Shank 2 Review

Shank 2 (Available on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Action
Publisher: EA
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Release Date: February 8th, 2012
PSN/Xbox Live: Online Multiplayer

Parent Talk: Shank 2 is rated M for mature because of blood, gore and gratuitous violence.  This may be a 2D release, but it sure as heck isn’t for kids.

Plays Like: Pretty much any 2D action brawler released during this console generation.

Review Basis: Finished off the single player game, and tried the co-op survival mode.

If you enjoyed the original Shank this review is almost pointless, because you’re going to go out there and download the sequel no matter what I say.  The good news is that Shank 2 fixes a lot of the problems the original game had, but also makes a few missteps along the way.

The Great:

Shank 2 is a more playable game compared to the first thanks to the improved difficulty level.  That doesn’t mean it’s a cakewalk, but so long as you learn which weapons work best against which enemies, you should be fine.

The Good:

+ Who needs to block, when you can dodge!  This helps flesh out the combat system, making it that much quicker.

+ Further refinements include separating the health and attack buttons, and players can switch between heavy and regular weapons mid-combo which is both useful and necessary for survival.

+ Counter-kills are clear and evident thanks to a newly introduced exclamation mark that appears over certain enemies’ heads.

+ Money is used to purchase all kinds of new killing devices, and it’s the reason you’ll always be on the lookout for someone else to attack.

+ Remixed tone better suit the setting, and beautiful visuals help bring the game to life.  It feels much more “together” than the original game did, and is just as jaw dropping as ever.

The So-So:

+/- Players select their weapons at the beginning of each stage instead of having access to all weapons at all times.  While that works, it’s a step back because now there will be times where you no longer have access to a weapon you need.  As such the only way to switch back to that weapon is to die.

+/- Platforming elements have been scaled back, putting more emphasis on combat, but also increasing the repetitive nature of the game.

+/- Standard co-op has been removed because it would have made the game overly easy, but I loved that about the original Shank.  In its place is a survival move, which is fun, but not as interesting.

The Bad:

– The story might not be necessary in a game like this, but it could add to the experience.  As it is now we know that Shank is on a vacation, a dictator kidnaps a friend and Shank goes all over the place murdering everyone in his path.  The thing is, we’re not told why this is happening.  In the end we don’t care about any of these other characters.

– Not much to offer in terms of replay value.  Sure most will spend hours in the survival mode, but the true meat and bones of the game is now a four or five hour single player experience, and that’s a shame.

The Lowdown:

Shank 2 fixes a lot of the combat problems the original game had, but at the same time removes some of the better elements as well.  The missing co-op, the changed weapon loadout, and the bizarre story seem to be a step back, but the new abilities, power-ups and overall feel of the game is greatly improved.  Overall if you enjoyed the original, this is one you should check out.  Newbies might want to check out this one too, if only because of the improved flow of the game.

Average Score Scale: 7.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 7/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: If you’re in the mood for an action brawler that’s gory and filled with obscenities, then you’ve come to the right place.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: If co-op is your thing, you might be a little disappointed with some of the changes.

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