by Kiran Sury
previewed on PC
Guns don’t kill people. Shank does.
More exciting is the prospect of using enemy’s weapons against them. You can now grapple foes and take their weapons, or pick them up from corpses strewn across the ground. These weapons are temporary, which fits in with the idea of a shank – a homemade (rather, a prison-made) weapon. Klei hopes to liberate players, letting them freestyle with what’s available rather than having them choose a favorite weapon and stick with it throughout the entire game.
Coop also makes a return, albeit in a different incarnation. Instead of the separate story mode of the first game, players can now team up online or off in a siege mode with a never-ending influx of enemies. Taking tips from Gears of War’s Horde mode and Call of Duty’s Nazi Zombies, Shank 2 focuses on co-op strategies with a risk/reward element, rather than coop moves like jumping off your partner. Jamie explains the shift: “having the scenario in such a way that you have to be in two places at a time, needing to cover the other player, those kinds of mechanics work far better in coop, at least in our game, than coop moves do.” This should stop players from getting in each other’s way and force them to work as a team to survive.
Enemies now drop gold, which is comparable to the money you earn from kills in Nazi Zombies. In single player this just contributes to your score, but in multiplayer you can use it to purchase items like turrets, health and other last-minute saves. Everything you use will have to be earned in this way; according to Jamie, no DLC has been planned for Shank 2, so you won’t be able to buy a BFG and blast your way to victory.
Stab. Rinse. Repeat.
The final element of Shank is the boss fight. The bosses of the first game were inventive but disappointingly routine. Normal attacks had almost no effect, and you had to wait until they tripped up and exposed their weakness. Press a button, do an attack that took off a set amount of health, and repeat. For a game that prided itself on combat, it was pretty boring. All of this has changed for the sequel. Jamie elaborates on the switch: “Shank 2’s bosses are much more about a straight up fight than it is about finding their one weakness. Shank 1 bosses were really kind of old-school in that style. We got a whole lot of comments; some people hated it, some people were like ‘that is exactly what I wanted, I wanted that old-school challenge of me trying to figure out how to beat this boss.’ But I also understand the people that got really frustrated because they couldn’t figure it out. So this time around we’re making it more of a straight up fight where you’re using the things that you’ve learned throughout the game against the bosses and instead, you’re deciphering the patterns of the bosses and avoiding the patterns of the bosses and beating them up with your regular moves.”
With improved visuals, more gameplay variety, bosses that require skill rather than gimmicks and a longer-lasting multiplayer mode, Shank 2 is shaping up to be the Antonio Banderas of downloadable games. Look for it, hopefully with a machinegun guitar case in tow, in early 2012.