In the spirit of action games everywhere let’s cut straight to the chase…Shank 2 is a bit special.
The vicious 2D beat ‘the shit out of ‘em’ up is a visceral treat that ignites the adrenaline and rarely gives room to breathe.
Following up 2010’s original Shank release, Shank 2 hits harder than ever before. It carries a fearsome challenge and will dispose of the weak-willed within the half-hour but, for those with a harder core and Buddhist like patience this is a game with much to give.
Shank, the man, the hero, the anti-hero, is a brutal unforgiving dealer of extreme pain. The force driving him down this path of carnage is revenge. Revenge on those that have his loved ones captive and his village overrun. To be fair it’s a paper thin plot that wafts by like some 2nd rate lift muzak between levels, merely there to give us a little idea as to why were in control of a chap intent on unleashing all hell on his foes.
Thankfully when you’re confronted with action as superb and downright intense as Shank 2 offers the story matters little anyway.
The gameplay, from control of our hero to the use of a wide variety of weapons to the leaping, rolling and general acrobatics are top notch. Moving Shank around the screen feels incredibly fluid and super responsive.
Weapon loadouts can be selected and altered prior to each level and this brings a nice slice of strategy to proceedings, although to be honest if you’re anything like me, when the going gets tough the tough start panicking and the button bashing commences. In Shank 2 the panic set in often.
The single player campaign is tough. Bare-knuckle, broken nosed, back room brawler tough.
It took a mere few minutes before I became unstuck and experienced multiple deaths at the hands of the same enemies on the same rage inducing section. I somehow bumbled my way through only to become even more unstuck a few minutes down the line.
It probably sounds infuriating, but, for reasons that remain a mystery to a me as a gamer with a habit of losing temper, patience and use of polite language in record time, Shank 2 never tipped me over the edge.
Maybe it’s the devilishly brilliant control, maybe the vibrant, violent cartoon visuals or maybe I just love taking a chainsaw to a swarm of bad guys and watching body parts and blood splatter the screen in a Tarantino-esque way, but I just couldn’t get enough.
The combat, which is the meat of this game, is a joy. Shank has a huge arsenal of weaponry to hand from the classic knives and chainsaw to grenades and baseball bats, all of them feel solid and all are a pleasure to use. Shank seems to have also spent a little time working on the art of head breaking as he now has a tasty new counter move to hand.
The graphics are as rich and colourful as ever, each location is brimming with life and the animations, particularly following a counter move, are both smooth as silk and bloodily graphic. Baseball bat down the throat anyone?
Multiplayer comes via a survival mode and is fun for a while but can, like most survival modes, become a tad repetitive after continued play. Still, it’s a decent alternative from the single player.
Overall Shank 2 is a triumph. It combines fast paced, non-stop head splitting chaos, beautiful controls and eye candy visuals to serve up a feast to remember. It’s improved on the first game in almost every area, and that first game wasn’t exactly a slouch itself. Some players may find the going a bit too tough, Shank 2 certainly pulls no punches and even the opening level hits hard but when a game is this well crafted at least there’s good reason to persist.