Shank 2 Review

By Brian Arnold on February 13, 2012

Ultra-violence, hacking, slashing and the burning of bodies isn't something new to Klei Entertiainment. They're back with Shank 2, with a vengeance I might add. Like its predecessor, Shank 2 is a side scrolling, ultra-violent, beat-em-up adventure with a copious helping of platforming thrown in. The story follows the character Shank, an ex-mob hit man. Shank is forced out of retirement because of a rogue general who has taken over the drug cartel and is terrorizing the rebellion. Shank doesn't care until a close friend is kidnapped. He sets out on a bloody adventure to get her back.

Even though a story is present, it serves merely as a weak backdrop to support the real focus of the game: the fighting. Shank prime was hailed for its fun gameplay and brutal violence. By wielding an arsenal of weapons including a machete, chainsaw, sledge hammer, throwing knives, pistols, shotgun, and of course the Shank itself, players will spend the entirety of the game quite literally, ripping enemies a new one. Add in the clever level weapons like the turret gun, fire pits, and circular saw trap doors, and you'll find that there is a metric ton of ways to kill your enemies.

It's worth noting that Shank 2 is not an easy game to start playing. The difficulty curve that you'll have to overcome can be quite infuriating at times, especially with some of the bosses. You'll quickly find that mindless button mashing will only serve to get you killed over and over again. Proper use of all the weapons while dodging constantly is vital to any kind of success. Even then, expect to die a fair number of times.

At first glance, you might be inclined to believe that Shank 2 is just a copy/paste of the original. This is true to a certain degree. Shank 2 doesn't do anything new, nor does it try to break any grounds in terms of innovation. What it does is improve on the original's already addicting mechanics. I wouldn't go as far to say that this instalment is a true sequel but rather Shank 1.5. Klei carried over the elements that made the first game great and fixed the problems that plagued it. The gameplay is exceptionally well polished.

In addition to the constant beat 'em up gameplay, you'll spend a fair amount of time platforming your way through levels. After getting the hang of the physics, it's not too bad to get through. This is one aspect of the gameplay that has been vastly improved since its predecessor. By exploring the levels fully, you'll find different secret files about characters, locations, weapons, etc. It's nothing crucial to the story, but it's a nice addition to the game's longevity, and certainly a fun aside for the treasure hunters our there.

In addition to the single player campaign, Klei has given us a co-op survival mode. In the original game, co-op was only local but this time around, they've given us the option to play online. The survival mode is played with two people who are tasked with defeating waves of enemies while also protecting supply crates that can be blown up. The action is fast paced and can quickly become frantic but it still remains fun, especially if you're playing a friend.

The presentation of the game is great. The art style has a great graphic novel feel to it. The fighting animations are smooth and well executed. The cut scenes aren't quite as exciting, and this is compounded by the poor story that takes a back seat to everything else in the game. The music is fun with a mixture of rock and orchestral, but it all had a very Hispanic, Robert Rodriguez film, quality to it. The voice acting is deliberately cheesy and over the top, making the experience feel like a Stathom (or Stalone if you're old-school) action flick.

Shank 2 is a short game. Single player will last you around 3-4 hours and can be completed in one sitting. Co-op can have you playing for much longer, especially now that it's available for online play. Players who want to beat the game on Hard mode as well as get all of the achievements and in-game medals can expect to spend many hours grinding.

Final Thoughts

Overall, is Shank 2 worth it? The gameplay is great, the art style is fun, the execution is fantastic, and the brutality is not lacking. If you're looking for a story, however, it's worth farts. Klei spent a great deal of time to improve on their original game and it shows.The campaign is very short, but the co-op mode adds more than you think to augment the experience. The steep difficulty curve may anger some people, but if you can push past it and resist the urge to fling your controller through your television, or headdesk your keyboard, you might just find that Shank 2 is fun and very challenging game to play.

Polished, addicting gameplay with plenty of improvements upon the first game.
Addition of online co-op is very welcome.
Expanded level designs create a well balanced experience between fighting and platforming.
Story is not worth paying attention to.
Klei stayed safe with this one, nothing new or groundbreaking.
Extremely steep difficulty curve may present a stumbling block for some, welcome challenge for others.
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