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Josh Bycer, Blogger

January 6, 2011

6 Min Read

Kane and Lynch 2 is a strange game for me to look at, while playing it I ran the gambit of emotions, first liking, then hating, then becoming apathetic and finally seeing some good. KnL2 threw a lot of ideas against the wall and some work, while others bring the game down.

Let's start with the story, you play as the title characters, Kane a mercenary for hire and Lynch a sociopath. Lynch invites Kane to Shanghai for an arms deal that will earn them both a sizable amount of money. However like all best laid plans things go horribly wrong and the duo becomes wanted by every police officer, solider and gangster in the city.

Normally I don't spend time on graphics but KL2 is a special case. The game is shown as someone filming them with a camera. Intense gore and nudity is replaced by pixilation and lens flare and other camera effects are shown. When you sprint the camera bobs up and down as if the camera man was chasing behind you. What I like about this is that not only does it give a sense of style to the game but it keeps things very down to earth. Intense firefights have objects being blown up and turning everywhere into a war zone.

The firefights in KnL2 both show the merit of the game and also where my complaints are which are coming up. This is not your standard third person shooter, running around will get you killed within seconds. You will be outnumbered in every firefight and even with having regenerative health won't help when six guys are blasting you with assault rifles. To survive you have to use cover and take them down one by one. Flanking the enemies is by far the best strategy along with bridging the distance between you and the enemy forces.

What I really like about KnL2 is that it has a different tone then other games. In most shooters you are the alpha male bad-ass who will take thousands of bullets to the chest and singlehandedly win the war or save the girl. In KnL2 you are just two schmucks in Shanghai being hunted down and every fight is life or death. With that praise said however it's time to talk about the problems and I have some big ones to mention.

First is gun accuracy or lack thereof. For trained hit-men Kane and Lynch are horrible shots even at close range. Don't think because you are crouching will make you accurate. Making matters worse is that the AI are all marksmen, able to gun you down from forty feet away with the same guns you can't hit them with from twenty.

Mechanics like flanking and providing cover would work except for one major concession made to the AI for single player. Since you always have your partner in the game, the AI controlled player is immortal and because of that the enemy AI will not target the other player, only you.

Because of that it makes things like suppressing fire useless as the second I step out I know I'm going to be peppered with gun fire while my partner is fine. One example of this came when the AI partner was standing in front of me by about 10 feet when an attack dog came charging down the hallway, it completely ignored the AI and went straight for me. Since the partner AI does not move forward it is up to you to be the target while trying to get close enough to the enemy

The regenerating health system doesn't seem to have any rhyme or reason to it either. There are times that I was hit by ten bullets over the course of five seconds at full health that took me to near death, and then I got hit by five quick bullets at full health and died.

The checkpoint system is also flawed which lead to some very annoying fights. The system works by giving the player a checkpoint either after a group of enemies has been killed or the player has crossed over into another area. The problem comes with how enemies are introduced to the world.

Here is an example of what I mean:

Player enters a big room and enemy group X spawns. The game will give the player a checkpoint after group X is killed, but the player doesn't know this. While fighting group X the player crosses the invisible threshold that spawns enemy group Y which is another ten guys. Now if the player finishes off group X it will not check point the game until the player also finishes off group Y. But if the player dies they will have to restart all the way back to the group X fight. Now if the player hung back and finished off group X then the game would checkpoint allowing the player to continue past the group X fight.

This becomes a recipe of annoyance as almost every level has a section like this and without having suitable aid from the AI partner makes it frustrating.

Now this is where we get to the tough part at looking at KnL2, rating it solely on single player I would say that it is a stylish but incredibly flawed game. Yet the concepts behind the multi-player changes things. The reason why I say concept is that I really wanted to play KnL2 with other people but the multi-player scene appears to be dead.

The problems with the AI only focusing on the human player would not matter when there are two characters to focus on. This is where I think being able to flank and cover the other person would work. It would also be far less frustrating not being the only one who would have to push forward in a hail of bullets.

The non story multi-player tasks a group of players to perform a heist in four minutes. What makes it interesting is that the player who survives with the most money wins, so less then honorable players may try to take out the person with the high score. Attacking a player will alert the other players about your actions and they will not suffer any penalties if they want to gun you down.

There are a several variations of this which sounds great, but once again without an active community it is hard to test them out. In some ways KnL2 reminds me of the Left 4 Dead series in a sense that both have a single player option, but you get the real experience of playing them with other people.

So where does that leave KnL 2? Ultimately what brings it down is the lack of balance in single player. Recently I played Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light which also featured a single and co-op campaign and loved it. The main reason was that the game challenges and balance were tweaked depending on if the player is playing it solo or with a buddy. It feels like with KnL2 it was designed as co-op only and the single player was just hastily thrown together.

If you don't have any friends and you can find it cheap KnL2 is worth it to see the style of the game, but if you can get your friends to buy as well I'm sure you will have some fun backstabbing each other with the multi-player.


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Josh Bycer


For more than seven years, I have been researching and contributing to the field of game design. These contributions range from QA for professional game productions to writing articles for sites like Gamasutra and Quarter To Three. 

With my site Game-Wisdom our goal is to create a centralized source of critical thinking about the game industry for everyone from enthusiasts, game makers and casual fans; to examine the art and science of games. I also do video plays and analysis on my Youtube channel. I have interviewed over 500 members of the game industry around the world, and I'm a two-time author on game design with "20 Essential Games to Study" and "Game Design Deep Dive Platformers."

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