In week two of our Critically Panned Games We Love, we look at three more shocking titles that our writers love even though they really shouldn’t. You bad, bad people. Kane & Lynch 2 (Adam)
As a companion to my thoughts on GTA4, I’ve selected Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days. Whereas GTA’s mix of social commentary and heavy-brow’d tragedy feels distracting and pompous, Kane & Lynch 2 is obsessively consistent in its design. It’s one of the few action games I’ve ever played that has absolutely zero pretensions about its artistic value. But it goes even further than that- it is actively unlikeable -and that’s what makes it great.
Things open with the titular contract-killers Kane and Lynch naked, tied to chairs, and serving as whetstones for a madman’s scalpel. They reside in a similar state of physical torment and emotional vacuity throughout the game’s four-hour campaign, and the player doesn’t feel a single whit of it. Kane and Lynch are aggressive, vulgar, and it never occurs to them to back down from the Triad leader who’s out for their blood. Instead, they bull their way through the most distasteful parts of Shanghai trying to kill their way out. The shooting is rote, the level designs are simple and ugly, and the AI’s heads are practically magnetized to your crosshairs.
So what makes any of this redeemable? The fact that it’s the first shooter I’ve played that felt specifically designed to match its gameplay with the ambition of its story. Nothing feels broken or underdeveloped here, just aiming as low as possible. The valuable experience at the core of K&L2 is experiencing a brutal indictment of games that might play great, but boast of more than they can deliver in their storytelling (here’s looking at you, Gears of War). It might be utter trash, and it ended up on several “worst games of the year” lists, but Kane & Lynch 2 is worth playing, simply because it’s a pointed response to a specific time and trend in gaming- and a challenge for developers to become better storytellers, if they aspire to that at all.
Command and Conquer 4 (Joel)
I am admittedly an RTS fan but probably more so a Command and Conquer fan. I can’t count the number of hours I put into some of those first few games and the amount of joy I received from them. Then the series started to tire and by Red Alert 3 I was skeptical if I could ever love an RTS again.
Then came Command & Conquer 4 a game that by the time it had been released I had almost given up on the genre. And for some reason the game just caught me. I knew it wasn’t a good game, the single player being uninteresting, the DRM being obtrusive, and the overall game just not living up to the lore of the series. However for some reason I fell in love, and what’s even more insane is it wasn’t with the single or multiplayer but with the Skirmish mode.
I probably put more time into the Skirmish mode of C&C 4 then I did in the past few C&C games combined. There was something about the focus on battle and getting away from just gathering resources that really tickled my fancy. I also really enjoyed the pacing of the skirmish which on the harder difficulty settings really raised the challenge of the game and made you feel more strategic then any past C&C game.
Although admittedly, not the series finest outing, I for one loved Command & Conquer 4 for being different and providing a game that I played for more hours than I am willing to admit.
Two Worlds (Alexander)
Two Worlds had me intrigued from the moment I laid eyes on it. After I had had my fill of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, I was eager for another open world role playing game that would last me a good long time. Showing a lot of promise, thanks to an expansive leveling and progression system as well as a co-operative open world mode that I felt Oblivion was sorely lacking I couldn’t wait for my new adventures to begin. However when I purchased Two Worlds, I was shocked at how unbelievably bad it was. The graphics were atrocious, dialogue was terrible and so was the voice acting, it controlled terribly and monsters could kill you in one or two attacks. Oh, and that co-operative mode I mentioned - completely broken. No one was able to join matches and if you could it was laggy beyond comprehension. I was devastated, but decided to press on, as I felt that I didn’t want to have wasted my £40.
I eventually did find what I was looking for in Two Worlds. A huge open world, with interesting places to see, an expansive level system and combat that kept you progressing through your adventure, despite the games apparent best efforts to discourage you. The combat for a warrior basically consisted of hitting the right trigger, that was it. You ran up to your opponent, hit the right trigger a few times, which would flail your sword in a circle and hopefully he would die. This might sound like Oblivion’s combat system, but at least there you could block freely and know when you were taking damage as your character would be interrupted and stumble back. Where as here he would just shout “AHHH” infrequently and your health bar would deplete. In spite of the poor combat, you were able to customize your arsenal, weapons could be combined to create more powerful versions, whilst also adding special abilities.
However the most interesting thing about Two Worlds was that it kept you guessing on what was coming next, each town was considerably different from the last. Run down slums in the middle of no where, giant fortress cities, Asian provinces. Quests would also have the possibility of changing the landscape, as the previously mentioned Asian province would be derelict of civilians and over run by orcs if you were to complete a certain quest. There was also an achievement in the Xbox 360 version of the game worth 370 gamerscore. All you had to do was complete the game. That was it. I suppose they thought people deserved a large payoff if you persevered to complete the game.
In the end Two Worlds wasn’t a great game, it wasn’t even a good game. To be quite frank I would urge everyone to stay far away from it, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t thoroughly enjoy my time playing it. As crazy as it might sound, its problems were rather endearing and charming as they added personality to what could have been a straight cut and dull role playing game. I’m looking at you Two Worlds 2.
And that has been our run of the games we hate to love, but do anyway. If you would like to see more features like this, or any other features, please leave your comments below!