Kane & Lynch 2 is well worth a go for 80p

Psst, hey, you, wanna see something unusual for 80p? Pick up Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days in Square Enix’s Steam sale. Made by Hitman folks IO Interactive, K&L 2 may be typical for a 2010 cover shooter in a lot of ways but I still find it interesting for:

1) An aggressively ugly look riffing on uploaded camera phone videos that are over-compressed, blown-out, glitched, distorted, and censored by video hosts.
2) Making you fight for ages with awful guns, scrabbling from cover to cover and desperately trying to grab new guns after yours runs out of ammo.
3) A stunning and bustling Shanghai.
3) That bit where they’re naked and drenched in blood.

I’m repeating what I wrote a few years ago but: Kane & Lynch 2 offers a fantastic experience of killers stumbling through a city they don’t understand, desperately spaffing bullets hoping it’ll solve their problems. You play a stupid god damn arsehole, a hired killer who’s barely good enough to keep himself alive as he bumbles through a mess he created. Our old partner is sick of our shit, we don’t know why gangs and cops are after us, and every gun we find is so inaccurate and has such limited capacity that every fight is bumbling, fighting for mere metres of space and hoping to find even a handful of bullets. All the while, it’s just so in-your-face ugly. Fantastic.

I’m not saying it’s super-amazing. Its relentless unpleasantness, while intentional, can be a bit much. And I understand why some people might hate the combat. Then as someone who does like the combat, I do think it’s spoiled when the game starts handing out guns which aren’t terrible.

But god, that look! Those rubbish guns! That city! Kane & Lynch 2 is £0.79/€0.99/$0.99 on Steam until Monday the 5th of March, which seems a great price even just for a peek.


  1. ghossttman says:

    Bit of an odd one for me, this. I’d had trouble with the demo previously but gave it another try when the game was this price during Steam’s Christmas sale. The demo worked perfectly so I purchased the game – which then crashed repeatedly at, I think, a very early language prompt or something. It was certainly well before any gameplay. After an hour of attempting fixes from various sources I refunded it.

  2. Danda says:

    Great writing about one of my favourite games. Yes, it’s ugly and unpleasant, but on purpose. It’s actually very well done.

  3. Matt says:

    Kane & Lynch 2 perfectly nailed the aesthetic it was going for. Handheld cameras, YouTube-circa-2010 image quality, and protagonists and a tone rarely found in games. It feels like playing through found footage of a crime spree. I highly recommend playing it in co-op (online or otherwise).

    It’s a shame we likely won’t be seeing another one from IO Interactive.

    • Danda says:

      Yes, they nailed a lot of things. A lot of people can’t see the difference between “I like it” and “It’s good”. And this game is extremely unlikeable but good. I enjoyed it a lot, despite the bullet sponge enemies.

  4. N'Al says:

    Yep, worth it.

  5. mitrovarr says:

    Interesting to hear someone out there likes this game. I had kinda gotten the impression it was both not very good and extremely unpleasant, to the point of putting off even the kind of people who normally like this sort of game.

    Still not the kind of thing I’ll ever play, but interesting to note.

    • KDR_11k says:

      I think that’s mostly the work of Kane & Lynch 1 and the whole Gerstmann thing. K&L2 is usually praised for its extremely uncomfortable (on purpose) atmosphere.

  6. EthZee says:

    Well said. The multiplayer is also amazing, and with its betrayal mechanic it makes me sad that nobody has half-inched it for their own title so it can live again.

  7. Banks says:

    The setting and style are insanely strong. The pacing is also super fast and intense, which I love. Probably my favourite TPS. I wish it was even more gruesome.

    And to think that the weak ass Max Payne 3 was highly praised while this was reviled…

    • faircall says:

      I really want to like the game as much as I like the visuals, but I find it intensely irritating to play. The enemies have perfect accuracy from range, hitting you the instant you pop out of cover, yet when you pick up those same weapons they are useless beyond close range. The cover system is infuriating to use, and it’s not uncommon to be victim to friendly fire. And the gun sounds are pretty rubbish. It would have been great if they had the same attention to detail as the visuals, but they seem really “gamey” and out of place in a game going for grittiness. I don’t remember the first game being quite this annoying to play, and it seemed to have much more variation in levels and objectives.

  8. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    I’ll go so far as to say that this game is a straight-up classic. This article gets at some of a what I love about it: http://www.zam.com/article/60/through-a-screen-darkly-in-praise-of-kane–lynch-2-dog-days. There has just never been any other game that looks like this; it’s so good at evoking the feel of some Internet video you know you really shouldn’t be looking at.

    I also appreciate the story is basically the anti-“dad action movie”: you’ve got a couple of middle-aged protagonists who are constantly getting into gunfights, but instead of being heroic and badass they’re horrible and incompetent and their actions just make the whole situation worse and worse and worse, right up to the very end. Very much the opposite of most video game narratives in that respect.

  9. pookie101 says:

    Well then. I have apparently owned it since 2011 but never installed it

  10. heretic says:

    Well said Alice! One of my favourite experiences in gaming for the reasons you highlighted, really love this gritty stuff.

  11. TheSplund says:

    Tried it both SP and Co-op but TBH the game is frustrating as hell and both me and my mate gave up on it not too far in. I really wanted to like it (as there was a major lack of co-op games back then) but I can see why it got the bad rap.

  12. dorobo says:

    Also this game had the best game trailers ever.
    link to youtu.be

  13. a very affectionate parrot says:

    I play K&L 2 at least once a year, it takes about 4 hours to blast through and I love every deeply unpleasant second of it. The guns are shit, you’re too fat for cover to work properly, you fall over all the time and the game becomes increasingly desperate as you go from fighting street gangs to having the goddamn People’s Liberation Army on your ass. Then after all that, the game doesn’t even show you the ending as the protagonists make yet another terrible decision that they likely can’t come back from.
    It also has one of the greatest main menus of all time.

  14. Unclepauly says:

    Spoiler alert?

    -intended for a very affectionate parrot

  15. try2bcool69 says:

    What’s wrong with all of you? This game is terrible in every way a game can be terrible. GAH!

    • Monggerel says:

      See, that was my thinking, until like two years ago by absurd chance I stumbled on the same trailer dorobo posted above, and something in my head clicked. These people *actually, deliberately* decided to make the most hideous, disturbed, unpleasant thing they could think of.

      It’s… a very intense experience. A very unpleasant one, but I guarantee you it’s pretty much not possible to respond to this game with apathy. It’s like an acid wave of revulsion washing through your brain. (the game’s extremely short running time helps a great deal – I would not stand it for any longer)

      Somehow, sometimes, that’s precisely the thing you need. I do not know what exactly Dog Days is to Alice and the commenters above, but I suspect they may feel somewhat similarly.

  16. Jeroen_Antineus says:

    Only things I didn’t like about this game are the abrupt ending and the short length. All the rest, I love: the spastic, chaotic gunfights, the INCREDIBLY unlikeable characters (and yet, slightly more sympathetic than in the first entry of the series), and that PERFECT atmosphere. More than Internet videos of the era, I remembered the South Asian video nasties from the 90’s, those incredibly ugly looking 18+ ultraviolent films from Hong Kong and Japan, which I think fits perfectly the narrative.