Review: Shank 2

Shank 2 is the video game equivalent to a Grindhouse flick. Awesome story, hero asked to save the day and gory as hell. For the last reason alone should be a good indication of the type of game your getting into. And if you can read between the lines, it means its a side scrolling must have game. Side scrolling adventure games remind me of my youth and will never die. Do I have to remind you of the greats?  i.e. Super Mario Brother, Double Dragon and Castlevania. Shank 2 has brought back the 2D element with an artistic approach.  And boy did they make it work!

Control the aresenal. You play as Shank, the hero in a hack-n-slash attack style. Before each level begins, you select your weapon loadouts. Your weapons are standard attack (square), heavy attack (triangle) and throwing weapon / guns (circle). Throughout the story, you will unlock new weapons which you can pick up during the level and equip your loadout for the next level. You can also pick up environment weapons, such as propane tanks and baseball bats. But those will break after overuse leaving you with nothing but dust and your original loadout weapons.

Scenery for the art lover. This is where Shank 2 really shines. The artistic flow and comic book backdrops are fantastic. You get a good sense of detail and the games’ foreground all work perfectly for a smooth transition into the games cutscenes. The characters voices are dead on. They each represent their story angle from end of level boss, to Felipe the bartender who hands you your dual pistols.

On screen help. I’ve always been a fan of on screen tutorials that happen during gameplay over the tutorials that occur as “practice”. Practice? You’re reminded what buttons to press throughout the first couple of levels, but rest assured the game is intuitive. Dodging enemies with a flick of the R3 button keeps this fast paced action adventure game quick in your hands. It may not sound like much, but pulling off combos while avoiding the “big” foes is satisfying to an extent. Between each level during the loading screens you will also pick up some pointers that will help you along the way. Such as pouncing ontop of an enemy causes major damage with L2.

Nags to riches. With each kill and item you pick up, you will score points. But with a death comes an erase of your score and a restart from previous autosave. Not bad, but this means all the items you’ve picked up along the way need also to be re-picked up. An annoyance but I get where they’re coming from. Be more careful during those battles which put you up against 8 foes or lose all the points you’ve accrued and do it all over again.

Survival Mode.  Online or local 2 player co-op is Shank 2’s survival mode game.  Your objective is to survive waves of enemies and mini-bosses all while protecting the supply stations from the bombers.  If the bombers do plant a bomb you can disarm it by standing in front but you only have a few seconds to do so.  I found playing locally provided better results due to communication.  You and your partner should agree on who should stay up top while the other should worry about killing the enemies.

Final Thought: Shank 2 provides an action packed side-scrolling adventure game with plenty of artistic visuals and great voice acting.  It’s by-far one of the more fun games I’ve played this year, and can easily recommend it’s $9.99 purchase on the PSN and PC and Xbox LIVE Arcade for 800 Microsoft Points.  It’s cut-scenes were done well and the storyline is great.  It’s nice to know comic book graphics can play a pivotal part in video games as seen in inFamous cut scenes.

8/10

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