[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”” developers=”KLEI” publishers=”EA” platforms=”” genres=”” release_date=”February 8, 2012″]
It is not too often that a company gets a second chance with a video game title nowadays. Luckily EA Games let Klei Entertainment have another attempt to refine last years downloadable Mexican revenge story slash 2D side scrolling beat maim em up Shank. That is not to say that Shank wasn’t well receipted, but critically it received very mixed responses. It seems Klei went back to the drawing board after almost nailing it with Shank and pulled out the good and tried to make the rest better. Is Shank 2 like a nice piece of refined golden gaming goodness or has Klei Entertainment left us with yet another title that would be great if justwas better?
The first Shank had a Grindhouse like story of revenge along the lines of the movie Desperado. The game very much felt like it was written by Robert Rodriguez himself. Shank got his revenge and Shank 2 picks up with Shank very introverted and not caring about the world around him. Of course that doesn’t stop him from murdering everyone in sight just on his instinct of survival. Shank ends up getting co-opted into a revolution he doesn’t want a part of and blah blah blah. The story isn’t that important and it doesn’t appear much effort was put into it. It is just enough and sometimes not enough to give Shank reason to stab, chainsaw, and shotgun his way through thousands.
The gameplay of Shank 2 is near the same as it was in Shank. It’s in a 2D environment that feels like a cross between Double Dragon and God Of War. Enemies come at you and you kill them with knifes (light attack), heavy weapons like chainsaws (heavy attack), and ranged weapons like pistols (range attack). Dodge, counter, grapple, pounce and explosives are also available in the move set. Unlike the first game, Shank can now pick up weapons that enemies drop. It offers a nice change of pace to pick up baseball bats, lead pipes, & butcher knifes and shove them down the throat of the next nameless bad guy that dares to come your way. Real effort was put into changing the flow of combat that was in the first game. Shank 2 definitely feels like you could chain and combo attacks together as long as enemies stayed alive compared to the 2-3 hit combos of more traditional beat em ups.
In addition to eight levels of side scrolling hacking action, Klei has added a co-op survival mode. The mode only contains 3 levels which are single screen multi floor environments. The objective of the mode is to keep a couple piles of crates from being blown up by bombers. Along with the attack from bombers, players must survive regular enemies, bosses, and even zombies. While interesting, the lack of content seems to indicate this mode was just tacked on for a bullet point on a list rather than serving a purpose.
Shank 2’s violence combines with the Venture Brother-esque graphics to create a beautiful yet bloody style. Shank as he leaps looks almost like a rag doll over the cartoony backgrounds. The animation flows right along with the controls really bringing the game together as a stylized visceral action title. The voice acting is lackluster. It is as if they told the actors to channel stereotypical lazy Mexican number 2 prior to reading their lines. Speedy Gonzales sound a-likes aside, there should have been more fiery Latino performances. The background music is what you would expect for the Mexican settings. It is a shame though that such a beautiful game is paired with lackluster audio.
The great thing about Shank 2 is that it is like playing playing an action movie. So many of it’s elements feel like they come out of a Grindhouse flick. If you are looking for a vast improvement over Shank, Shank 2 is not it. But Klei did take the good, refine it, and gave us a pretty sweet nugget of gaming goodness.