REVIEW: Shank

An outstanding, completely 2D animated, downloadable title rips a new one on the PS3 and 360. Hit the jump to check out Shank

Gameplay

A wide variety of moves, weapons and combos makes this title a satisfying beat-em-up. Level design can feel a little repetitive though.

Audio

Buckets of profanity and a Latin sounding musical score makes you think you are watching a movie staring Danny Trejo

Art and Animation

Outstanding 2D, flash-esque character design and animations which, mind you, are all hand drawn with just a little bit of “tweening”.

Playing Shank is like playing a hybrid of Devil May Cry and Double Dragon. You are armed with three categories of weapons; changeable melee weapons, changeable projectile weapons and Shank's unchangeable knives. Players can string together combos linking attacks from all three weapons into one long combo. Moves like grab and pounce add a little bit of throwing to the mix. As you progress through the game you receive new melee and projectile weapons which all have different strengths and effects. Enemies come at you in all different shapes and sizes and sometimes it can be a real pain in the butt to dispatch what the game throws at you, and that's just on normal; Hard mode makes the enemies stronger, faster and makes you start from the beginning of the level if you die; no checkpoints!

The story plays out much like a Quentin Tarantino movie. Vengeance, betrayal, action, all that good stuff and the pacing is spot on. Beautiful cinematics between levels play out the story and various moments in gameplay are gorgeous. Check out the pic below where you fight off baddies against a sunset with only silhouettes of Shank and his enemies visible. Classic. The levels, although gorgeous, can sometimes go on and on making you ask things like “does this level really need to be this long?”. Adding co-op to Shank is a massive plus. In fact, it's not just the same game with an extra player. There are separate levels specifically for the co-op multiplayer mode. As you play the game through any mode you will begin to unlock in-game achievements which unlock bonuses like alternate costumes for Shank.

As far as gameplay goes, Shank is a heck of a lot of fun due to it's robust combo system where you can pull off ground air and throw combinations which just make you scream out “Heck yeah!” On the story side of things, Shank plays out like a very well made animated film. Kind of like something you would see on Adult Swim. I got three big problems with Shank. First, the price tag; $15 seems a little steep for what you get. Splosion Man was only $10 and, granted, this is a totally different game, but like with any action / adventure game, you'll blow through Shank in just a couple hours leaving you wanting more for your money. Second, no PC version. Shank is still listed as a title for Xbox LIVE Arcade, PSN and PC but, so far, we haven't heard any news or been given a release date for a PC version yet. It's not even listed on Steam as “coming soon” or anything. Lastly, the multiplayer is local only, not online. Sure, it's awesome to have a friend sitting next to you playing through a game like this but not having both local and online is a crime in this day and age, especially when you consider the price tag. Regardless, if you're like me and you love an old-school beat-em-up, then Shank's gameplay will really take you back. Worth the money if you are into this kind of genre and if you have a friend who can stop by to play it with you. Shank is definitely not for kids. If you love beat-em-ups then you'll fall in love with this the same way I did.