Review: Shank – or – Why Mario is Sitting in the Corner Weeping

Review: Shank – or – Why Mario is Sitting in the Corner Weeping

Platforms: PC, 360, PS3

Game Name: Shank

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Developer: Klei Entertainment

Genre: 2D Platform, action

Release Date: 25 Oct 2010

ESRB Rating: M

Developer Summary:

Betrayed by the only family he ever knew and left for dead it’s up to Shank to seek revenge for the death of his beloved at the hands of the underworld’s deadliest assassins.

Shank is a 2D cinematic brawler, built with the things that Klei is passionate about: amazing control, great animation, immersive environment, and a cinematic lens to tell a great story.

What We Think:

Exploitation films have made a comeback recently and so have old-school 2D Platform games. The good people at Klei Entertainment asked, why not blend the two? Why not, indeed. Shank is certainly a strange breed, but it got the best features of both parents. Be forewarned though, the best parts of exploitation film is NOT under any circumstances meant for children.

Shank Screenshot 1

Shank is a man out for vengeance. His old gang boss did him the worst kind of wrong and left him for dead. Now Shank will wade through every minion in his way to return the favor. The blood sprays and limbs fly as you hack, chop and blast your way through levels that include urban streets, strip clubs, and a palatial mansion. The weapons at his disposal include knives,a chainsaw, machetes, a katana, dual pistols, a shotgun, an uzi, and grenades.

Shank Screenshot 2

For an indie game, the production value here is stellar. While it isn’t quite traditional hand drawn quality, it is the best flash-style animation I’ve ever seen. They could quickly cut the clips together and with few editions have a fantastic 30-45 show.

The in-game animations are equally excellent. Shank spins, jumps, stabs, and shoots with amazing fluidity. In waiting for this titles arrival on PC, I’ve had occasion to read a number of reviews of the 360 and PS3 versions and saw many complaints about the reaction time between pushing a button and Shank reacting, and I can tell you that there weren’t any problems in my experience with the PC version.

The way Klei Entertainment blurs the line between animation and game are equally amazing. You’ll find the game jumping between animation and gameplay almost seamlessly, but with enough skill that you wont become surprised by the transition. Animation and dialogue also plays over the action, further blending the two elements.

Shank Screenshot 3

The gameplay in Shank is also top notch. Rather than the simple couple of buttons typical to the genre, Shank has a control scheme more on the level of Devil May Cry. Beyond switching between multiple melee and ranged weapons, you also have the capacity to leap onto, grab and dodge away from enemies, creating an amazing amount of combinations to your mayhem.

The action is perhaps a little repetitive, but with the entire game taking around three hours to complete you shouldn’t find yourself becoming bored with it. Boss fights are a simple matter of finding the right combination of actions, but are entertaining and often humorous. The single player story is also enhanced by a shorter two player local co-op prequel.

Shank Screenshot 4

I wouldn’t often recommend spending $15 for a game you can finish in a few hours, but this one has such polish that I’m happy to do so in this case. Pick it up. It’s quite a ride.

P.S. One caveat I share with the developer is the need for a gamepad of some sort. If you don’t have one, get one. The game just doesn’t play as well without it.

Get Shank on Steam

Release Dates:
August 24th, 2010 (PLAYSTATION Network)
August 25th, 2010 (Xbox LIVE Arcade)
October 25th, 2010 (PC)

[xrr rating=”4.5/5″]

One thought on “Review: Shank – or – Why Mario is Sitting in the Corner Weeping

  1. I’ve found remapping the keys so that movement is WASD, grapple is F, grenade is C, pounce is E, Shank is left arrow, Heavy attack is up arrow, gun is down arrow and block/dodge is right arrow works wonders for the gameplay on a keyboard.

    There’s something just ingrained about movement on the left that makes it a lot easier to control.

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