Posted 2 years ago By kingquagmire - David Collins
With the narrative-heavy retail releases that are perpetuating store shelves these days, it’s nice to get a break and play a simple, blood-soaked revenge tale. I think I was due for one of those breaks as Klei’s Shank felt like a cold glass of water on a hot day. For a game that I hardly paid any attention to until the last week or so, I walked away pleasantly surprised...
The story follows Shank, an underling who’s apart of a criminal organization headed up by Cesar. When Shank falls in love with a woman, Cesar thinks he’s choosing her over “the family”, so he has her killed and leaves Shank for dead. Thus begins our tale of blood, revenge, blood, death...and more blood.
To be honest, Shank welcomed me with mutilated arms and didn’t let go until the end credits began to roll. A pure 2D brawling platformer, the action is fast and frenzied as the anti-hero shoots and cuts his way through each level in an effort to get his hands on those responsible for the betrayal. Combat consists of a light attack, heavy attack and the guns, all of which can be strung together to take down hoards of foes ranging from the basic fist-fighter to large beast-sized men carrying grenade launchers and Gatling guns. Initially, after seeing the trailers leading up to the launch, I had my doubts about how smoothly the weapons would transition in the middle of the fight. Happily I discovered I had nothing to worry about as swapping between attacks is as smooth as butter and viscerally satisfying at the same time.
You’ll start out with a basic pair of knives (light attack), a chainsaw (heavy attack) and a set of pistols (um...guess which attack that is...). Progression through the levels will net several more tools of carnage including a pair of machetes, a katana, a pair of Uzis and even a shotgun and grenades. To spice things up a bit, Shank has a pounce attack that changes depending on which weapon he is using. The pounce was by far my favorite move of the game, although it takes a little finesse to pull it off in the middle of a mob while still minimizing how much damage you take. Throw it all together and the combat turns out to be well varied and entertaining.
While the combat was enjoyable, the real meat was in the overall presentation. From the gritty, cell-shaded art style to the old west vibe sewn into the cityscape setting, the whole thing felt like an old cowboy samurai film done grindhouse style. It was unique and fun from beginning to end. Unfortunately, it ended too soon. Even considering how much trouble I had with the end boss (yeah, his pattern took a bit for me to get a handle on), I still blew through the game on Normal difficulty in a little over 4 hours. The crutch is that once you’ve experienced the full game, there is little reason to go back to it as the platforming - which flowed wonderfully - is as linear as it can get. There’s no extras to find, no branching paths, and nothing to change the story in any way.
A local-only cooperative multiplayer mode is available, but it consists of a small prequel to the main story. These days, I’m finding it harder and harder to forgive games that feature co-op without enabling it online. Especially with games that require an Internet connection just to buy them.
I have to credit Klei for putting together a game that pretty much superseded my expectations all the way around. I saw a tagline for the game that compared it to what a game would be like had Quintin Tarantino made it. That train of thought is pretty much dead on. Violent, brutal and fast-paced action, enjoyable platforming, fun bosses (except for one, which was a repeat of another I had faced earlier in the game) and a fresh ambiance that kept my controller glued to my hand from start to finish. At the same time, the total length of the campaign - combined with the lack of any real reason to come back to it - tarnishes things a bit when trying to justify the 1200 MP ($15) price tag. As long as you can accept the ding in your wallet, Shank won’t disappoint.
+ Varied and entertaining combat
+ Solid level design with generous checkpoints
+ Bloody fun
- No compelling reason to make a second pass at the game
- Weak multiplayer component
- A bit pricey for what you get
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Release Date : 2010/08/25
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Electronic Arts
Developer : Klei Entertainment
Category : Action
ESRB : M
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