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The visual style of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is one of the things that have been talked about the most until now and rightly so. It’s clearly one of the most different approaches to game visualization we’ve been involved in at IO Interactive.
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To help everyone understand what thoughts have been involved in the creation of the style and what the idea behind it is, we’ve asked Rasmus Poulsen, Art Director of KL2, to try to explain it to us. One of the key tenants of the visual design of Kane & Lynch has been to live up to the mantra of ‘down-to-earth’. We decided early on to move away from glitter and glam of a shiny, high-tech, high-bloom world to try something different with Dog Days. The ambition was to get the game visuals to a level of gritty realism you just don’t see anywhere in videogames today. Creating a massive, glowing, bright universe of huge explosions and insanely ornate scenery would be fun and beautiful but would also go against what we wanted to achieve with the game, which is to make it seem like you’re truly situated in an existing world and that you’re a part of something living. Kane & Lynch are, for the most part, everyday antiheroes and we wanted the world of Dog Days to reflect that.

The challenge has been trying to find a level of realism, which isn’t only photo-realistic but which somehow situates the player in the environment and then try to push the limits for what we could achieve, technically and artistically. We’re trying to achieve this by not only focusing on getting all the right and quirky details in there but, just as important, we’ve tried to make the particular brand of ‘realism’ in the gameplay as pervasive as possible in the visual design as well.

So, rather than focusing on using bump maps and spec maps in the normal way, we’re trying to create more ‘raw’ or ‘uncut’ representations of a perceived reality through the use of advanced filter effects – adding streaks of light, dust specks on the lens, film grain in low light and blowout in harsh light for the visual experience and similar elements for the sound experience. For instance, we’re still using lots of glow effects but we’re using them sparingly and in specific areas to make sure the impact is 100% when you encounter them in a scene - and this goes for most of the special effects stuff in the game.

Going from a dark, rain-filled and grainy back alley to the buzzing streets of the tech market filled with glowing neon and blaring radios is a good example of the contrast players should expect while playing the game. The contrast between new, high-tech and plain old low-tech will also be quite massive and is a real reference from the trip our creative team took to Shanghai for inspiration. It’s that feeling – analog meets digital, cheap plastic meets fake furs and gold and diamonds – that we’re working on getting across.

If you feel like checking out what the game will look like yourself, the first gameplay trailer is out now and can be seen right here  on the site. If you feel like commenting on this post, please visit our forums.

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There should be a pretty awesome game!

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