To be honest, I am not that much into downloadable games. I don’t know how to explain it since I love to download old video games through PSN and the VC, but for some reason, I don’t download a lot of downloadable games. Maybe it’s because the price can be a little odd and intimidating to me. However, I have warmed up to them recently with stuff like Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo HD and Splosion Man. I do plan on reviewing more downloadable games since there are actually a good handful of great games to download. So, to kick these downloadable games off, I decided to do a game that I have actually been waiting to download and play. So, what could this game be? What game could possibly start a new section of my blog simply known as Download Domination? Shank! Now, this is what you get if you combine Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez films into a video game, and mix it with 2 barrels of blood and violence. Since we also have the new film Machete to go see, I decided to do this game first. Over the top violence, a great grindhouse story, amazing 2D graphics, and fun gameplay. Let’s cut our way through, and review Shank!
The main story of Shank is about an ex-mercenary named, umm… Shank. He is after a crime leader for killing his girlfriend and is out for revenge. There is a back-story to Shank in the co-op mode where we get to know him and his ex partner in crime, Falcon, where they would do services for the main villain of the game. However, the story as a whole, is pure grindhouse-style, so I wouldn’t really take it seriously, and would just have fun with it.
The gameplay featured in Shank is of course bloody 2D side-scrolling hack-and-slash. You basically go through levels, hacking and slashing minor enemies that range from normal henchmen, to army soldiers, dogs, big buff guys, and guys with huge weapons. At the end of each level, you fight a unique boss that usually has a pattern that you need to find out and master, or else you are boned. Luckily for you, Shank has a huge array of moves to take down legions of henchmen. You, of course, have your two shanking knives as your default weapon. During the game, you also gain a chain saw, two pistols, a shotgun, two machetes, chained gloves, an uzi, and a katana. Shank can pull off multiple kinds of combos that look pretty dang awesome and fit in films like Kill Bill and Machete. You can also grab enemies and stuff a grenade down their mouth and watch half or all of their health go in one big boom! One of Shank’s main features though is his ability to lunge at an opponent like Wolverine and basically hack its face off. In the two-player co-op mode, Falcon basically plays the same as Shank, and has even more unique boss fights that are only in the co-op mode. Shank can also pick up a flamethrower and a chain gun, but you can’t take them with you through the levels.
The game’s 2D style graphics are amazing. Everything looks really good with great character design and wonderful animation. The voice acting is passable, but then again, Shank plays much like a cartoon grindhouse film so I didn’t expect it to be top notch. I think this is a situation where I go in using a complex known as the “commando complex”. This is where I play a game that has a story that isn’t the best, but is overall fun. I think a lot more reviewers should do that and not be so uptight about this game. The music is also well done with great guitar music playing in the background. I also like the unique level designs from a train level, a slaughterhouse, a strip bar, to an Old Spaniard church-like building. It’s an overall game that has a good amount of variety to the package. Oh, by the way, the story is written by the guy who did the God of War series. That is cool on its own merit!
However, it seems like the people at Klei Entertainment made some major game design 101 flaws. Don’t get me wrong; what they did well is really good. The game can sometimes be overly difficult! I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever played through such difficult levels due to design flaws. Sometimes, it’s just not fun going through the level because of those flaws. This also is an issue with boss fights. Some bosses are easier than previous ones, and that is an issue when one boss fight is like two tries before beating, and the next one takes one attempt. The final boss is also a good example of a final boss that just isn’t fun to fight. He is overly difficult, and the fight wears on when it doesn’t need to. I also think there are some minor control issues like the right analog stick for some reason not being the dodge command. It sometimes just makes dodging in a game like this so much harder than it needs to be. I also am a bit surprised there isn’t a full game co-op mode. I think it would be a great thing as DLC since on the menu it has an area for downloadable content. If you do DLC Klei Entertainment, here is a small list of DLC/patches you can do.
3. A DLC patch to make the full game co-op since it’s much more fun hacking and slashing through enemies with a friend.
2. Make a patch to where the right analog stick is the dodge command. It would make the game much easier to go through.
1. Make a patch for the difficulty. Look through each review and find out what areas were really tedious to get through and make a patch so they are not so difficult.
All and all though, Shank is a fun hack-and-slash downloadable title for the PS3 and 360, and I recommend downloading it for either console, since you can get it on both. I think this game does have potential for a sequel, and it definitely deserves one since it is one of the best downloadable games you can get on the market right now. I say download it and have some hack-and-slash grindhouse film fun.
This game gets a solid 7 out of 10