Platform – PC/XBLA/PSN
Developer – Klei Entertainment
Publisher – EA
Shank is a newly released 2D Action Side-Scroller for PC, XBLA, and PSN that has a price of $15 on PSN, or 1200 Microsoft Points for XBLA. You play as the main Hero by the name of Shank, who’s seeking revenge against the people who have killed his girlfriend 7 years ago. Shank has very high quality production value, everything from the blood-pumping combat, fantastic 2D Art Style, and perfectly smooth animations.
Let’s talk about the combat first, this is most important and fun part of the game. You carry guns, daggers, and melee weapons, you can use them in any order during the combat. For example, your Y/Triangle button is mapped to your melee weapons which consist of a chainsaw, dual machetes, chains, and katana, but you only start with a chainsaw, you will get the others on your way. Your B/O button is mapped to your Guns, you start with Dual Pistols, and get a Shotgun, and an Uzi later on., and your X button is to your daggers, which always stay same from beginning to the end.
The combat is very graphic, a lot of blood splatter, and gore, especially with the chainsaw and dual machetes. You can pull of combos with a mixture of your daggers, and guns for a very violent death that will satisfy tle those who are looking for a M-Rated arcade game. You can even grab to your enemies and pull of unique attacking moves while your holding them, each weapon has a unique animation, and it was very fun to try them all and see the different results. It’s also possible to put a grenade in the victim’s mouth and watch them blow up, very brutal stuff.
Shank can also pounce his enemies from a medium distance and pin them to the ground and use his weapons to finish them off. You can also shoot other enemies on the screen while the victim is on the floor. Overall the combat is great, it’s well executed and it’s the most fun part of the game, thanks to the beautiful art style, and very fluid animations. If you’re looking for a good 2D Side-Scrolling violent combat game, Shank is going to be your best man to bet on.
For the most part you fight humans, dogs, and of course bosses while going through the story mode. Some enemies carry guns, knives, cleavers, but most of them are the same. As you progress through the story mode you will see the same enemies just with new skins instead. Shank also faces big bulky guys which cannot be grabbed or pinned down, and they have to be killed simply by dodging their attacks, and using your melee attacks with the combination of your guns. The bigger enemies also drop health bottles if your low on health, you can also come across breakable crates that contain more health items.
Eventually as you progress through the game you will face different bosses, there are a total of 6 bosses in the game with a couple of mini bosses in between chapters. Before and after each boss fight, your shown a story cut-scene in a nice flashy art style. Each boss requires a certain strategy to beat him, while it’s possible to wear down the boss’s health all way down by normal attacks, it would take much longer and be more difficult for you to pull off. Once you have figured out how to properly beat the boss and open up his weak spot, you press your RT button to execute the attack, and keep on repeating the same thing until he/she dies. The bosses are pretty plain, but they’re fun to fight.
Now let’s talk about the gameplay and the game modes you can play. There are 2 gameplay modes, Single-player which you play through the main story campaign of Shank, on either Normal or Hard difficulty level. I first played on hard difficulty for achievement purposes, and it took me 10 hours to beat the game. There was also an achievement for Normal mode, but the difficulties did not stack, so I had to play it again on Normal mode which only took me 1 Hour and 30 Minutes to beat. Which is really unfortunate because this game has so much more potential, but the game’s length cuts it short.
You can also play the Co-op mode, in this mode you play with a friend through a background story of Shank rather than the main campaign. So this actually adds quite a bit of fun for you and your co-op buddy. The co-op mode is a little shorter than the single player and its lot easier. You cannot play Hard mode on the co-op unfortunately, it’s set to its default Normal mode. My biggest gripe with co-op is that it is not online, it’s an offline co-op with 2 controllers on 1 screen. At least it doesn’t require you to play in split screen, everything stays on 1 screen, and you won’t be able to move forward until your buddy is next to you.
You can unlock gamer pictures, and achievements for your Xbox 360, while the PS3 on version only has the trophies. The game contains the traditional 12 Achievements for Xbox 360 and 12 Trophies. For those who love to hunt down your trophies/achievements this is an enjoyable game to play-through and it’s possible to get 100% within 2 days if you are dedicated. The hardest achievement for me was the Hard mode single-player, make sure you have some patience, time, and dedication if you want to do this one. There are no checkpoints during the levels until you reach the boss on hard mode, and the enemies are tougher and much more aggressive, especially the boss fights.
Overall, Shank’s fantastic art style, brutal combat, and great animations can really keep the player entertained. However, it can get repetitive sometimes, as you go pretty much through the same thing over and over again in every level. The game’s short length can also drive away some of the audiences from spending their precious $15 or 1200 Microsoft Points, especially with the lack of online co-op.. Shank is a good game, but it could have been so much more, hopefully the developer will make a sequel and improve on what the original one is lacking.