Kane and Lynch was certainly a memorable game when first released, if not for it's unusual co-op campaign then for its characters. Violent and unstable with a script that bordered somewhere between offensive and unintelligible it was a shock that a second game would ever surface. But apparently someone, somewhere thought that a sequel to the underwhelming Kane and Lynch was necessary. If the gameplay and brand new mechanics really work out the way they should, that very same someone may just be onto something big.
The first game's brutal mistake was assuming that simply featuring a string of bad words, standard violence, and even more obtuse swearing would make an edgy game. Violence for the sake of violence is easily identifiable, not very entertaining, and though Kane and Lynch 2 doesn't appear to be straying away from the first's formula there are some notable changes. Instead of cut and pasting a typical over-the-shoulder angle and calling it a day, the game will feature a much more dynamic and interactive camcorder look. The goal of the new camera is to add a more realistic feel to the game, while at the same time giving players a more intuitive look at their environment. Meant to bob and swing as the player looks around corners, takes cover, runs, or ducks it's a hell of a lot more interesting than simply working with a static camera angle.
It also does exactly what the first game never did, which was provide a unique atmosphere. As players get shot the film becomes more grainy, harder to see, and even at its clearest there are lens effects that are very distinct to any low quality camcorder. It also gives a sense of dynamic urgency, having to work with an imperfect camera, which is a very nice shift from the crystal clear reduced-HUD layout that most shooting games are taking. It'll also (hopefully) mean a lot more chaos overall, something the first game tried hard to accomplish but never quite made it there.
Of course, the most memorable aspect of Kane and Lynch had to be its multiplayer mode, a estranged version of Cops and Robbers where players were given the opportunity to take part in a bank heist. The twist was that players could also betray each other at any point during the heist, for a better score. Realizing that this multiplayer mode was most likely the only major success of the first title, the sequel will feature Fragile Alliance in addition to a new mode called Arcade Mode. Arcade gives players (along with seven computer controlled criminals) four minutes to obtain millions of dollars while trying to escape from law enforcement. It may not sound very different from Fragile Alliance, but the computer controlled teammates add a very nice twist, and having multiple rounds means that anyone foolish enough to betray a team early will be giving away their motives.
The idea of playing a 'bad guy' is one that must be taken with a lot more care than simply playing a 'good guy with questionable means'. In one, players must judge the weight of their actions versus how valuable their goal is. In the other, both the ends and the means are reprehensible, but somehow we must find ourselves rooting for the antihero anyway. Where the first Kane and Lynch failed was in creating a world where players could identify and support any sort of villain, and it looks like all of those problems are being addressed in the sequel. A darker, grittier world followed by motives that are a lot more transparent helps us identify with the characters a bit better. But the real selling point in Kane and Lynch 2 will be the revamped cooperative experience. How the games individual pieces will fit together is something we'll find out in the full release, but for now this very different approach to violence looks like on that just might stick.