[Note: This is one of them there fancy smancy "opinion" pieces. Hence it's my opinion and thus in no way a definitive authority on the subject matter. It's also a look at sequels that I feel ultimately outdo their predecessor and more so it's a basic look at sequels that get the shaft either by namesake or franchise connection. Basically an attempt to get people to give a game a "second look" if anything]
This should be fun. I gotta say I appreciate that Jim Sterling has his own opinion on things and I usually see eye to eye with the fellow. I gotta say that while Jim sees the existence of this game as the downfall of gaming or at very least the rabid sequelitis I honestly loved it. I loved Kane & Lynch 2 a HELL of a lot more than the first game. Infact truly, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men is fucking dog shit compared to Kane & Lynch 2.
I initially bought Kane & Lynch: Dead Men for a whopping 10 bucks around the time Kane & Lynch 2 was released. The subject matter intrigued me enough to want to check it out. Theieves, Criminals traversing the underbelly of society. Seemed like it had a solid enough premise even if I'd heard less than stellar reviews about it. I'd initially thought the Kane & Lynch 2 demo looked nice but seemed hard as hell. Little did I realize.
Admittedly though I could see why playing these games out of order might have seen me come to a different conclusion but for some reason I did what I normally do when I buy a new game. I play a little bit into it to give it a try with the intention of going back to it at a later date and starting a new game. Except with Kane & Lynch 2 it got it's meat hooks into me. I was really enjoying the visual style and even though initially the gameplay was frustrating, I found Kane & Lynch 2 had a learning curve as small as it may have been but once I understood it or atleast understood their limits the game became abit easier.
Is the game short? Sure, most say it can be knocked off in around 4 hours. Does it look into the backgrounds of Kane & Lynch like the first does? Not really. Kane & Lynch 2 is a 4 hour campaign that ends abruptly but it has a few thing it's predecessor doesn't have. Style and Playability.
The game follows Kane & Lynch through some turbulent times in Shanghai and the whole event is presented in a "hand held digital camcorder" style which means the only thing missing is the "REC" and tape time indicator.You get glare from lights and even those digital paneling like you'd get from someone streaming media over the net. It's an interesting visual style that in my honest opinion works for the story which takes two men through hell and back as they fight their way through a country that is not their own. Also during cutscenes, there are jump cuts and angle shots presented from a single point of view which gives it that low budget documentary feel, giving the player not only a feeling of being apart of it but experiencing it live as it happens.
One example of Kane & Lynch 2's superiority to the first in terms of presentation takes place during the section you play in the demo. Just those few instances where we see Kane smoking a cigarillio, which jump cuts to his hand over his head with fatigue tells the story of two weary individuals, caught up in the only lifestyle they know and are good at, tells a more compelling story visually than ANY of the flashback and scene dialogue in the first game. Infact Dead Men's presentation of story is pretty dull, with being downed providing snippets of Kane and Lynch's past and one scene where Lynch loosing his cool before it never really being mentioned again, that and some talk between game sections is all you get. Atleast Kane & Lynch 2 is trying for something different this time around and it's fair to say that if you don't want your games presented with an attempt at gritty realism or movie type qualities you won't enjoy what Kane & Lynch 2 has to offer visually.
Now then there's playability. Kane & Lynch 2 does suffer from the same misgivings of the first game in that enemies are many, spread around various cover. Like any good game that offers up a co-operative function like Splitscreen or online co-op the use of flanking or picking targets helps plus this time as apposed to Dead Men when your partner goes down and starts going towards the light (literally the dying player's half of the screen went white in the first game) the second player's screen doesn't go pitch black thus making getting to the downed player a trial in and of itself. I'm still amazed that Stevil did it by himself. You get downed in Kane & Lynch 2 you can easily get back up without aide and the environments are easier for seeing and picking off targets. Locking on, throwing objects and just overall the functionality is vastly improved from the first which when the screen wasn't bleeding out in Co-Op saw you struggle to take out hidden targets.
And to that end let me quote Cliffy B, a quote I've beaten to death but is totally appropriate here when comparing the two games. "a game can have a bad story as long as it plays well. A game with a great story but bad gameplay is still a bad game." Too true Cliffy.
Conclusion: I'd say if you can get it for a cheap price it's worth checking out. I bought my copy for 20 dollars and I was more than satisfied with it. I don't believe it's as bad as Jim says it is and it's certainly a ton more playable and fun than the first game which was a mess. Besides if this doesn't convince you I don't know what will!