Welcome to Shanghai

Today was entirely unproductive, unless playing video games is productive.

I finished off Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. It was a relatively interesting game, if a little repetitive. I beat it in less than five hours, and at least one of those hours was spent between bashing my head against the frustratingly difficult “El Capitolio” and the ridiculously long time it takes between starting the game and getting to the menu. It’s painful. The game uses Games for Windows Live, which I don’t have a problem with because I loooooove cheevos but you start the game, then it logs you into GFWL, then it shows the developer and publisher, then it finds your save game and notifies you that it has been loaded, THEN it starts the intro movie. You can, thankfully, escape out of it, but the time from game start to menu is easily a solid 30 seconds.

But that’s just me bitching. The game moves fast. Really fast. You’re escaping from prison, you’re robbing a bank, you’re fighting in a nightclub in Japan, you’re overthrowing the Cuban government, you’re assaulting a hacienda in Venezuela, then it’s over. The AI, friendly and enemy, is rather dumb and the enemies are fragile so it’s much easier to use the friendly AIs as a distraction and then clean up all the enemies yourself. The characters, the titular Kane and Lynch, are a traitor and psychopath respectively. There’s not enough time spent with them to really flesh them out. The production quality is pretty good and it feels very cinematic but the graphics aren’t exactly awesome. I only spent $5 on it so I feel like I got enough for my money but if I had spent a full $50, I’d be a little upset. I guess there’s more of the game tied up in the multiplayer, but I doubt anyone’s playing.

After a relatively brief break, I started into Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days and just finished it. I was thrilled to find that Io Interactive did not punish me with another insane game start to menu time. This one is even shorter, clocking in at less than four hours! The game changes a little, and it is an improvement. The graphics look fantastic, and the game’s viewpoint is from the perspective of someone who is chasing Lynch with a digital camcorder. There’s a lot of shakey-cam and a lot of video distortion from lights and movement and damage and it’s all rather beautiful. Most of the shootouts take place in more enclosed areas and the environment takes believable damage with every shot.

If I were to describe the difference between the first game and the second, I’d say that Dog Days is a tighter experience. Whereas the first game gave you a degree of control over friendly AIs, this one doesn’t. You play as Lynch and Kane just kind of does his own thing. I can’t say he or the enemy AI was as dumb this time around. Both will do their best to outflank each other. The levels themselves are often in pretty cramped quarters.

There are no grenades this time around either, and the weapons aren’t as accurate. They mostly consist of submachine guns, shotguns, pistols, and the occasional rifle. There are opportunities to toss a can of gas or fire extinguisher at enemies and blow it up, but those can’t be carried around forever. So cramped quarters, bullet-hose guns, and no grenades resulted in a lot of standoffs where you’re just hiding behind a box, waiting for the bad guy to pop his head out for a second and then spraying bullets at him and hoping he died.

There are no intentionally funny moments in either game but there’s a humorous moment in Dog Days. The two have been tortured by Chinese mafia and are running naked through the streets of Shanghai in the rain. There’s a shootout in an amazingly good looking McDonald’s-esque fast food joint. So there’s a moment where two middle-aged men, naked, wet, and bleeding, are exchanging gunfire with a Chinese SWAT team while taking cover behind the counter at a McDonalds.

Between the two, I enjoyed Kane & Lynch 2 more, despite the short campaign. I only paid $5 for it also, so I feel like I got enough out of it, but once again I’d be upset if I had paid the full $50.

Tomorrow it is going to rain and I have all five of my Monday classes to attend. I am not looking forward to spending the day with a wet asscrack.