It's been less than a week since Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days was released, but considering the single player campaign lasts a scant 4 to 5 hour it's safe to assume most have completed it by now. Still, for a game that aims for style over substance and claims it's a multiplayer focused experience, there's still a number of discussion points within the game.
No one can argue that Kane and Lynch's film grain, shaky-cam, distortion filled presentation is amazingly done, but would it be anywhere near as piquant without the ultra-violence and psychologically caustic storyline? Is Kane and Lynch's downward spiral emotionally piercing or disappointingly numb? Read on for my thoughts and analysis, and make sure to leave your musings in the comments below!Thar be spoilers from here on mate! Continue on if you've already finished the game or if you're interested in where Kane and Lynch ended up in Dog Days.
Simply put, there's only so many important plot situations you can have in a four hour game. Rather than talk about each I've picked a few that I think are especially intriguing, and the rest, in my opinion, are meaningless - beyond keeping up the mind-numbing ultra-violence Kane & Lynch thrives on.
First a quick summary, so we don't have to explain as we go along. Lynch has somehow started a relationship with a nice lady in Shanghai. Even with this grasp at normalcy, he has obviously maintained some ties to the underworld, which has led to an upcoming arms deal. Enter Kane, claiming this is his last job (for the sake of his daughter).
Let's speed things up, Kane and Lynch kill a girl that's in their way, and anger a very powerful father that's coincidentally also a government official. Kane and Lynch then spend the rest of the game attempting to simultaneously complete their arms deal and escape from Shanghai at the same time. Naturally, they murder hordes of police officers, gang members and military personnel along the way.
Nothing goes right, the deal goes awry, they manage to kill the government official and escape by hijacking a commercial airliner. The game literally ends as they climb up the stairs into the plane and take off the runway. An abrupt, unsympathetic non-ending for the ages, but we'll come back to this.
The most intriguing portion of Kane & Lynch 2's storyline was without a doubt Lynch's relationship. Ignoring the question of how a psychopath like Lynch could form a relationship with any person, the game does an interesting job at portraying Lynch's need for his lover Xiu. Lynch constantly yearns for Xiu, demanding that he and Kane reach her apartment complex to make sure she is safe.
The underlying metaphor quickly becomes apparent: Xiu is Lynch's idea of normalcy, but Lynch is programmed for chaos. I'd assert that the man is absolutely incapable of love in the first place, his relationship is an act where neither participant is willing to admit the truth. Naturally, it's not long before Lynch has to sabotage it. Even before the game begins, it's implied that Lynch continues to take part in the seedy underworld of Shanghai. Does Xiu even relize? Does Lynch's know the danger he's putting her in, or does he care? As Lynch begins his murderous rampage, he continues to believe Xiu will wait for him, will love him. His delusions eventually cause her demise.
Inevitably, Xiu is captured and Lynch prevents the last opportunity to save her. Kane has a bead on the man holding Xiu hostage but Lynch turns and punches Kane, knocking him out. The next loading screen plays audio of Xiu being tortured and when the next level begins, Xiu is dead. Lynch's devolution back into a monster is complete, his subconscious has won.
The Nude Level
The level after Xiu's death has Kane and Lynch running through the streets of Shanghai nude, covered in razor cuts and bleeding profusely. It's this level that most accurately depicts the true nature of Dog Days. Naked, bleeding, ignoring all pain, killing everyone in their way, Kane and Lynch are surviving the only way they know how.
Kane still intends to complete his arms deal, and Lynch probably has some inclinations at revenge, but both of them likely know that nothing is going to work out from here on. Shoot first, ask questions later, hopefully live to see another day.
Kane's Daughter/The End of the Game
Kane & Lynch 2 alludes to Kane's relationship with his daughter a fair amount of times, specifically Kane's interest in completing this job in order to get back to her. For those familiar with the original Kane & Lynch, you might recall that Jenny was grievously injured at the end. She's also undoubtedly traumatized by the experiences she has with her father.
It doesn't make much difference because, in the context of Kane & Lynch 2, a backstory isn't needed. Kane's daughter is a simple excuse for murdering countless people. "If I keep killing, I can see my daughter again." Does he really want to see his daughter, or similar Lynch's relationship with Xiu, is it just a means for Kane to keep pulling the trigger?
The game ends with a flight out of Shanghai and a phone message from Kane to his daughter. He says he is coming home. Now, I've heard numerous people share their frustrations over this ending - claiming it's a non-ending and a cop-out considering there was no closure. I think you have to look at the ending from a different angle.
Consider a horror movie, after the monsters have gone on their murderous rampage and everything seems to have finally calmed down. The monsters aren't killing anymore, perhaps everyone can get back to normalcy. Then the monsters hand comes out of the lake, or out of the ground, or its eyes open when you thought it was dead. That's Kane and Lynch 2's ending!
They climb onto the plane and begin to fly away. Okay, thank goodness, the endless psychotic rampage is over. No one else has to die. Then we get that last phone call from Kane to his daughter. Most players will say, "Isn't that nice, Kane is finally going to see his daughter. He's trying to become a better person." No, I say, that isn't the intention at all. That phone call is a threat; the call is the monster's eyes opening when it was supposed to be dead.
Kane is going to visit his daughter and say he loves her and talk about how everything will be alright. We all know though, that where Kane and Lynch go, they bring with them fire and brimstone. The end of Kane & Lynch 2 is a promise that the rampage can and will continue. We should all fear for Kane's daughter and her well-being.