Game Rant's Trung Bui reviews Shank 2
Sometimes, the old ways are the best ways. In their heyday, 2D side scrolling beat 'em ups could cast hours upon hours of fun for gamers and they have ended up making their return in adaptations of classic games like TMNT or with more contemporary titles, like Shank 2, the sequel to Klei Entertainment's 2010 release.
Does Shank 2 live up to its fan-favorite predecessor's credit?
The artwork in Shank 2 really does stand out among other games featured on Xbox LIVE Arcade or PlayStation Network. Each level starts and ends with a cutscene that is beautifully rendered in a 2D cartoon art. Kudos to Klei Entertainment's art team for creating beautiful cinematics and character design. The artwork truly does give Shank 2 a much more unique feeling that won't be found elsewhere.
Shank 2's artwork really shines when it comes to the combat in the game. Players will have no trouble finding great joy in dismembering every foe's feeble attempt to stop Shank's quest in...stopping an evil militia from taking over a nondescript South American country? The story isn't something that's going to be very memorable, but that's okay, there's just enough to keep that player motivated to hack, slash, chainsaw, shoot, and explode the hordes of enemies that are encountered throughout the game's campaign - giving players more than a few hours of gameplay.
When the campaign is done, players can return and attempt to beat the game on the harder difficulty or take a crack at the Survival mode. Survival mode puts a player (or 2 players) on a single map where they are charged with defending three spots from enemy attempts at sabotage. When each round finishes, items may be purchased to increase chances of survival. It's a fun and well put together addition to the game that will help to extend game life and value.
For those who played the original Shank, there will be some minor differences between that game and the sequel. Enemies no longer have a life bar above their heads (save for the bosses), blocking has been replaced with a more agile roll, and gunplay is a bit more fluid. Shank 2 also includes a countering system that allows insta-killing enemies after weakening them to a point. Counters are incredibly rewarding and vary on the weapon type being wielded by the enemy: machete wielding enemies will have their arms cut off, baseball bat wielding enemies get those bats shoved into their throat and kicked...violently. It's enough to make the inner sadist giggle with glee.
Weakening those enemies down to that insta-kill point is the heart of the game. Combat is incredibly easy to pick up and highly varied through attempted combos. Players can slash an enemy a few times, launch him in the air, unload a clip, and end with a pounce attack. Enemies felled with style grant the player points that are tracked on Xbox LIVE or PlayStation Network leaderboards. Experimentation in attacks is half the fun in Shank 2 and there's very little to lose in finding new ways to dispatch enemies.
That said, Shank 2 is challenging. It's not "hard" per say, but there are portions in the game where, if you're not paying attention or get too careless, you'll end up seeing the loading screen a few too many times. It's a good balance, just enough to keep the player invested in conquering a level, rather than throw the controller down in pure frustration.
If you were a fan of the original Shank or are wanting to have some good ol' fashioned beat 'em up action in the game library, Shank 2 is a worthwhile title to play and it's very enjoyable. There's a magic in beat 'em up games and the team at Klei Entertainment has found it and given it to the masses in Shank 2.
Shank 2 is available now for Xbox 360 for 800 MS and PlayStation 3 for $9.99. Game Rant played the Xbox 360 version for this review.
Follow me on Twitter @TrungleFever