by Kiran Sury
reviewed on PS3
You may not need to switch between your weapons, though, because Shank can now wield a variety of enemy weapons in addition to his staple shanks, chainsaw, guns, and sledgehammer. Enemy weapons include fireaxes, spears, baseball bats and dead fish, and can be thrown or simply smacked around. Each weapon has a unique attack advantage, and experimenting with the different types adds variety to the gameplay (I stuck with the fish). Guns can also be fired in a full 360 degree range of motion, lending to a more acrobatic style of play.
The boss fights, a lengthy and repetitive affair in the first game, are much improved as well. They no longer fall prey to the ‘wait for them to miss, then press a button to remove 1/3 of their health bar’ strategy. Boss fights are varied, and all require skill and pattern memorization. There are two in particular that really require you to be adept with attacking and dodging. It’s not as gimmicky, and is far sweeter a victory than any fight from the first game.
Paint the town Red
The graphics retain the same comic-book style of the first game, but seem even crisper than before. Colors pop, flames sizzle, and a larger variety of enemy types keep things fresh. Environments are more interactive, with more objects to throw and death traps to activate.
The music fits the action, but has lost much of the Spanish flavor and the same thing can be said for the environments. Shank felt like the videogame incarnation of Once Upon A Time in Mexico. Shank 2, while improving upon the gameplay, has lost much of its Mexican flair. The voice acting, or rather, what little of it there is, is similarly uninspired.
Desperados Come in Twos
The single player campaign consists of eight levels lasting about twenty minutes each, so you should be able to complete the game in less than four hours. It’s almost enough to justify a purchase by itself, but Klei thankfully included a cooperative mode to round off the package. Replacing the coop campaign of the first game, the survival mode is playable both online and off. Two players choose between multiple characters with different stats and weapons, including Corina, Shank’s sister who also stars in her own campaign level and is as capable as Shank.
The idea is similar to Nazi Zombies from Call of Duty or Horde Mode from Gears of War, and features targets to defend, traps, an inventory shop and bosses. I was apprehensive when I first learned about the mode, but a few hours with it put my fears to rest. It translates the single player game’s combat perfectly, and is sure to eat up your time. Think of the classic Mario multiplayer levels, with the three tiers, Koopas, and POW bricks. It’s that, but with Shank (and I believe, Jamie Cheng, CEO of Klei, as the announcer).
They may not seem like much, but the improved dodge, counter-executions and extra weapons are just a few of the many ways that Shank 2 improves upon its predecessor. Challenging but fair bosses end the levels on a high note, and the platforming is much more fluid, adding to the action rather than subtracting from it. Survival mode is icing on one bloody cake. Shank 3 can’t come fast enough.
Combat is the fluidest it's been, bosses aren’t one-trick ponies this time, survival mode is great fun.
Plot? What plot? Mexican theme is largely lost. Weapon swapping is cumbersome.