Shank released at the perfect time, right between The Expendables and Machete, two films with excessive amounts of testosterone and a whole lot of ass kicking. Think of Shank as a lone psychopath that goes on a homicidal rampage to avenge the death of his beloved. It’s full of blood, over-the-top kills and macho dialogue.
You obviously play as Shank, a tattooed tough guy armed with blades, guns and a whole lot of redemption. Each stage throws you into a world of bad guys and most of the fun comes from killing them in the most painful ways (you could make them eat a grande if that pleases you). You can land on a guy and stab his face, shotgun him into oblivion, or just push him off a speeding locomotive. It’s this assortment of mayhem that keeps things exciting and entertaining at the same time. The fact that each knife slash make a spray of blood only makes things better.
Sooner or later, you’ll encounter bosses, such as Butcher (a pro wrestler) and a sexy lady brandishing a katana. This is where the gameplay takes a bit of a belly flop, since all of these bosses rely on unfair tactics to send Shank to an early grave. You’ll often scream or curse (possibly toss the controller) in rage, but don’t let quick deaths ruin your enjoyment. All of these meat heads have weak points, and things become way easier once you figure out their attack patterns.
That being said, Shank has some other small issues that’ll drive you mad. For some reason, the developers mapped basic attack and grab health to the same button, making it easy to stab and unwittingly drink the bottles lying around, which could lead to the use of health when not needed.
There’s co-op, but not through the entire game. Even worse, it’s offline only. That was a strange decision, considering that hard mode removes checkpoints, thus making Shank significantly more difficult. Would have been nice to bring someone else along for the ride.
At the same time, this game is all about one man’s quest for redemption, so it wouldn’t make sense to give him a little friend; Arnold didn’t have help in Commando. On that note, I strongly recommend purchasing Shank, especially if you grew up playing 2D classics; and with DLC on the way, you can bet that Klei Entertainment plans to make an already enjoyable experience even better.
Lots of blood
Satisfying beat-em-up gameplay
Slick looking graphics
Plenty of weapons
One button slices and drinks health