Shanking these guys ain't your only choice.
I fell in love with Shank the second I saw someone playing it during one of their youtube reviews. It seemed to be everything I liked all rolled into one package: highly action driven, over the top, and in 2D. Of course there’s more but those were the elements to rope me in. After playing the game and finishing it on normal difficulty in just a little over 3 hours; I can say that my crave was satisfied and Shank is definitely something that most gamers should give a look to.
Shank follows the character of the same name as he walks into a bar demanding information. From here a brawl breaks out and he gets all of his weapons right there, and then proceeds to go after a gang that whipped his ass and killed his girl under the orders of a man named Cesar. Let the bloody carnage begin.
Shank is all in your face on what it wants to be and it really doesn’t disappoint. The blood soaking encounters delivers the goods as Shank dispatches his enemies with dual pistols, chainsaw, grenades, and his two knives. Along the way he can pick up more weapons that can be swapped at any time consisting of a shotgun, uzi’s, katana, and even a fist wrapped chain. Plus pick up heavy artillery like a mini gun and just rip through bastards with no mercy; but the game isn’t all about what Shank can use instead it’s about how he uses these things. He can grapple enemies and maul them, or leap and tackle drilling the chainsaw right though them while they scream, plus choke their asses to death with the chain. On top of it all, he can pull off some nice combos to eat up enemies life bars across the various weapons. Some of the non fans mention that this game is quite barebones but I don’t see it that way when compared to many 2D action-platformers.
The game also forces the player to get good because there is a reasonable amount of skill to be developed, and the boss battles definitely help with that. I liked all of these encounters and none of the bosses felt cheap or too OP; many of them simply required a strategy and patience to seriously injure them adding more to its game play. Now I will admit that although the plat-forming segments worked well into the stage designs, they were nothing more than add-ons that will lead to unnecessary deaths that may grow frustrating along with some cheap enemy placement. Still, these didn’t make the game all that more diffiuclt and believe me Shank does have some hard moments. Controlling Shank and unleashing hell with his arsenal is set up easy enough, and although I have seen complaints on the block and evade feature of the game; I can’t say that set-up bothered me. It was something I got down rather easily and holding the L1 to block, and being able to dodge left and right while blocking seemed to work at times the way I wanted it to.
The cartoony visuals reminds me of Metal Slug on how it delivers the violence in a not so offensive way keeping a fun vibe through out. Shank looks seriously psychotic when pouncing on enemies or unleashing that chainsaw in their backs. There’s a lot of blood splattering and the violence is cool, but it definitely could have been done better. I hope the sequel cuts loose a lot more. The backgrounds have many nice settings from dance clubs to church halls that carries the action and story well enough.
Along with its ailments concerning plat-forming, the repetitive vibe definitely plays an issue as Shank will run the same ramps and swing from the same poles over and over, to the point where these sections feel completely forced. The Ninja Gaiden like plat-forming feels kind of out place with Shank because the action and story are in heavy display. It would have benefitted from some sort of exploration though. I guess the short length is an added bonus because although Shank isn’t a bland game, it didn’t have enough content to carry it towards a longer run time.
The hard mode offers a certain amount of replay as checkpoints are removed and enemies are more aggressive. I recommend this for the trophy chasers, because that setting will give you more of that grueling challenge. Overall, I like this game very much and I’m looking forward to trying out the sequel once I get some other titles out of the way. It’s usually difficult for me to play through a series one after the other. In any case, I highly recommend this to those searching for some gritty 2D action plat-forming. Shank will indeed leave you at least moderately satisfied.
The Good: Loads of action, nice boss battles, and cool weapons
The Bad: Plat-forming does feel forced, difficulty may bother some