Fukubukuro 2010 #5 DOG DAYS

Author’s Note: Every year internet games journalism outcast Tim Rogers released a Fukubukuro of articles about his year with video games.  Eventually he stopped writing them.  I enjoyed them a lot.  If there wasn’t going to be one from him, I had to craft my own.

I love stories about heroes trying to escape hell.  Reading an essay about After Hours (an oft-forgotten Scorsese) brought this to front.  While opposite in tone, trying to escape Hades is the core story of both that movie and


If you played the demo, and didn’t instantly love it, I can’t help you.   10 seconds into the demo and I was frothing for it.  By the end of the demo, I wanted to drink deep from Dog Days’s (YES that’s the one part of this whole thing I’m sure is grammatically correct.) cup.  I needed Dog Days bad.  Then I heard it was 5 hours long, and man no.  Action movies on blu-ray are 19.99 USD.  I ended up waiting a month until Gamefly put the game directly into my mailbox.

please sponsor us cokeI co-opped the game at the house of the man I co-op games with.   I was equipped with a energy drink that tasted like Crystal Light Lemonade and 30% sugar.  He had a pepsi max.  I also had a little, then regretted that this year I had given up zero calorie beverages.  The situation called for it, even though I vastly prefer Coke Zero to regular or diet.

We blasted through that game in seven hours. We laughed like hyenas at the naked level.  The sucker-punch ending made me step back and go, “That was pretty good.”  My friend might have liked the game less than I did, but was being polite.  I couldn’t pry a verdict out of him.  The game fully satisfied me from beginning to end.

I again lamented it’s 60 dollar price point.  Games can’t continue doing this.   Back-Mops breaking all sorts of records doesn’t mean anything when it takes 2 less people to generate the same level of profit from one sale.  I briefly considered, years ago, with the success of Katamari Damacy that maybe, games would get universally cheaper.  This generation ended up being more expensive all around.

2 months later, 3 months after it’s release, Dog Days was all of 19.99 at Best Buy.  I bought it and immediately played through the game again offline.   Then I tried online, which was already something of a ghost town.  Any complaints I can level at the game are in the multiplayer.  The online stages are not nearly as gloriously genius as the single player levels.  I can’t mute the jackasses that made me sit out the 5 minute match I waited 10 minutes to play because he held me up then threw me to the ground and shot me before I even got the QTE prompt to get out of the hold up.  I did find a few people to run through the single player with, and everything is glistening level design.

If you didn’t like the demo, I can’t help you.  The demo starts with a fantastic escape from a restaurant out the back way, and might be the only time the level doesn’t make sense in reality because I can’t remember where the actual restaurant entrance is.  You also hop over the same broken wall a few times.  But when it is time to MURDER CHINA, the level design is perfect.  If you played this alone, maybe this is why you didn’t find it genius.

There is always two paths, the straight path for Lynch, the side path for Kane (the side path for Lynch, the straight path for Kane).  The man taking the straight path is there only as distraction to the private body guards for the mafia elite and to not get killed.  When the side path gets a clear shot at the white suit cleanup team, they have to kill as many of the Chinese military as possible before they realize he’s there.  The low-level gangsters will then focus on Kane, giving straight path Lynch a shot at headshotting the police officers just trying to kill two unstoppable men.

Our demo level has K and Mister L escape onto a street.  On the left side is a video store.  On the right is a building under construction and a catwalk.  On the street you have convenient cars.  One man should obviously be fighting through the video store, the other is his cover fire.  Cars sometimes blow up, and the catwalk’s cover will get blown to bits.  Our video store hero’s cover is good for the most part.  Most of your opposition is flooding out of a restaurant down on the left side, which has a lot of propane tanks around it.

A later escape has you in an area with three warehouses and a dozen different ways to approach the problem of murdering everyone and getting out of China.  Every failure feels like you did something stupid.  Getting away with something stupid is a sigh of relief for you and your partner.  After a dozen times of playing through the game I’m still getting surprised by myself of my co-hort’s discovery at another way escaping everything we deserve.

There was no reason this game was going to be a success at 60 dollars.  It’s too much of a decision.  Hell if I could recommend it to anyone for that price.  This game might have set the world on fire at being released at 19.99.  I0 Interactive might still have been a development studio.  This game features at least 3 scenes I had been waiting for in an action movie.

Friends on Steam ended up getting the game for 5 dollars when it was 5 dollars on Steam.  I was happy at everyone on my list that suddenly had that game in their possession.  Either way, this friend complained that their were no civilians in the game, even though the opening movie somewhat promised there would be.  I didn’t have a response to that; it somewhat bothered me in my response playthrough.  The satisfaction in killing all of armed-China came back, and I got over it.

His other complaint was all the enemies had the same AI if they were military personnel or thugs jumping off moving motorcycles.  I didn’t notice this either, maybe because what you were fighting was just another bit of windowdressing.  Through their own actions, Kane and Lynch end up having the entire city of Shanghai hating them.  The game gives us just enough showing that we don’t need any telling about them.

Dog Days is fantastic, brief and features a shootout at a McDonald’s.  I’ve been waiting for that for years.  It has the most glorious idle menu screens.  The 15 seconds of running across an empty lot and an helicopter flies over is worth more to anyone than the entirety of Brak Fops and most action films.  The guns are stupendously loud!  Every time I play the game I have to remark, “Holy lord, I’m kind of killing a LOT of people.”

In short: My good friend Chris Pinner can forgive Dog Days because the bodiless camera is just following Kane and Lynch, and you’re not the camera.  He has a thing for FPS games not showing the body you see.  I hope he loves Breakdown (Japan does Half-Life and Halo is Xen).


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