted they can't make their mind about it.

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