Shank 2 Review
Having never played the first game I was curious if I would be able to offer a fair review of the game, since I have no reference point to judge if they have improved anything over the first game. Then I thought to myself, a fresh perspective may be better than whatever impression the first game would have left, good or bad. So, here we are taking a look at a bloody, gory, violent, sadistic, side scrolling brawler.
Shank 2 sees Shank, an ex-mob hitman return to action to battle those that would harm the ones that are close to him. Shank is a mean hombre who is not afraid to get his hands dirty to protect those he cares about.
You start out the game by choosing your load out, and your outfit that Shank will wear for his bloodbath. The load outs give you several options of weapons to choose from to find one that best suits your playing style. Of course he is always equipped with his shanks as a quick attack, but you can swap out a machete for a chainsaw or a sledgehammer as you progress through the game.
In addition, you are able to swap out your throwing knives for some pistols, and ultimately for a shotgun that deals massive damage to closer enemies. Finally, you can change your explosives, the game gives you the options of grenades, landmines, or molotov cocktails. Each weapon has its advantages and disadvantages. Th pistols are very fst, but do not do the damage that the throwing knives or the shotgun do. The chainsaw does big damage but is not as quick as the machete.
The gameplay is about what we have come to expect from brawlers. You have a normal attack, a strong attack, and your long range attack. You can grab enemies, or pounce on them from across the screen, by using the right trigger, or the left trigger respectively. Left bumper controls your explosives, and right bumper serves as your action button, use it to pick up extra weapons and everything else. You can get by with a little button mashing, but you can get there faster if you learn how the combo system works. Shank is equipped with attacks that can chain other attacks together, as well as attacks that can launch your enemies into the air. Knowing how this works is a critical part of racking up big combos and big points.
Another solid point to think about is the ability to counter enemy attacks. A justly timed press of the right trigger button when you see an exclamation mark over an enemies head can treat you to a visually satisfying, and equally brutal counter move. You would think there are fewer gaming satisfactions than kicking a baseball bat down some random thugs mouth, until you stab him in the back and shoot his face off through the back of his head.
Shank is a very visually appealing game, I am a big fan of the comic book look and feel of the animations and the design. It really works with the games play style to have a bit of an over the top look. The characters are all have exaggerated features, and giant bulging muscles. It’s a good look for the game.
Having said that, the game does suffer quite a bit from some lag issues, and some very bad texture problems at times. This only seemed to get worse for me as I played through the game. It seems like every time I would jump from one hanging skull to the next, the game would hiccup slightly, like it couldn’t keep up with what was happening on screen.
There were also certain points where the entire background would just disappear, and I would see Shank and the enemies on a completely black background. If I stopped moving for a bit, the screen would start to correct itself, by looking like something out of an old Odyssey 2 game called Smithereens, before eventually returning to normal. This would be an especially big problem if you were in a part of the game that you had to run. Falling off a cliff or into water would instantly kill Shank. In a game with few checkpoints and a fairly unforgiving, difficult A.I, this would cause quite a bit of frustration.
The game features 8 separate missions in the single player campaign, each with a unique boss at the end. Some sections are difficult, some are not as rough. The game does offer a challenge, even to the quickest of hands. Again, I got to reiterate, get to know Shank’s attacks, it helps to know what will knock the enemies away from you and how to avoid attacks, health packs (bottles of booze) are far between, and dying will bring you back to the start of a section without any of your points.
The game features a multiplayer mode called Survival mode. Survival mode is basically a horde mode, but it plays a bit different. It pits you and a friend against endless waves of enemies. The enemies are trying to plant a bomb on one of three weapons caches that you must protect. The maps are small, and this mode was really reminiscent of the original Mario Brothers game. Remember the one with the pow block in the middle? Yeah, it’s like that with guns and shit! It was a lot of fun, and didn’t suffer from the same lagging and texture problems that I found in the campaign.
Klei Entertainment is fully aware of the lag issues and they tell GotGame that they are currently working on solving the issue. In the meantime, the developer has a temporary workaround for those who experience the problem – http://www.shankgame.com/xbox-360-streaming.