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Kane & Lynch

Review: Shooter

Jun 02 // Nic Rowen
Shooter (Book)Released: June 2, 2015MSRP: $5.00 Shooter is a collection of essays from recognizable names in game criticism speaking on a wide range of topics related to games that involve some kind of gunplay. Some chapters take a deep dive into the mechanical and technical details that make shooters what they are. Steven Wright's “The Joys of Projectiles: What We've Forgotten About Doom” for example, laments the rise of “realistic” modern shooters and how their largely interchangeable hitscan assault rifles have abandoned many of the mechanics that made early FPS games so pleasurable and skill testing. Others are more personal, such as Gita Jackson's touching reflection on how Counter-Strike could be seen as a microcosm of the (seemingly one-sided from her self-deprecating perspective) sibling rivalry she shared with her brother. Shooter strikes a great balance, it never gets so bogged down in technical minutia that it feels like a lecture in game design, but has enough mechanical grounding that it doesn't just become a series of anecdotes either. The games Shooter examines are varied and numerous. Of course genre forebears and trendsetters like Doom, Half-Life and Call of Duty are discussed as you would expect, but there is plenty of attention paid to less bombastically popular titles as well. Genre-defying shooters like Red Orchestra 2 with its brutally unforgiving depiction of realistic combat, and the insidious darkness of Far Cry 2, which sets aside the typical rationales for heroic violence to make the player complicit in something unsettling, get entire chapters dedicated to them. It's a great technique. By examining the few games that step outside of the bounds of typical FPS conventions and power fantasy dynamics and figuring out why they feel so different, it is easier to pinpoint the standard tropes and expectations of the genre that have become so ubiquitous that they are nearly invisible. Perhaps the greatest praise I can give to Shooter is that it made me reexamine and reflect on my feelings about a few games. When a piece of criticism grabs you by the collar and demands you take a second look at something, you know its doing it's job right. Filipe Salgado's chapter on the intentional ugliness and barely contained chaos of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days almost made me want to play through the game again with a fresh set of eyes -- eyes more willing to see past the clunky mechanics and thoroughly unlikable protagonists to scan for deeper meaning. Almost anyway (this is still Dog Days we're talking about). At its best, Shooter feels like a lively conversation with some very smart people who enjoy, but expect more from, their trigger happy games. Its snappy, intelligent, and occasionally funny. At it's worst, the book veers into the pretentious. At times, it feels less like a conversation and more like an awkward dinner party dominated by a lecturing windbag everyone is too polite to interrupt. Thankfully these rough patches are few and far between. The rest of the book is well worth putting up with the occasional eye-rolling turn of phrase. Mostly though, Shooter feels important. The industry needs more “capital C” Criticism to unravel the subtext and ideas behind the games we love. Games mean something. They impart messages, communicate ideas, either by conscious choice on the part of their developers or by the assumptions they make -- the casual omissions and things taken for granted. We have to start examining these ideas in a mature, intelligent, and yes, academic way. Shooter isn't the first example of this kind of criticism in games writing of course; there have certainly been other books written, and articles penned (on sites like Destructoid, I might add) that dive into these waters. But, it is still very much a nascent field. Video games are a young medium, and we haven't had time to establish a critical tradition like film and literature has. We need to cultivate these voices; the generation of writers that will talk about games in a serious manner in the coming decades. What better way to stake a claim in this new field than to gather a variety of exceptionally talented voices to talk about and critically examine what is generally considered gaming's dumbest, most developmentally arrested genre? The thrill of shooting a Cyber-Demon with a rocket launcher may be obvious and simple, but there is a lot to unpack when you take a closer look.
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Looking at life down the barrel of a gun
Shooters seem simple. You step into the shoes of your typical tough guy space-marine or mercenary and empty clip after clip into the faces of Nazis, or aliens, or alien-Nazis from the vaguely disembodied gun bobbing up and do...

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Deals

Kane & Lynch join the Square Enix Humble Bundle 2


Also Guardian of Light and Startopia
Feb 24
// Jordan Devore
With just under a week left to go before it vanishes, the Square Enix Humble Bundle 2 has added bonus titles: Startopia, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, and the Kane & Lynch Collection. If you already locked in your...
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Hurry, hurry, step right up
UPDATE: Due to me having car trouble and not being able to update this till now, the contest has been arbitrarily and retroactively extended to 1:08 PM EST. Any entries before this time now qualify for prizes. Isn't this...


Square Enix Steam sale photo
Square Enix Steam sale

Raid Square Enix's tomb with this weekend's Steam sale


This sale are sick
Feb 07
// Jason Faulkner
This weekend's Square Enix Publisher Weekend sale has some ridiculous deals. Some of my childhood favorites that I didn't even know made it to PC are on there, including the whole Legacy of Kain series. Here's some of the hig...
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Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Some gamers are skipping Grand Theft Auto V, unwilling to play the role of a thief, a gangbanger, or a psychopath. While others may shy away from being the villain, Jim Sterling actively revels in it. Indeed, to play the villain can not only be fun, it can be downright fascinating.

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Enslaved sells 460,000, Kane & Lynch 2 breaks a million


Feb 03
// Jim Sterling
Am I the only one who finds this just a little freakin' insane? Enslaved: Odyssey to the West failed to even sell half a million copies, while the absolutely dreadful Kane & Lynch 2 -- with its half-finished campaign, cra...
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Eidos: 'Artistic' Kane & Lynch not ready to die yet


Dec 02
// Jim Sterling
Has critical and commercial failure spelled the end for the Kane & Lynch series? According to Eidos president Ian Livingstone, it hasn't. He believes that the characters of Kane and Lynch are just too good to kill off, an...
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IO: Some reviewers didn't 'get' Kane & Lynch 2


Oct 04
// Jim Sterling
It would appear that "you didn't get it" has officially become the popular way of developers to escape acknowledging criticism of their games. While talking about Kane & Lynch 2, IO Interactive has joined the ra...
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The Kane & Lynch movie needs a new director


Sep 27
// Jordan Devore
To me, Kane & Lynch seems like an ideal candidate for the whole game-to-movie conversion process. You strip out the technical and mechanical issues, and hopefully, hopefully, you have an interesting story. Jamie Foxx and ...
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Destructoid nominates a very special game of the show


Sep 09
// Jim Sterling
I've ostensibly guaranteed that Square Enix will never send me a review copy again.  Ah well.
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Kane & Lynch 2 DLC already on the way


Aug 17
// Jim Sterling
If you play Kane & Lynch 2 and feel that there's not enough content with its five-hour story mode and limited multiplayer maps, then don't worry. IO Interactive was busy preparing downloadable content instead of finishing...

Review: Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

Aug 17 // Jim Sterling
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PS3, PC)Developer: IO InteractivePublisher: Eidos InteractiveRelease date: August 17, 2010 Kane & Lynch 2 takes us to Shanghai, China, where former schizophrenic murderer James Seth Lynch is trying to straighten up his act. He's still running illegal errands, killing people, and generally being a scumbag, but he's got a girlfriend now and seems to have gotten his mental problems in check. He and Adam "Kane" Marcus revive an old alliance for one last score -- setting up an arms deal so that the two men will be set for life. Of course, it all goes horribly wrong and soon the duo find themselves on the run from one of Shanghai's most powerful -- and violent -- men.  Dead Men had its fair share of flaws, but one thing that stood out was the amazing characterization, interesting story, and variety of unique and innovative scenarios. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days has none of this. The story is far less inspired this time, and with a single-player campaign that stretches to five hours at a generous estimate, there is no time for exploring character depth or even changing the scenery. Dog Days has nothing of the first game's ambition and vision, and from its sterile beginning to the rushed and alienating ending, there is absolutely nothing in Dog Days to compel the player onward.  Insultingly, however, while IO Interactive took all the good bits out of Dog Days, it left all the bad things in. Everything that was terrible about Dead Men has, for some inane reason, been preserved in Dog Days. It's a broken, messy, sloppy, completely unbalanced joke of a game, with a cover system that doesn't work, checkpoints that sometimes land you in the middle of deathtraps, and slow, frustrating, boring gunfights against enemies that absorb more bullets than Scarface. Kane & Lynch 2 almost parodies the cover-based shooter genre with gunfights that see players trading shots against massively overwhelming opposition that takes forever to die. What this means is that most of the game is spent pinned down behind cover, with the player's health dropping to near-zero whenever he so much as pops his head above cover. One is expected to fight this way, slowly attempting to whittle away an enemy's health before hiding again, regaining health, popping up and attempting it again. Now and then, a player can throw an explosive barrel or fire extinguisher, but it doesn't do much.   What's worse is that the cover system barely works. Most of the time, enemies can shoot you to ribbons through the cover, and many of them will just ignore the system altogether, run up to your spot, and blast you pieces. The game has a "down but not dead" feature which basically means that Lynch will fall over if he gets shot enough times. It's unnecessary and -- you guessed it -- incredibly irritating. The game's full of cheap shots, clustering enemies around corners or in hiding places to constantly ambush the player. Most of the deaths in the game is not due to player error, but the game's tendency towards ambushes or breaking the rules of its own game in order to look "challenging." It's not fun. At all. It meanders between extremely dull and intensely annoying, and not once does it ever become enjoyable, satisfying or rewarding.  In Dead Men, you truly felt like you were on an underworld adventure, and the game was full of surprises. A prison break, a bank robbery, a fight against a digger truck, a skyscraper assault and more gave the game a truly vast and varied feel that went some way toward making up for its sub-par gameplay. Kane & Lynch 2 takes place entirely in a dark and dreary Shanghai and is a pure corridor shooter throughout with nothing to break the monotony.  The relationship between Kane and Lynch, arguably the biggest draw of the entire IP, feels like it barely exists. Their interactions are limited and neither one of the duo are explored in any depth. The campaign was poorly scripted, with a story that barely even feels like it's there and characters that lack the sleazy charm of the original game. Lynch himself is a far less interesting character, with his hallucinations no longer part of the game and no real reference to his former madness outside of the occasional forgettable quip.  And then we get to Kane & Lynch 2's big gimmick -- the Youtube-style graphic effects. Dog Days is presented like an online video, with a camera that shakes and jitters as if it were being held by hand and graphics that are full of visual distortion and artifacts. As a concept, it's incredibly clever. Stretched out over several hours, however, and it will hurt your eyes. The camera swaying can be switched off, but the distortions and effects cannot, and they're the things that really do the damage. After I beat the mercifully short single-player mode, I was in actual physical pain from eye strain. The effect would have been cool for a level or two, but over the course of an entire game, it's more painful and distracting than I imagined it would have been.  Dog Days boasts a multiplayer component, which consists of three game modes -- Fragile Alliance, Undercover Cop and Cops & Robbers. As in Dead Men, the multiplayer is full of inventive concepts and cool ideas, with Fragile Alliance being the star of the show. If you never played the first game, it's an online co-op mode in which players pull off a heist and try to escape with as much cash as they can. However, the players can screw each other over for more loot, or abandon their friends if they reach the escape vehicle first. Cops & Robbers is exactly how it sounds, with one side being the cops who are trying to stop a heist undertaken by a team of criminals. I could, unfortunately, not get into a round of Undercover Cop, but it's just like the other modes with one player who is secretly a cop and needs to stop the robbery covertly. If you want some variety, there is also Arcade Mode. I lied about the variety, because it's just Fragile Alliance for people without friends. The ideas are great, but they are unfortunately married to the same broken gameplay as the story campaign,with its ambushing AI and broken cover system. Essentially, you're just playing the single-player mode with a bunch of other people who have to suffer it with you. Misery loves company, but company does not make this game any less miserable.  Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is a game that plays how it looks -- it's distorted, confusing and thoroughly ugly. The fact that IO Interactive had a second chance and squandered it seems to suggest that the excuses made for Dead Men simply weren't true. The "mistakes" have happened all over again, and worse, anything that made Dead Men enjoyable has been sucked out to leave a shriveled, decaying husk.  This game was Kane and Lynch's chance to get a title that such interestingly dark characters deserve, and it's a chance that has been wasted on incompetent design and half-hearted writing. I actually cannot think of a single positive thing to say about the game, and the fact that I have been rooting for this IP from the moment the first game was announced just makes it all the more infuriating. I wished nothing but the best for Kane & Lynch as a series, but the appalling nature of Dog Days confirms to me that this franchise will never be what it deserves to be.  There is only one thing that Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days succeeds at. It makes Kane & Lynch: Dead Men look really, really good.  Score: 1.0 -- Epic Fail (1s are the lowest of the low. There is no potential, no skill, no depth and no talent. These games have nothing to offer the world, and will die lonely and forgotten.)
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Kane & Lynch: Dead Men was one of the most notorious games of this generation. Famously bad, the game made headlines after a GameSpot reviewer gave it a low score and ended up fired because, allegedly, it had upset Eidos ...

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Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days gets a launch trailer


Aug 13
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
While this launch trailer is all CG, it captures what the game is perfectly. A gritty f*cked up shooter starring two anti-heroes that don't give a damn. We've seen the game a ton already here at Destructoid -- from the singl...
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Kane & Lynch 2 preorder details, co-op trailer


Aug 10
// Dale North
There's about a week left before Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days comes out, so you should get on the pre-orders if you're interested. There's actually four different pre-order content packs that you'll nab at retailers Amazon, ...
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Kane & Lynch: Ex-mercenary & psychopath


Aug 05
// Conrad Zimmerman
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is out in a couple of weeks now, August 17th to be exact, which means that we'll no doubt see a lot of videos and screenshots of the title for a fortnight. Why, just look at these piping hot...
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Kane & Lynch 2 gets yet another trailer


Aug 02
// Jim Sterling
I'll say one thing for Square Enix and Eidos, they've not been shy on the trailer front. Here is another video for Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, this one centered around Marcus Kane, the embittered ex-mercenary who decided t...
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Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days trailer and screens


Jul 30
// Jim Sterling
Here's a brand new trailer and a batch of fresh screenshots for Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, otherwise known as pretty much the only retail game in August that I'm looking forward to. The latest trailer is pretty mental, wi...
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A quick glimpse at the Kane & Lynch comic book


Jul 29
// Jordan Devore
We previously told you that a Kane & Lynch comic book was on the way. All well and good, especially considering the flawed-but-interesting nature of K&L, but now we have something even better: a couple of pages from t...
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Kane and Lynch 2 demo hitting PS Plus on Tuesday


Jul 18
// Matthew Razak
All you PS3 owners out there who have been waiting to get your hands on the Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days like 360 owners have been doing for a while now don't have to wait much longer -- as long as you pay Sony 50 bucks a year ...
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Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days getting released a week early


Jul 13
// Jim Sterling
Can't wait to step into the shoes of a schizophrenic sociopath and shoot Chinese policemen in the face? Good news is coming your way then, with news that Square Enix is publishing Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days a week earlier i...
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Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days screenshots are for looking at


Jul 09
// Jim Sterling
A fresh batch of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days screenshots are here for your amusement. Look at them if you like looking at screenshots of things.  After having played the demo, I am keeping myself optimistically hopeful ...
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Kane and Lynch 2's Arcade Mode gets screens


Jul 03
// Matthew Razak
We've already told you all about Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days' multiplayer mode "Fragile Alliance," and I'm sure you're chomping at the bit to get some time with it. However, you might want to take a step back and get some prac...
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I'm one of the most forgiving writers you'll find on the subject of Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. No, it wasn't a good game, packed full of balancing and technical problems, but its commitment to miserable protagonists and unco...

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Get the Kane & Lynch 2 demo today, possibly


Jul 01
// Jordan Devore
So, Nick told you about the forthcoming Kane & Lynch 2 demo. I'm here to remind you it's no longer forthcoming. While a traditional open-to-all demo is coming to PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 before the game comes out, ...
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Exclusive Kane & Lynch 2 demo hitting Xbox 360 in July


Jun 25
// Nick Chester
[Update] We've clarified with a Square Enix rep that "exclusive" means for a limited time only, and that PlayStation 3 and PC gamers can expect a "consumer demo" in the future, as well. No timing has been revealed, so if you ...
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Exclusive: Kane & Lynch 2 comic book cover


Jun 22
// Dale North
We've known for a bit that Square Enix's Kane & Lynch 2 would be getting its own comic book. The game story's comic, which further explores the duo's past, is getting its adaptation from DC's Wildstorm label, and is writt...
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E3 10: Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days show floor video thing


Jun 17
// Matthew Razak
I am seriously running out of clever headlines to inform you of gameplay videos on the E3 showroom floor. We just have a seriously staggering amount of them to show off for you, as you have most likely noticed. Next up is so...
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Kane and Lynch's Kane drunk dials us, has wrong number


Jun 11
// Nick Chester
So around 10:30 last night, I received a phone call from an unknown number. I sent the call to voice mail for two reasons. One, I gave at the office. Two, I was trying to watch RoboCop with my wife. Priorities. Turned out it...
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This trailer for Kane & Lynch 2 is piquing my interest


Jun 08
// Conrad Zimmerman
I didn't play Kane & Lynch, myself. The reviews more or less convinced me to stay far, far away. But this E3 trailer for Dog Days is making me consider picking it up just to get to know more about the characters. Th...
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Kane and Lynch movie director has left film


May 29
// Matthew Razak
More disappointing news for those who thought a quality videogame movie might be on the horizon (all one of you). The Latino Review is reporting that the upcoming Kane and Lynch movie, starring Buce Willis and Jamie Foxx, has...

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