There is a point at which a typical heroes rampaging body count ceases to be a mere number and transcends to a grimmer concept. The vast swathes of enemies that you dispatch through the course of Shank 2 can be described as hilariously savage. The outrageous genocide at the hands of our hero Shank would have both Arnie and Sly Stallone running to the hills in mortified failure. It is precisely this capacity for amusing murder that will have you clutching your controls and chortling to yourself throughout Shank 2.
Shank 2 by Developer Klei is a 2D platform brawler in which you control Shank, a living breathing death machine with a propensity for alcohol and a soft spot for those close to him. The classic formula of pushing through an area to confront an end of level boss and progress the admittedly flimsy storyline is the games simple purpose. Shank 2 is extremely unapologetic about its aims to entertain you with gratuitous violence and precise controls. The lack of storyline in the context of this game seems fitting. People are in trouble: kill everyone responsible. That would be the crux of the narrative and the game does not suffer because of it. It in fact revels in its absurdity.
Within moments of the game starting the player will find themselves combo juggling hapless henchmen into the air with a multitude of murder implements. The simple set of actions that Shank can perform in combat belies the complexity of each encounter. Players can switch between quick acting shank attacks to hard hitting, slower heavy attacks as well as an assortment of ranged weapons. Utilizing these three styles of weapons is not the only tricks Shank can perform. Players can also use the scenery as well as perform situational attacks such as pouncing, throwing and counter attacking. Counter attacks must be quickly executed when exclamation marks flash above an enemy’s head in order to perform a devastating kill. The skill involved is significant and requires practise but becomes a savagely rewarding experience when mastered.
While much effort has gone into Shank offensive capabilities it must be said that his defensive qualities are impressive also. With quick flick of the right stick Shank will roll to the side evading attacks. Thankfully this action can be performed during your own attacks to give you that last second ninja-esque escape from certain doom.
The arsenal of weapons at Shank’s disposal throughout the game is impressive, including classics such as the chainsaw, machete, baseball bat, grenades, Molotov cocktail and 30lb trout. However it is usually those kills that you achieve through clever use of the areas surroundings that inspire the best laughs and most memorable moments. As every good game of this type understands bosses themselves must be memorable. Shank 2’s offerings may not feature in any greatest bosses of all-time list but they are well realised and fun to fight making great bookmarks to each area.
The visuals on offer are well crafted 2d cell shaded sprites with an almost hand drawn quality to them. There are better examples of this art style in use today however Shank 2’s slick animation and careful attention to gruesome detail will eclipse any slight misgivings you may have. The first time you see how shank utilizes a baseball bat in combination with an enemy’s esophagus and his own foot is quite the visual treat.
While Shank 2 is certainly short the campaign does have some difficulty spikes that are challenging without being maddening. Certain encounters will see the player die time and time again yet it always seems fair. You are always aware of the tools at your disposal and never feel cheated. Learning when best to use attacks and how to evade effectively will see you through most tricky moments.
Shank 2 is relatively short and while survival mode is a fun distraction it doesn’t offer more than a few hours of fun. Despite this Shank 2 is a very enjoyable game and worthy of your time and money. Bang for buck it is a great game to add to any collection.
8 thorough shank-ings out of 10
Shank 2 is available now on PSN and PC for $9.99 USD, and on Xbox LIVE Arcade for 800 Microsoft Points. More info at the official website: http://www.shankgame.com