Kane & Lynch: iO's biggest misfire

Looking back on the little franchise that couldn't

Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days turned ten yesterday and, as a result, is now retro. After I finished processing this fact, I ascended to the kingdom of heaven and killed God for having the temerity to create the passage of time. Now, in my newfound position as assumed creator and architect of all life, I briefly used my power for evil (benign, don't worry) before returning to Retronauts to do some more writing, realising it was the only thing that really mattered to me. Someone else can pick up the mess.

Speaking of picking up the mess, did you know that Dog Days ends on a big, fat cliffhanger that was never resolved? Sorry for the spoilers, but it finished up with the titular John Kane and Alan Lynch (Those aren't their names. - Eidos) hijacking a commercial flight to Ecuador, with the filth in hot pursuit. But that plane never landed, because outside of a DLC appearance in Lara Croft & the Guardian of Light, and cameos in the risible Hitman Absolution, mssrs Kane and/or Lynch were never seen again by any living human being. And that's a bit of a shame.

I quite liked the original Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. It was a refreshingly nihilistic dual-character third-person shooter, borrowing squad-based mechanics from creator io Interactive's previous (excellent) Freedom Fighters and mixing it all together to... decent effect. It's decent. You can play the whole thing in split-screen, which goes a long way for me. Indeed, there are some fun little bits that utilise Lynch's psychosis - my co-op partner found himself gunning down civilians during a bank job gone wrong, because they were appearing on his screen as pig-headed monsters. It doesn't go far enough with this stuff, but there was enough there that I appreciated. The sheer cruelty of the game's seventh chapter is one of the few things in gaming history to put a lump in my throat, thanks to Brian Bloom's performance as Kane.

The sequel files down the original game's rough edges and ditches the squad stuff, in my view making it the lesser effort. What it does bring to the table is another harrowing, miserable story of terrible people doing awful things to other terrible people, the likes of which haven't really been presented in a video game since with this level of verisimillitude (Someone is writing a comment about LISA: The Painful right now, to which I say; behave). A rather brilliant and inspired handheld camera aesthetic terrifically enhances this otherwise mechanically rote cover-based shooter, with a glare, aberration and - best of - headshots resulting in the instant pixellation of the enemy's entire head, an effect that retains its shocking viscerality to this very day. The graphics have aged, no doubt, but their presentation retains an impressive vibrancy.

Sadly, that's all she wrote for Kane & Lynch, who are gone and never coming back. Even Army of Two got three games, but not these lads. And that's a shame, because I feel like they were one game away from nailing it. And even if they hadn't, it would likely still have been another enjoyably grubby shoot-'em-up that I alone would have enjoyed. I know I'm a limited demographic of one (1), but I feel I deserved to be catered to nonetheless.