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[Review] Shank 2

Shank 2, by all means, is not a technical breakthrough and it doesn’t bring anything new to the table either. What Shank 2 is: a well animated 2D brawler that exceeds its predecessor in every department. Beginning with the improved game mechanics and the very addictive survival mode, to the bloody awesome animated scenes and the few extra unlockables that keeps you coming back for more.

The Story

All you need to know is: Shank is back to fight a dictator and save the day, which seems to be the theme lately. Well, the story has no purpose, other than serving big boss battles at the end of each level. The cut scenes are mildly entertaining, but again, I didn’t care much. I was busy shooting and stabbing stuff. Each of the 8 levels offers different enemies and environments, all for the purpose of building your momentum to the final fight.

The bosses themselves are not much of a challenge, as each boss will require different strategy, which once you figure out, the fight shouldn’t last more than minutes. I finished the campaign in merely 4 hours on normal difficulty, but you are always welcome to crank the difficulty up a notch and get yourself some good old 2D beating!

The Gameplay

If ain’t broke, don’t fix it right? Shank 2 formula haven’t changed much since the first game. It is still the same 2D fast based action you love and expect. Klei Entertainment added some minor improvements to the combat system, including a load-out screen that can be accessed at any time and exclamation marks that pops above enemies heads when they are about to launch a vicious attack on your character, which can be countered simply by pressing the L2 button or dodging to side with the right analog stick. I’ve also noticed that Shank responsiveness to switching between weapons during combos have increased, which is very appreciated since the enemy AI are not as forgivable as the first game and they will attack you constantly from both sides.

In Shank 2 the environment plays a bigger role in this installment. Weapons that enemies leave behind (spears, axes, shovels, fish .. yeah, you can slam enemies with fish) can be used to your advantage, as each weapon has a different finish move and some have trophies for you to collect. Some levels also offers mounted weapons which can be used for the same purpose of killing more enemies. While there is a variety of left over weapons available for you during the game, the main load-out screen still doesn’t offer much in this department.

In Shank 2 you carry a heavy weapon, a throwing weapon and some explosives of your choice, all limited by 3 choices for each category. Shank and Corina are the only playable characters in the campaign and they both have a different arsenal of weapons. You can change your character skin at any given time, but the weapons will remain the same, which was a bit of a letdown.

Survival Mode

The unlockable skins in Shank 2

This is where you will be spending the majority of your time in Shank 2. The online/offline cooperative Survival mode offers multiple waves of enemies, 30 waves in each map to be precise. Your task is simple, prevent enemies from planting bombs on the supply caches available in each level. Once a bomb is activated, you will have a few seconds to deactivate it by standing next to it and pressing the R1 button. During this process you are vulnerable to enemies’ attacks and you will have to communicate with your partner. You also can revive your partner during the game. If you both die the game will end and all your previous progress will be lost.

Killing enemies will grant you cash, which you can spend to purchase in-game items, keeping in mind that not all items will be available for immediate purchase. You will have to work through each wave in order to unlock some of the items, which ranges from a wild bore that knocks enemies down, to a missile strike that wipes the entire map off.

Playing through survival mode will unlock more characters and trophies. Each of the 16 different characters in survival mode has different statues and bonuses, unfortunately, they all share the same weapons load-out.

Say 'what' again, I dare you, I double dare you

Final Thoughts

Shank 2 is an improvement in every aspect. Despite the lack of a captivating story, the survival mode will keep you and your partner busy for hours and for the price of $9.99, this awesome, well animated, revengeful 2D blood path is a must play for all fans of the genre.

[review score=”84″ pros=”An improvement over its predecessor
Well animated 2D action
Survival mode
Replay value” cons=”Weak story
Limited load-out menu”]

Price on PSN is $9.99


This review is based on a PS3 edition of Shank 2 developed by Klei Entertainment and published by EA.