Somewhere deep in the South American jungle thereâ€™s a dictator who needs killing, and Shank is just the man to do it. And no twelve-foot-tall giants with flamethrowers or bikini-clad cannibals are going to stop him. In Shank 2, follow-up to 2010â€™s blood-soaked hero-quest Shank, thereâ€™s going to be some fun down south of the border. Thatâ€™s if you find slit throats, point blank shotgun blasts, and burning corpses fun.
Yes Shank 2, the 2d beat-em-up from developer Klei Entertainment, is violent. Itâ€™s really violent. For example, in an early cut scene Shank manages to decapitate a pilot, chainsaw a helicopter in half, and tear a shark to pieces with his bare hands, in around thirty seconds. But, us gamers are a pretty understanding demographic. As long as violence is handled with style and cartoonish exuberance (and in Shank 2 it is), as well as with plenty of macho posturing and amply endowed heroines in low cut tops (once again, it is), weâ€™ll put up with a bit of violence.
In the original game mob hitman Shank turns on his boss Cesar after his girlfriend is murdered. In Shank 2 he heads to South America and is caught up in a war between freedom fighters, the Cartel, a corrupt army, and a tribe of cannibals. Unfortunately, compared to the relative classic (and straight forward) story in the original game, Shank 2 is a bit of a mess. For one reason or another, usually bloody vengeance, Shank jumps and rolls his way across eight different locations killing everything.
If the story isnâ€™t much, the presentation and gameplay really make up for it. The graphics are colourful and full of style and energy. Essentially a 2d side scroller, there is a bit of exploring to do if you want to find all the enemy Intel. But, like the very minor nods towards platforming, it all takes a distant backseat to the fighting.
Itâ€™s good then that the fighting is so well done. The face buttons handle quick, strong, and ranged attacks. If you get cornered you can jump with the A button or roll out of the way with the right stick. The triggers, if you get the timing right, let you perform leaping strikes or particularly bloody counter attacks. While the controls do take a little bit of practice, mainly because your first instinct is to mash away, counter-strikes and evasion become very important when taking on the end of level bosses.
To help you get through Shank, as well as his small quick-hitting shanks you unlock nine weapons from the powerful, but short ranged shotgun to mines, grenades, and a sledgehammer. As well as these enemies drop all kinds of bats, shovels, and pipes that you can pick up and use.
However, even taking into account end of level cannibal kings and flamethrower wielding giants, getting through the singleplayer campaign mode wonâ€™t take much more than a day. So, considering that the campaign has no co-op option, itâ€™s good that the two-player survival mode ramps up the challenge.
Survival mode, as you can guess from the name, drops you into one of three locations to battle it out against increasingly numerous and difficult waves of enemies. As you accomplish tasks, various characters from both of the Shank games are unlocked each with their own set of stat bonuses. While you can play it alone, once the big bad guys from the story mode start appearing, and the screen fills up with numerous bombers, zombies and gun carrying thugs, you will need to get help to make it through alive.
Survival mode is very good. Finding a match and playing online couldnâ€™t be easier. Also, the increasing difficulty makes you use all the cool power-ups you can buy from the store. Like the flamethrower or a wild boar you can let loose. Itâ€™s challenging, fun, and makes the game go beyond button mashing and turns it into a much more tactical affair.
Shank 2 is high energy, gleeful violence. Over the top perhaps, but itâ€™s a game that knows what it is and revels in it. Blood sprays, bad guys get chucked into meat grinders, people donâ€™t just get stabbed, they get stabbed in the face, and then get a solid kicking on top of that. While getting the hang of avoiding some of the boss attacks can take a bit of practice, the excellent survival mode is always there to polish your skills. So, donâ€™t worry why you have to kill everyone in South America, just start up that chainsaw and get to work.