A South-American vacation goes horribly wrong – time for some mindless violence!
The two-dimensional, side-scrolling brawler has been around for ages. Many gamers of a certain age or more will likely have fond memories of ploughing coins into arcade machines, or playing the multitude of different examples of this genre on the earlier home consoles. But in recent years their interest has waned, having been dropped for more impressive 3D visuals and deeper gameplay. But this didn’t stop developers Klei from releasing the first Shank game in 2010 with a fairly positive reception, and it doesn’t stop them from pumping out a sequel either.
Shank 2 offer more of the same with a few tweaks thrown in along the way. The gameplay style will be easily recognised by most gamers, move from left to right, fighting all of the bad guys and the occasional boss, whilst every now and again jumping or climbing platforms. The way that the game plays is fairly generic.
There is also very little by way of story to distract the player from the action. The game begins with our hero sitting on a bus and comfortably drowning his sorrows in a bottle. As always in this type of tale, things soon get messy and the hero is left with no option but to kill, in a variety of violent ways, everyone who gets in his way. There really isn’t much more to say about the story, for what it’s worth.
The player will work their way along the different levels, taking out the different enemies that stand in their path. The variety of enemies is nice, with some just running forward and attacking, whilst others prefer to stand back and shoot or throw grenades. As the player progresses and comes across more different types of enemies, they will have to use different tactics to overcome them. Whilst the game may seem at first glance to be a simple button-masher, it will soon become apparent that a certain amount of skill is required to proceed, forcing the player to think carefully about which weapons to carry with them through the levels, as they cannot be changed on the fly. However, players can pick up dropped weapons as they progress, providing some nice variety.
Improvements that have been made mostly revolve around how smooth the game plays and how it is controlled. The block from the previous game, for example, has now gone to be replaced with a simple dodge assigned to the right stick. Healing now has its own dedicated button, rather than having to share with the attack button. Everything is much more fluid and feels easier to play.
Which is a total illusion, as Shank 2 is by no means an easy game. The difficulty spikes that hampered the original game seem to have returned, although maybe not quite so viciously, to make Shank 2 incredibly frustrating at times. The heavy waves of enemies that will be appearing towards the end of the game, and are almost impossible to overcome, may well be expected. But things take a turn for the difficult quite early in the game, with some particularly nasty enemies to work around.
Multiplayer action is provided in the form of a co-op survival mode, which is a complete blast. Two players taking on waves of baddies across three different maps with all of the Shank 2 violent combat and impressive visuals, it may not be the most involved experience, but that doesn’t stop it from being great fun and a welcome addition to the main game.
Speaking of visuals, perhaps what sticks in the mind about the original game was the way it looks. This time round the player will be able to experience more of the same, only even better. Shank 2 has a very distinctive style, with highly detailed sprites and some nice blood splatter effects. Visually, Shank 2 is a treat.
Although Shank 2 is an improvement over the first game, which will please all of the Shank fans, there have been no drastic changes to attract new players. If some bloody 2D side-scrolling action is what you need in your life, then this will certainly tick all of the boxes and leave you grinning.