Kane & Lynch 2 – Good Game Ruined by a Terrible Ending

KaneAndLynch2.jpg

I have a quick question: how important are game endings to you? Can a poor climax ruin an otherwise good game or do you need a satisfying conclusion as a reward for your hours of emotional investment? OK, so I guess that’s more like two or three questions, but whatever.

Anyhoo… the reason I ask is because I just finished up Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, and despite really, really enjoying the bulk of the game, the abrupt ending completely destroyed the experience for me. It may sound overly harsh to say that what basically amounts to a split-second moment in a six to eight hour game brings the entire thing crumbling down, but for Kane & Lynch 2 that is the sad reality.

To preface, let me reiterate that I had a blast playing through Kane & Lynch 2. Just like with the first game, opinions – both from professional reviewers and the everyday Joe Shmoe gamer – seem to be polarized to the extreme, ranging from vitriolic hate to admiration for the game’s gritty realism and unrelenting violence and vulgarity.

Personally, my opinion of the game fits into the latter category. I can certainly see why so many people find it distasteful, but for me the game’s real-time-recording documentary style, disgusting graphical filters, jarring shaky cam, love-to-hate antiheroes and visceral gameplay combine for what, to my tastes, turned out to be an even more engaging and immersive crime drama than I imagined it would be – and my hopes were already high going into it after being impressed by the demo.

I’ve heard some talk about the gameplay – more specifically the cover system — as being “broken,” but really the term that best describes Kane & Lynch 2’s gameplay is “realistic.” At first, it is frustrating that even when you are hiding behind cover shots can still make it through and hit you, and that you can unload a full clip of bullets at a single enemy and not take them down. But once you get into the groove you realize that you are supposed to space out your shots, use blind fire, and constantly keep yourself moving – you aren’t supposed to spray bullets rapid fire or hunker down in one spot until you’ve cleared out the entire area.

I went through on the max difficulty setting, and after fighting through early frustrations I figured out what the developers were trying to accomplish and proceeded to finish things off without much trouble. I found the cover system to be quite dynamic, and even though much of the game can be summed up as “just another third-person shooter,” there is a sense of chaos, tension and method to the gameplay that somehow feels completely different from every other shooter I’ve played recently. Lynch is always talking to himself while you’re playing too, which pulls you into the character and ramps up the insanity.

But as much as I enjoyed 99% of the game, I still can’t get over how unfinished it feels solely because of its ending – or lack of an ending I should say. I’m not shitting you here: you are literally playing through the final stage as the game seems to be building towards this epic finale, and then it just…ends. There is no closure on anything that had happened throughout the story, nor is there even a tease for what might happen should Kane and Lynch team back up for a third game. Seriously, in the blink of an eye the game just stops and the credits begin to roll – no payoff, no cliffhanger, no nothing.

It’s a very odd circumstance, and one that I don’t think I’ve found myself in before. I’ve been let down by endings before, sure, but never to this extent. I went from being fully engrossed by the game and ready to sing its praises to being completely disappointed and feeling as if I’d just wasted six to eight hours of my life without getting anything in return. There are a number of memorable scenes worth reliving, so part of me is tempted to go back and replay it like re-watching a favorite movie. But another part of me is saying “why bother?” since I know there is no reward waiting for me at the end.

So, let me bring it back to you. How much do you value endings in the games that you play? Have you played Kane & Lynch 2 yet? What did you think of its ending?

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!