cyclonus_the_warrior's Shank 2 (PlayStation Network (PS3)) review

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More shanking starring Shank the shanker.

After I finished the original Shank it was pretty much a must for me to try out the sequel. I immediately downloaded Shank 2 yet put it off for a long while out of fear that just maybe a second dose of the knife wielding, gun toting, pissed off warrior may not have been as interesting. The novelty of this style of game could have easily over stayed its welcome, and it felt that way to a degree yet it’s nothing too damaging. Shank 2 is still a 2D brawler with plat forming elements, and it does manage to slightly improve on its game mechanics but its pretty much the same game with more emphasis on the multi-player. It becomes quite clear that the main game really doesn’t have all that much to offer anymore, and if this series should continue then Klei Entertainment will need to be a bit more creative.

The story begins anew with Shank on a bus to the town he was apparently raised in. He encounters a militia that was originally formed to battle the cartels, but their leader Magnus took them in a different direction towards conquest. Shank really doesn’t seem too interested in battling them, and he only takes out a few of them simply because they made him mad. The fight soon becomes personal when someone close to Shank is kidnapped by the militia.

I will admit that the original actually had a better story involving betrayal and revenge, and I liked the connection between Shank and Cesar’s outfit. The characters were more interesting to me, and cut scenes seemed to deliver more of a quality story with its light mystery, dark humor, and even violence. This time everything feels quite vanilla and I simply wasn’t into the story at all. I just wanted to move from one place to another and that’s hardly ever good. While the boss battles are decent with at least one being slightly difficult; they feel like a big step back from the original and there is way too much of a familiar feel with each encounter. Even the final boss battle with Magnus took me only a single try, and he simply doesn’t measure up to Cesar in character or threat level. The battle with Cesar felt epic and was tough. Magnus registers more as a whimper and was far too easy. I beat him quite easily on my first try.

While Shank 2 is very weak story and character wise when compared to the original. The game play is still in your face mayhem and it is slightly improved. For one thing, the plat forming which felt so forced in Shank to the point of feeling like game length padding has been toned down a great deal. There is very little by way of cheap deaths, and honestly I can’t think of a moment where something just felt too silly and random. Every death I suffered especially in the beginning came from treating this as a button masher because it does require a level of skill.

The brawling is once again done very well with Shank dealing death with his two blades, and this time he can only select three additional weapons instead of packing his entire arsenal. I don’t like this very much since it limits the chaos to a degree and the wild carnage is what made the original such a blast to get through. Fortunately there are some good things added such as the counter move that takes very little practice to get down, as it delivers some cool deaths involving machete stabbings and eating baseball bats. Shank can also pick up additional weapons that break over time after repeated use, but this is no worry since there is plenty of stuff laying around such as bats, shovels, and meat-cleavers. There are also crushing devices and incinerator traps to use on the enemy jacking up the psycho level.

The cel-shaded visuals return with everything looking the same as before, with the death sequences maintaining that zany feel. It’s something else watching Shank shove a baseball bat in his enemies mouths and then kick the hell out of it through their face. The locals work well enough in the game’s setting but I feel there’s less to look at this time.

The main game is quite short and it can be finished around 3 – 3.5 hours; the multi-player can be played alone, co-op, or online co-op and it can be madness with non stop enemies gunning down the heroes. I won’t spoil this, and I can imagine some sticking to it for awhile.

Overall I’m glad to have played Shank 2 despite it feeling like a step back. It was fun for what it was worth and I can’t say it was ever boring. I would only recommend this to those whom really enjoyed the original because there’s definitely something here for you, especially with the dodge feature being upgraded and is far better this time. However, for those whom didn’t think too highly of the original I recommend avoiding this.

Overall: 6

The Good: Slightly improved game mechanics, Brawling aspect is still well intact, Multi-player is quite fun

The Bad: Weaker story and feels less creative than original

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