Review: Shank 2
Instead of taking the original Shank and adding all sorts of new features into the sequel the team at Klei chose instead to polish what they had while adding a couple incremental upgrades. The result is a game that feels like a better version of the original Shank, a game that looks slightly better and a package that’s probably better than the original if only just slightly.
Having not played any Shank since it originally came out back in 2010 it was hard for me to notice any differences between how the original and Shank 2 played. It wasn’t until I went back and played both games back to back that I noticed the very small changes that make Shank 2 feel better and play smoother. The button mapping has seen a slight change to make combat flow better. Instead of a block button you know have a roll that’s triggered with the right analog stick. There’s now a dedicated button to pick up items whereas in the last game it shared the button with your regular attack. On top of that Shank 2 just feels a little more responsive and of course the addition of a counter move helps tremendously to keep the flow of combat steady. It’s just a little of added polish to the combat within the game but it does help to make Shank 2 feel better.
The single-player campaign within Shank 2 is very similar to how the campaign in the original game worked. There’s eight stages of various locations you’ll run through slicing up bad guys in the most brutal way possible. There’s a story that’s told in between levels through poorly compressed cut-scenes that don’t really make a whole lot of sense. At the end of the day Shank is going in to slice people up and that’s about all you need to know. To offer up a little change there’s a level where you play as a female companion. She controls mostly the same to how Shank controls but her scythe, among other weapons, help to add a little bit of change. It would have been nice to see more of that.
The campaign itself is fine on the whole and I appreciate the steady difficulty increase that eventually required me to use everything I had to take down later bosses. However it’s what’s left outside of the campaign that just sort of falls flat. The initial Shank had a co-op campaign that my friend and I had a lot of fun playing through. This time the co-op campaign has been totally removed in favor of a survival mode. Survival mode pits you with another player either locally or online in a match against 30 waves of enemies. Each of the three survival maps contain traps that you can set to take out enemies and require teamwork to get through every stage. Survival mode isn’t bad. I do feel that you’ll have much more fun playing locally as playing with online players quickly became boring and the connection dropped a bit too often. Also of note was the occasional slow down I noticed while playing with someone online. It didn’t ruin the experience but it was just noticeable enough to make the controls feel weird. To be honest I would take a co-op campaign over survival mode any day of the week.
Shank 2 feels like a game that can’t add something without taking something else away. In the case of adding survival mode the co-op campaign was taken out. The same goes for the way you handle your weapons in the game. The original Shank allowed you to constantly switch between your heavy/ranged weapons in-game. Shank 2 makes you choose a load-out at the beginning of a stage or from the pause menu. The inability to switch on the fly is unfortunate as that was a large part of the fun with the original.
Overall Shank 2 is a more polished version of Shank. The combat is much more responsive and the addition of counter attacks goes a long way. Even the graphics and animation seem better than it’s predecessor. The fire effect in particular looks really great. However the lack of a co-op campaign is disappointing especially when the survival mode isn’t exactly a great replacement. On top of that there’s really not much new to the game this time around. Shank 2 is more Shank and if that’s what you want you’ll likely be happy with what you get. If not then there’s nothing this time around that’s going to change your mind.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Combat is more responsive
- Graphics and animation are still great
- Counter attacks
What I Dislike:
- Survival mode replacing co-op campaign
- Can't switch weapons on the fly
- Poor compression of cutscenes