Shank 2 Review
When we first met Shank, Klei Entertainment’s devastatingly powerful mercenary, he carved up bad guys left and right in a superb downloadable game for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. However, the adventure left us a bit unfulfilled, with little to do once we cut the final boss to ribbons. Luckily, the developers were listening, and Shank 2 delivers not only a stronger amount of carnage, but a new mode where a friend can jump in to dish out the bloody carnage alongside you.
While the story is flimsy at best, it sets the stage for the return of Shank as he sets out to right the wrongs in a small village, rescuing rebels and dismantling his enemies in a number of creative ways. He’s like a walking arsenal, able to carry twin pistols, grenades, a machete, a chainsaw, and other goods. You can alter the loadout during each stage, should something work better to your liking (machete beheadings for the win) and new goodies join your stockpile once you meet certain goals.
What’s excellent about Shank is how well you mix these techniques into combos. You can start slicing someone up with shanks, then send them into the air with a machete strike, jump up and slam them to the ground, stab at them a few more times, pull out your pistol and shoot at someone from the distance, and then take a chainsaw and ram it in their gullet — and that’s just one kill. The game doesn’t hold back on its carnage, nor should it, as it’s all quite satisfying. You also have defensive techniques, such as being able to roll out of an enemy’s way, or countering an incoming attack with your own.
On the downside, the main game is still as tough as nails. On the first stage alone, we ran into an infuriating situation where we kept getting killed by fat guys charging at us, either by continuously running us over or accidentally making us fall into a nearby pit of chainsaw blades. (What, does Jigsaw run this place?!) You can try your luck on “Normal” difficulty first before tackling the even harder one. As you progress through Shank 2’s story mode, you’ll earn a score in each stage, which serves a leaderboard purpose. You can compare your best rounds with others and see how you can get better with your kills — not bad.
If you really want to get involved with other players, jump into the new Survival Mode. Here, you’ll be able to work with a friend through 30 pre-set stages, stopping bomb armers and taking on everyone from gunsmiths to Molotov tossers to big thugs. It’s cool being able to work together, and the online play clicks very well — and it’s supported locally as well. Some of the characters you can unlock over the course of this mode are excellent too, especially the Hobo. You know, the one inspired by Hobo With a Shotgun? Go see it.
If Robert Rodriguez ever got into game development, it’d probably look a hell of a lot like Shank 2 does. The game oozes of grindhouse essence, with its fantastic visuals and settings and great, cheesy dialogue. The musical score is sweet too, with plenty of deep guitar that sets you in the mood for vengeance. Some of the cinemas aren’t that hot (that’s mostly due to the story), but the game as a whole shines just as well as the first did. Oh, and it’s bloody. We said that, right?
If you liked the first game at all or just want a great side-scrolling actioner that lets you spill buckets of blood without going ridiculously over the top (like Splatterhouse), Shank 2 is a game you should definitely have in your arsenal. Despite the somewhat unfair difficulty, it’s loaded with techniques and blood-spilling fun, especially once you bring a friend. Have him or her play as the Hobo. Trust me.
[Reviewed on PlayStation 3]