I am going to be very honest. While looking back at some of my older reviews, I might have made a mistake on some scores I gave certain games. The game I am talking about is Shank. While I still found the game fun, it was a bit clunkier than I remembered when I first reviewed the game. It was also a bit overpriced for a few hours long campaign with a 2-player co-op mode that had the same clunky controls, level designs, and tedious boss fights the single player mode had. I gave it an 8 out of 10, but it probably should have been either a 6 or 7 out of 10. I played it again recently, and I felt like it doesn’t age that well since its release back in 2010. Don’t get me wrong though, I love some parts of the combat, the graphics, and the stupid grindhouse storyline. After a while, I had a bit of buyer’s remorse of downloading Shank because it became clear that it was a clunky and unpolished experience that was not worth 15 dollars. I could recommend it over games like Blade Kitten, but the damage was done. Shank, along with Spare Parts, were games I wish I didn’t spend cash on to download. However, my hopes were raised when they announced a sequel to Shank and said they would fix everything the last game did wrong. I put down 10 dollars on the Xboxlive store, and along with the Simpson’s Arcade Game, I downloaded Shank 2 hoping they were making a promise and going with it, unlike companies like Lionhead Studios or the companies that make the terrible Marvel movie tie-in video games for Sega (I am looking at you Iron Man 2). So let us get started with my review of Shank 2.
The story has Shank in the South American forest region. After getting off a bus and cutting some guy’s head off because he destroyed his beer bottle, he ends up meeting an old friend who helps a rebel group try to take down some evil dictator who is kidnapping and killing civilians. It is up to Shank to take down this evil dictator and his multiple henchmen to save the day! This game is more along the line of Rambo grindhouse as there really isn’t a lot of depth to the characters and it gets straight to the point on how one-dimensional the villains and characters actually are. They do have some characteristics, but they are not fully fleshed out. Just like how a good grindhouse story should be. There is some backstory that Shank grew up in an orphanage, but it isn’t fully touched upon, which is a shame since it would be kind of cool to know how Shank became Shank.
The gameplay is still a side-scrolling hack-and-slash mixed with some shoot em’ up sections for good measure. The biggest thing this game had going for it was that the developers said they reworked and took apart every bit of the last game’s combat and made it new. You can still choose your weapon loadout, like you want a shotgun and sledgehammer? Go right ahead. For me, I use the chainsaw and shotgun combo with grenades. The biggest improvement however is the dodge mechanic. The right analog stick is used to roll forward or backward out of harm’s way. OMG! The combat is much more fluent now with a more solid dodge mechanic. Instead of doing something stupid like pressing L1 or left bumper to dodge and move, you have the convenient right stick. Even the boss fights in the game have more variety within them and do not go around that stupid counter mechanic that some of the bosses in Shank had that were just not fun and were utterly frustrating. These bosses do go for the trial and error of the boss patterns and some of them can be annoying as heck, but they are much more fun to go through. The single player campaign is about a few hours long, maybe 4 hours or so, and sadly, there is no co-op single player, which was one of the first game’s only redeeming value and it is annoying they took it out. It’s like when Square made Secret of Evermore and took out the fun co-op mode that Secret of Mana had. This game does have a 2-player mode, but it is really for survival mode where you protect 3 weapon crates from hordes of enemies and bosses, and can earn points for stronger weapons in the mode and set up traps to hurt stronger enemies. The whole package of Shank 2 might have some weird decisions like the 2-player campaign being taken out, but everything here is much smoother, and more importantly, it is really fun and you feel like an awesome grindhouse action hero.
The cartoon flash style animation is slick, well done, and looks good. If you liked the graphical style of Super Meat Boy, then you will love it here. The voice acting is total grindhouse and I just love it. They knew the script and story were cornball, so they just ran with it. It is like when you see an actor have fun with his role even if he or she is in a terrible movie. The music is just as awesome. It has that rock-and-roll feel, and the theme is always catchy as heck.
So, what is wrong with this game? Well, not a lot. They basically improved a huge number of things on this game that has only a few little errors. The little quick-time event cut scene where you damage bosses could have had more damage-dealing effects, since the bosses are now more varied and are tough in a good way. I also wish there was an easy mode since it seems like enemies hit harder, and I’ve died a couple times because I’ve rushed in or gotten ganged up on by the hard-hitting enemies. Of course, that could have just been my mistake, too. I also wish there was a co-op mode since the only thing we get is a survival mode that can be played with two people.
You video game developers reading this? This company took suggestions and criticism and actually used them to improve on the sequel. I can highly recommend this game over the first one with its 10-dollar price point and fun-as-heck combat. Seriously, video game companies could learn a few things on how to improve on your sequels. I am looking at you, Lionhead Studios.
This game gets an 8 out of 10