Shank 2 – Review

Published By: Electronic Arts, Developer: Klei Entertainment, Genre: Action, Release Date: Feb 8, 2012, Rating: M, Systems: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360.

Presentation: Shank 2 is a 2D beat’em up arcade downloadable game. It pays homage of sorts to movies I grew up watching during the 80′s like Commando, Rambo and Missing in Action. Shank 2 is a bro-man game starring the duel wielding shank man, Shank! I was able to play through Shank 2 for free (its free for Playstation Plus members at the moment). When analyzing Shank 2′s presentation there is more bad than good clearly. I’ll discus everything during this review so keep reading. I’ll start with the menus on the title screen which includes: Campaign Mode, Survival Mode, Rebel Intel, Leaderboard, Player Stats and Help & Options. No problem navigating in Shank 2, everything is laid out in a nice ergonomic fashion.

Next we have the controls. Dual Shock 3: LS-move, RS-roll, Square-guns, X-jump, O-guns, Triangle-heavy attack, R1-pick up/drop, R2-grab, L1-grenades, L2-pounce and D-pad-move/aim. To be blunt, the controls are horrible in this game seriously. First off way too many buttons and actions for a 2D beat’em up brawler. Second, why do I need all of those buttons that feel positioned weird for actions they carry out when I can just use pounce 90% of the game? Makes no sense. Granted there are some enemies that using pounce won’t work. I cannot write how many times during this game where I would pounce when I hit the roll command.

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There was a turret section near the end of the game where I kept pouncing off the turret. I started thinking is my controller is messed up?  That isn’t the worst either case of bad controls in Shank 2. When climbing up ladders I kept throwing grenades wasting them. Considering grenades help during the cheap gameplay moments of Shank 2 I wasn’t happy about that. Speaking of cheap yes this game has some cheap enemies, bosses and gameplay sections where the game just throws waves of cheap enemies at you. I’ll discus the latter in detail in the gameplay section of this review. Not all is bad with Shank 2′s presentation, the visuals are beautiful along with the animations. And Survival Mode is clearly the best thing this game has going for it.

Story: Robert “Shank” Torres is the protagonist and ex mob hitman. Shank 2 is a story about redemption regarding Shank. He takes down a corrupted President Magnus while rescuing Elena (his mother figure). Working along side with Resistance leader Corina Shank takes down the corrupt Cartel. As far as the overall story goes it was cheesy and cliche. It was never interesting because it seems like every villain and badguy in the game was copied from either a movie I seen or a video game I have played. It was suppose to be funny however the bad gameplay and controls kept me from laughing during my entire playthrough.

Visuals: Visually Shank 2 gets a high score. The artstyle and animations just exude a visceral and compelling atmosphere. Shank rampages through South American villiges, resorts, ruined temples and swamps. The textures and colors pop out of the screen and every setting was rendered wonderfully. The animations makes Shank appear like a real badass reminding me of heroes like Rambo.

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Sound: Music featured broman hero tunes that were catchy. The writing and voice acting I didn’t care for. The sound design was decent enough but some of the grunts sounds after I killed them got annoying.

Gameplay: Shank 2 is a 2D beat’em up that features gunplay, grenade lobbing, pouncing and grabbing enemies. There are different types of weapons that work differently in effectiveness regarding certain enemies. You have Heavy Weapons like the Chainsaw, Machete and Sledgehammer. Ranged Weapons include Throwing Knives, Pistols and a Shotgun. Munitions include Grenades, Molotovs and Mines. The latter is part of the problem. The game’s controls and structure makes it near too impossible to use all weapons and items on the different enemies effectively at any given moment. The gameplay became cluttered up and by the time I tried to throw my grenade or use my heavy weapon to break a grunt’s shield I was dead.

The latter mostly happened when the game throws a ridiculous amount of  enemies at you on-screen at once. Gameplay is mashed up with very light platforming sequences and turret sequences. There is one level you get to play as Corina which was enjoyable. Corina comes outfitted with different weapons than Shank. You can change weapon loadouts during anytime in-game. Light exploring on the map nets you secret rooms filled with Rebel Intel, Munitions and Liquor. Liquor is used to heal Shank and Corina.  Many sections of the game requires you to flip switches which opens up a killing machine you can trick enemies into falling in. The boss-fights were decent. You get to fight the Doctor, Magnus, Cyclops, Obeng and Roselle.

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Replayability: The single player campaign was ridiculously short to say the least. But lucky for me was the fact that this game has multiplayer (online and off). Its called Survival Mode and is clearly the best thing Shank 2 has going for it. The menu screen for Survival Mode featured: Local Match, Online Match, Invite A Friend, View Invitations and How to Survive. The last option shows a voiced video tutorial for Survival Mode. Survival Mode is a wave type game ala Horde mode via Gears of war 3. Shank 2 is 2D so things are different obviously. Your goal along with another player is to defend supply stations around the map. Bombers are grunts that target your supply stations and blows them up.

As you defend the supply stations you will earn money which you can use to buy turrets, boars, miniguns and dummies to help fight against the increasingly stronger waves. If your teammate falls victim you can revive them. You can also buy liquor to heal yourself which I forgot to mention. There was a big contraption in the center of the room to drop badguys into a spike bed by hitting a switch lever. Enemies range from grunts of all types. Some have guns, some threw grenades. Some are huge boss type enemies. The best part is when you get to face a entire wave filled with the undead. Call it a zombie wave if ya want, very fun. I had the most fun with Survival Mode during my Shank 2 experience.

Final Verdict: I rarely tell gamers to buy a game based on multiplayer. For Shank 2 I have no choice since the single player campaign was ridiculously short and problematic from a gameplay and control perspective.



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