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Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

Shanghai surprise.

Each mission blurs directly into the next, with the lavish cut-scene interludes failing to provide narrative payback. As a result it's easy to feel a little detached from what's going on, and you'll wonder aloud how you've ended up starting a war over apparently very little. You might roar through the madness at first, but there's only so long you can slaughter scores of Chinese gangsters and police before the novelty wanes and the sense of routine kicks in.

None of this was a problem in the 2007 original. If anything, the premise, sense of purpose and narrative cohesion were its strongest elements. Back then it was clear why Kane & Lynch were gaming's odd couple. Busting them out of jail made perfect sense - but perhaps it was a one-shot idea. Bringing the demented duo back together for Dog Days feels slightly forced. The interesting premise is replaced and character development is strangely absent in these early stages.

With that said, the game really is pretty. The seedy neon anti-glamour of scuzzy after-dark Shanghai provides a wonderfully evocative backdrop to the violence, and the art builds on the original's promise with an array of deft and dramatic lighting techniques which, along with a rock-solid frame-rate, make for a game that feels very assured.

IO's mastery of convincing character models gives the game a wonderfully credible cast of characters, and when it deigns to slow the pace down the potential is there for all to see. It was always puzzling why the original didn't get the graphical credit it deserved, but it seems unlikely Dog Days will suffer the same fate. It's one of the most stylish and technically accomplished titles around.

If you can resist the temptation to lay down your arms now and then, there's actually a great deal to admire. Attention to detail that has long been IO's trademark, as the Hitman titles always proved, and the Danish team doesn't disappoint here either. It's a shame that there's never any reason to hang around anywhere for any length of time, as locations like a sweatshop filled with cowering women are very convincing.

It's also worth bearing in mind that this latest hands-on only tells half the story. As we've seen from the game's multiplayer modes, there's room for encouragement from the hugely enjoyable Fragile Alliance, Cops and Robbers and Undercover Cop modes.

In fact, from what we've sampled so far, there's a distinct possibility that Dog Days' relentless style might actually be better suited to the round-based mentality of multiplayer gaming. In addition, with split-screen co-op puzzlingly disabled in the preview build, we can't tell you how much fun it might be to play with a pal, either. With full review code tantalisingly close though, you won't have to wait long to find out.

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days will be released for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on 20th August.

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About the Author

Kristan Reed avatar

Kristan Reed

Contributor

Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.

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