Shank is the latest game to hit Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network from Klei Entertainment. In this game you assume the role of Shank and you are on a quest for revenge. Shank is a side scrolling, over the top beat em up similar to Contra, except more brutal. As you progress in the game you will gain access to more powerful weapons that will allow you to kill your enemies quicker and in more gruesome ways. My favorite tactic was leaping on an enemy from a distance and then taking out my chainsaw and eliminating them before the next wave of enemies could get to me. The controls for Shank are damn near perfect and will immediately respond to what you are trying to accomplish. The smoother control scheme saved me on more than one occasion when I thought I was about to fall to my death, however, I was able to grab onto something at the last possible moment. There are times in the game where the difficulty can really ramp up and get a bit frustrating but that only makes you strategize a bit more about how you want to take out a particular group of enemies. There are a number of ways for you to execute your enemies from standard pistols to machetes to a chainsaw and more.
One thing you will immediately notice when you start up this game is the art style. Shank looks amazing with a fantastic frame rate and smooth, crisp animations. The cut scenes look fantastic and do a great job of carrying the story. As I mentioned above, there can be some frustrating parts in the game and, fortunately, the developers give you the option to skip a cut scene so that you won’t have to watch it for a tenth time if you are stuck on a boss fight. The boss fights themselves are completely over the top and for most of them you have to utilize the environment in order to take down your much larger opponent. There is also a strategy to the type of weapon that you choose to use. Once you get the shotgun you can do a lot of damage to enemies that are close to you, however, it takes a moment or two to reload which could leave you vulnerable to enemies. You can choose to use the standard pistols but they aren’t as effective as the shotgun. The weapons are very easy to use once you have them and you can switch between weapons utilizing the d-pad. You have unlimited ammunition in this game so you don’t have to worry about searching for ammo drops. This allows you to simply concentrate on the game itself and have a lot of fun doing so in the process.
Shank is a fantastic arcade title. I’m kind of puzzled as to why it wasn’t picked for a Summer of Arcade title this year on Microsoft’s side of things. It could have easily replaced the new Castlevania or Hydro Thunder. The game is a bit on the short side and you should be able to finish it in approximately four hours. With that said I still believe it is worth the price of admission. Shank also features a separate multiplayer campaign. Unfortunately it is only local multiplayer. This is a big misstep on the part of the developers. Fortunately, the game is a lot of fun so it can be somewhat overlooked, however, it damages the replayability of the title. Overall Shank is one of the best beat ’em up titles to come out in a long time. It proves that these types of games can still exist and be successful as long as they are done correctly. Hopefully there is a sequel because I would love to see what happens next.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network