Eidos Interactive's psychotic criminal characters Kane and Lynch are due to make a return this year after their 2007 debut in Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. Third-person shooter Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days sees Adam 'Kane' Marcus and James Seth Lynch heading to Shanghai for more bank heists, shootouts and sadistic activities. At an event in London, developer IO Interactive showcased three modes from the game's multiplayer - Fragile Alliance, Undercover Cop and Cops & Robbers - which all feature hybrid co-operative/competitive gameplay based around the concept that "money talks". Ahead of the game's release in August, Digital Spy joined a crew of hardened reprobates to put the three modes through their paces.
Before discussing the multiplayer modes in Kane & Lynch 2, a note should be made to the game's visual presentation, which is a mixture of user-generated YouTube videos and gritty bank heist movies. Much has already been said about the game's 'shaky' camera work and grainy visuals in the main campaign, which this time is told from Lynch's point of view rather than Kane's. But judging from the multiplayer alone, it seems that IO Interactive has been careful to balance these stylistic touches without going over the top. However, only time will tell if the game's chosen visual style really proves a success.
Essentially, all multiplayer modes boil down to two things - stealing loot and ending lives. A stash of $4 million is always available to steal, with the winning player being the one who gains the most cash. Alongside human opponents, there are a range of AI-controlled threats standing in the player's way, such as cops, SWAT teams and dogs. Gamers can use the money that they have swindled to buy better weapons and equipment between the rounds. In the playing session, we saw three maps - a fish market, a subway station and an airport - which were all really well presented and set up for the action.
The mode is called Fragile Alliance because players in the crew are able to turn traitor and kill their allies to steal their loot. However, the treachery must be timed carefully as going too early could result in a messy firefight with other gang members. Should any of the gang die, then they will be respawned on street level as a tactical cop, with a mission to stop the raiders from making their escape. An interesting aspect is that even when players lose their robber status and become cops, they can still steal cash from downed criminals to earn better standings at the end of the match. The backstabbing element works really well and adds a new dimension to the play, which is fast, furious and exciting.
The jury is out on Undercover Cop. It's an interesting concept to place a wholly different tactical agenda on one player, picked at random, but it felt a little mismatched in reality. One player has to pretend to shoot cops to maintain their disguise, which is actually not very fun, and if they are shot by the twitchiness of everyone else, then they have to sit out for the remainder of the game. In addition, there are no respawns in the mode, so anyone who dies early has to just watch the rest of the match. This is not to say that the mode won't work, because it could provide a genuinely different challenge to the deathmatch-capture the flag monotony, but it seemed a little out of balance on this early playthrough.
Unlike Undercover Cop, Cops & Robbers features unlimited respawns and so it creates a really good sense of push and pull between opposing teams. There are also different strategies to playing as the cops or the robbers, which makes them each a fresh challenge. The cops are very much about an aggressive defensive strategy, while the robbers are all about advancing to the getaway point. Sitting with a group of mates as a four-player crew is a real blast, with everyone working together to beat the other crew. It's a fun experience, which requires tactical nous, coordination and strength to stop the other team from prospering.
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days will be released on August 27 for Xbox 360, PC and PS3.