What exactly is new then? Well, first and foremost the mode feels a lot tighter than the original. This is true for the campaign too, which welcomes a more robust control scheme, an easier cover system, and improved shooting. In short, it handles a lot better than its cumbersome predecessor. While improvements such as this were vital, it's the addition of all-new features which have a more profound effect on the way the game actually plays.
Krogh admitted that it was too easy to become a traitor in Fragile Alliance 1, and by that he meant it could often happen by accident. A new 'yellow card' system means you can shoot another player without becoming a traitor straight away. This means that accidentally shooting a comrade in the midst of a shoot out won't ruin the rest of your game. Also, if somebody does try to stab you in the back, you can kill them without being branded a traitor yourself. A 'down but not dead' mechanic makes this easier too, allowing you to see who's had a pop at you before you die. While grounded, you can press A to get up, and then hunt the traitorous bastard down and exact your revenge. There's also the option to take another player as a human shield, which will label you a traitor instantly.
Purely from a gameplay perspective, Fragile Alliance holds up admirably. I did, however, have certain issues with the scoring system, which I felt didn't reward skill appropriately. For example (and this is also me justifying my losses over the course of the day), in several games I was one of the last members of the alliance left alive, shooting through hordes of goons and policeman all on my lonesome. When I inevitably died, however, my score would remain a big fat zero (cash is only added to your score after escaping). In contrast, players that died in the first few minutes of the game could rack up fairly respectable scores as a re-spawned policeman. Even though I had technically done better than my fallen comrades, the scores refused to reflect my achievements. Still, I'm sure these problems will even out over a longer period of time.
Bar a few annoyances, Fragile Alliance 2 is a thoroughly refreshing take on third-person multiplayer. It's tense, brutal and totally unpredictable; you can't trust any of your so called 'comrades' at all. In combination with the other multiplayer modes, there's enough here to extend the life of the game considerably. What with Gears of War, Uncharted 2 and more recently Lost Planet 2, third-person shooter multiplayer is becoming an increasingly saturated genre. Whether Kane and Lynch 2 manages to attract any of this growing audience remains to be seen, but the originality and refined execution of its concept are certainly worth taking note of.
Kane & Lynch 2 is due for release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on August 27.