If you're a raving psychopath it's probably best you don't get hold of an arsenal of weapons and go on a rampage with your unhinged buddy. Despite a less than favourable reception from critics the original Kane & Lynch managed to sell remarkably well at retail and became infamous. Still, any publicity is good publicity, right? Square Enix and dev house IO Interactive will be hoping people are talking about this year's sequel, Dog Days, for reasons other than a high profile games journalist being fired.
Unlike the original game, Dog Days casts you primarily as Lynch, a dangerously self-medicated psychopath. After the tragic events of the first game the long-haired one has managed to settle down, relatively speaking, in Shanghai. While certainly not living a 'normal' life, he's not letting rip with a shotgun every other second while hiding behind a desk riddled with bullet holes. Things, quite predictably don't remain this way for long.
Lynch has arranged a deal that will earn him a lot of cash, so he calls in his old pal Kane to help out. While the reformed killer insists that this job isn't going to end up in chaos, the peaceful life is inevitably interrupted by plenty of extreme gun-based violence as the two men shoot anyone that stands in their way. From the early levels I've played, Dog Days offers plenty of thrilling third-person, cover-based shooting, with an intriguing, if still to be developed, storyline. But what, if anything, does it offer that we haven't seen before?
In terms of how it plays, straight away it's a hell of a lot smoother. The auto lock into cover mechanic from the original has been dumped in favour of a much better 'press button to move into cover' system. In short, it works, whereas the clumsy setup in the first title caused more than a few bouts of swearing. You're also, as is fashionable in games these days, limited to carrying two weapons, but there's so many weapons left behind from fallen enemies that it's never hard to switch to something else if you want to.
Combat is frenetic, with the gun-toting fruitcake and balding hard man under almost constant attack from cops and other enemies, including everyone's favourite, snipers. You can hit back, though, even with objects from the environment. At various points in the opening few stages you're able to grab items, such as gas canisters and fire extinguishers, lob them towards enemies and then shoot them. This, as is written in the action game rulebook, results in a big explosion that kills or injures all the nearby bad guys.