Every day in the United Kingdom, we spend approximately 2.5 million pounds on coffee. I, like many others, think nothing of walking into a high street coffee shop and spending three pound on my Massimo, Double Shot, Skinny Gingerbread Latte; so why do people baulk at the idea of paying that for a mobile game? I’m Professor Kelvin Harris, Codec Moments’ resident scientist. I am on a mission to document interesting games that cost less than your cappuccino, which might entertain you at home, on your way to work, or even during your coffee break.
This week’s Cost of a Coffee game is Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, which was universally panned upon release. However seeing it for £2.99 at our local GAME store, we purchased it in lieu of our usual caffeinated pick-me-up. It’s the game that everyone thought IO Interactive shouldn’t have wasted their time developing. When I heard this was getting development time rather than a new Hitman game, I was more disappointed than the time that six tonnes of leaking liquid helium damaged some 50 superconducting magnets and contaminated the proton tube with soot at the Large Hadron Collider. Things didn’t start well when the install corrupted before the menu had even loaded. Not good. Deleting and restarting fixed the problem and we were treated to possibly one of the prettiest menu screens I’ve ever seen, which consist of handycam images of scenes from Shanghai. They are very nicely detailed and some of them are difficult to differentiate from real footage. This aesthetic flows through to the game itself with all the areas you visit having a nice level of detail to the environments, which we’d expect from the pedigree of the developer. Unfortunately that’s about the best of it.
You play as the psychotic Lynch this time around, which was genuinely marketed as a unique selling point upon release. You’ve not seen Kane for a while, but he’s heading to meet you for some heist based shenanigans in the Republic of China. All starts well, but give it 5 minutes and you’ve seen everything the game has to offer. This is a short and blunt statement, but it’s true. It’s a cover based shooter that has no variation in gameplay at all throughout the 6 hours or so you spend with it. There is no real interaction with the environments other than hiding behind ineffectual cover, the characters glitch and don’t continue as they’re supposed to, aiming at anything beyond 5 feet is painful, and the AI is the king of getting in the way and pushing you out of cover. It sounds bad, and it is. The story is predictable and you’ll have worked out what’s going to happen from the start of the second level. The characters are all as one-dimensional as Euclidean Space when n=1. You’re supposed to empathise with Lynch through his limited story arc, but we found it hard to care about him or Kane. The one refreshing thing is the YouTube style presentation. I liked the way the handheld camera style following the two protagonists was executed, but it does detract from the good looking environments discussed earlier. The colours never look quite right due to the addition of effects such as motion blur and digital artifacts. Finally there’s a strange juxtaposition where the game pixelates things you’re not meant to see, like blown off heads, nudity, etc., but oddly lets Kane, Lynch and the ensemble cast swear like sailors with no censorship. Though in fairness, you’d never hear anything if that was the case..
Is it worth the Cost of a Coffee? At £2.99 yes. I’ve played something that I would have avoided totally at recommended retail value, for the same price as a Massimo Mocha Latte, but I’ve no desire to play it again. I endured, rather than enjoyed the game and I think the real reason for the disappointment, is knowing that the developers are capable of so much more than this.
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