A few years ago, broken-nosed Kane and psycho Lynch made their debut as Dead Men. While Dog Days is certainly an improved upon sequel, it is plagued with many flaws, repetition, and the journey ends a little too quickly.
Taking place in Shanghai, the game’s backdrop allows for a unique atmosphere. Combine this more cramped version of a mini and worn down Vegas with the game’s reality TV style camera and Dog Days has quite the memorable aesthetic. Unlike other 3rd person shooters, the entire game is played from the perspective of what seems to be a drunken cameraman armed with a handheld camcorder from the early 90’s. The game constantly displays all action with strange lens artifacts, blinding lens flare and mirrored lighting. Like an episode of Man Vs Wild or Saving Private Ryan, the shakiness of the camera might be enough to spark nausea in some players, but this option can be turned off. However, the film grain will always remain. Luckily, it doesn’t take long to get adjusted to these unusual, but powerful, lens techniques.
The whole point of filming the game from this nitty-gritty camera perspective is to enhance the game’s in-your-face brutality. In the opening 20 minutes of gameplay, the player will be witness to multiple murders, a bloody and disgusting suicide, and flashbacks to torture. Needless to say, Kane and Lynch are subjected to some pretty horrific events throughout the entire 48 hour adventure; no wonder why they have mental problems.
Dog Days is a cover mechanic 3rd person shooter. Basically the entire game will have the player doing nothing more than shooting at AI enemies from behind a wall. There is no option for exploration or quests to find hidden objects; the player will only travel on a linear path and will be forced to shoot everyone along the way. While the game’s high brutally level and unique camera system makes this one-dimensional gameplay entertaining, its novelty starts to wane at about the game’s half-way point, keeping in mind that the story mode only takes about 4-5 hours to complete.
Repetition sets in rather quickly as the player constantly fights the same enemies, uses the same weapons, and uses the same strategies to take them down. Making matters worse is the fact that weapons fail to separate themselves from one another. All the rifles and machine type weapons are the same – they shoot fast but have horrible accuracy. So much so, that I found myself using a pistol most of the time, or better yet, a shotgun that has better long distance range and accuracy than most of the game’s machine guns and rifles. Also making Dog Days unique is the complete lack of grenades. Instead, the player can randomly find exploding canisters, like a fire extinguisher, to hurl at enemies. The game makes this mechanic easy for the player as throwing and shooting/exploding is performed with one button auto-aim.
Even on Easy Mode, Dog Days still provides quite the challenge. Simply put, you will spend a lot of time taking damage. Like other games in the genre, Dog Days uses a regenerating health system; you can take damage, just don’t take too much as once or you will die. Also adding to the game’s brutality level is how the game treats near death situations. When you take too much damage, your character might fall to the floor. Here, the player can crawl to cover or can even shoot to get revenge on your attacker. Sure other games have implemented this perk before, but because of the jarring camera, Dog Days take it to a whole new level.
The game’s story mode can be played single player or co-op, both online and same sofa. Surprisingly, your friendly AI computer partner actually helps take down enemies when not controlled by another human. In fact, the friendly AI might even work a little too well as the player can easily take advantage of this by simply moving closer to action. You see, your computer control AI teammate will follow you wherever you go; as long as you are close to the firefight, your AI pal is sure to takedown a fair share of bad guys. Your partner cannot die either so feel free to send him in the middle of combat without penalty. I guess having a well programmed AI buddy is better than having a dumb one. The same goes for your opponents as they smartly use flanking and covering techniques, again, which all add up to the game’s higher difficulty.
The story mode might be short, but it is still entertaining. Combat is always at the forefront and is fast paced. The 48 hours that Kane and Lynch spend in China are nothing short of agony and suffering. One scene and level in particular will have the player looking at more man-ass than the Raiden segment of Metal Gear Solid 2: The Sons of Liberty. Even when you perform a well placed headshot, the Gaussian blur effect over the blown off area of the body makes the game that much more sadistic. With that said, this is definitely a mature game.
Unfortunately, the game’s ending is a disappointment and there is really only one stage that is different from all the others – you hijack a helicopter and use a large gun to take out other helicopters high in the sky. This is just another reason why the repetition is a big factor in the game’s narrative.
My time spent in the online multiplayer department was definitely displeasing. I give the game credit for trying all new competitive modes as opposed to the typical deathmatch and CTF. Implementing s cops and robbers style of competitive gameplay, where the goal is to steal money even from your own teammates, is a breath of fresh air. However, the game suffers tremendously from imbalance and cheap tactics. I literally played an entire match that consisted of nothing but spawn killing. My team continually got slaughtered within seconds after respawning into battle since spawn points are more consistent than random. Making matters even more frustrating, the game does not let the player shoot until several seconds pass after a respawn, making the game like shooting fish in a barrel. Sure, playing a new type of competitive game that can involve betrayal to increase your own personal gain sounds entertaining, but when the game is plagued with spawn killing, inconsistent weapons, lag and unbalanced gameplay, players will surely rage-quit more often than not from this nearly broken experience.
For the short while it lasts, Dog Days’ campaign isn’t bad; it is simply too short. Normally a short campaign is excusable when quality online multiplayer modes are implemented but this is simply not the case. This sequel would provide a quality weekend rental, but will definitely provide hesitation regarding a full retail purchase.
Better Than: Getting tortured with box cutters
Also Try: Dark Sector
Wait For It: Gears of War 3
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