Kane & Lynch 2 is an ugly game in almost every sense. It's aesthetically ugly, it's thematically ugly, it's even mechanically ugly, a clumsy and chaotic third-person shooter with a sticky cover system and AI thicker than asbestos soup. What's interesting about it all, though, is that most of this ugliness (although admittedly not all of it) is deliberate, in what is a fascinating example of a developer exploring its own mistakes and mishaps through another creative work.
Few people I know have anything nice to say about Kane & Lynch. No one I've personally talked to about it has had anything particularly noteworthy to say - most of the time general chatter among gamers isn't exactly on par with Shakespeare - but the gist is that the series is bland, full of clichéd characters and generic cover-based gameplay.
We are told to do many things in videogames. Slay zombie hordes. Battle within the intestine of a giant worm. Prevent thermonuclear armageddon. Get fruity with aliens. I'm not sure we've ever been instructed by a game to "shoot those fucking c****" before, though. It's strangely liberating.
Filthy, rotten money. It's mankind's dirtiest multiplayer game, bringing out the very worst in humanity, and capable of making backstabbing bastards out of even the most benign soul - and Danish game developer IO Interactive knows it.
"It was not a nice experience."
IO Interactive has spent the last year or so thinking about what's real. That doesn't mean the developer's selling its car, renting out the flat and heading to Goa with an acoustic guitar, some awesome liquorice sticks and a dreadlocked chick named Mary-Beth it met on the Circle Line, however. Rather it means that the designers of Kane & Lynch have been studying the kind of things people associate with reality - prodding through the internet in search of whatever it is that has the power to jar and shock by virtue of its authenticity. They want something that will make you drop your ice lolly and think, "Ooh, that's a bit raw for a videogame". Sorry, Mary-Beth.