Shank XBLA Review

My eye has been on Shank since I first heard of it earlier this year. There is something about gruesome and bloody art styles in films and video games that really catch my attention. Bloody, breaking, fighting, slashing with a mixture of meaningful revenge, is my cup of tea—and Shank boils it and serves it just right.

Story: I came in to the game thinking that it would take me strait into some bloody, hack and slash action after reading some of the reviews around the community. Little did I know that the game actually offered a catchy story and a purpose—I’m talking about good old fashion, revenge!

You are Shank, an x Cholo or Gangster seeking revenge for the murder of his wife. The game starts with an intro that can fool you of being directed by famous movie director, Robert Rodriguez who Directed movies such as:“Machete”, Desperado, “Grindhouse”, “Sin City”, yeah that intro and initial feel to the game is that good — and the art style, music and Mexican theme really help capture the cinema feel. In addition of having a great solo campaign, the game also offers a local co-op mode which is a prequel to the single player story. Having two different stories in one game truly captures the complete experience of the game—it makes you play both modes to explore further details into Shank’s revenge mission.

Gameplay/Controls: Shanks is a 2D side scroller full of bloody gore! If that weren’t enough to satisfy your needs, the gameplay is strait forward and simple, each level brings different enemies, and your mission is to sliced ‘em up, shoot ‘em up, beat ‘em up, or chainsaw their ass with the different types of weapons you carry or unlock. The weapons in the game range from shotguns and pistols, to chainsaws and swords — with some weapons working better for long range and others working better for up and close combat. With that said, the game does tend to be too easy during the first few chapters in the game—the shotgun could have easily been the only weapon needed when going through levels if you wanted to quickly get the job done. As you progress, the enemies do get harder and smarter; gangs of enemies will come out of nowhere from time to time while the chapters in the game end with a massive ambush before you reach the boss. Boss battles may seem intimidating at first, but each Boss has different patterns to beat them. Some are easily dropped, while others may take you a few tries before you discover the pattern. Quick Hint: I did find myself using my “jumping” skills to avoid contact from the enemy, jumping was key in this game.

On the replay value side, besides having 2 great modes (solo, co-op) the game has different custom weapon and costume unlocks to keep you involved with the Shank world, something so simple, yet powerful enough to make you a die hard fan

Graphics: Shank’s graphics are some of the best I have seen on an arcade game. Besides having a resemblance to a Robert Rodriguez film, the game’s graphics are crisp, detailed and versatile. An example of its versatility is fighting in dusk lighting, the game changes from this bright colorful environment, to a shadowy low light environment that only lights up certain spots of your face or weapon when engaging combat. Expressions on the characters are also eye catching, you can actually see the anger and desperation Shank has when emptying a clip of a weapon. The cut scenes combine cinema style with cartoon cuts to bring a very satisfying and appealing presentation.

Sound: Voice acting is top notch, while the Mexican guitar string themed music works perfect with the environment and overall story. Sound affects in the game are simple, yet satisfying enough to want to kill again. In addition to all the great sounds and music, Shank has its very own soundtrack to give your ears some more Shank! The soundtrack is well put together. You can download it here.

Wishes: I have 4 quick wishes:
• Wishing the game had online co-op mode.
• Wishing the game rewarded you with orbs or coins when killing the enemy; it would have made this game a lot more addicting and satisfying.
• Wishing the game was much longer; the story took me about 3 hours to complete. With a decent story and awesome gameplay and graphics, I want to see more of Shank!
• Due to the short gameplay, I really wish the game was $10 instead of $15.

Final Verdict: What can I say the game is good, no, it’s great! The longer the wishes are for our reviews the lower the score the game may receive at the end, and it if weren’t for those few wishes, I think I would have given this game a much higher score. Nevertheless, Shank really impressed me with its gruesome and machete style presentation, something rarely found in today’s games let alone an arcade game. The gameplay was good enough to keep me entertained, while the simple story was a highlight and a surprise in what I thought would be a strait forward hack and slash game. Shank gets 3 Michelas out of 5. (3 Michelas? What does this mean?) 3 Michelas is like drinking 3 of your favorite drinks, you feel relaxed, happy and ready to socialize. Not quite at the peak of your buzz, but definitely feeling good.

Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Developer: Klei Ent.
Publisher: EA
Metacritic Score: 71
MSRP: 1200 Microsoft points or $14.99

  • I played the PSN demo but just couldn’t get into it. Visually impressive, good voice acting, but it felt like a button-masher. Maybe I’m just not cut out for 2D platformer/shooters…

    I will say Machete DEFINITELY reminded me of this though. And good call on online co-op, maybe that’ll make an appearance in Shank 2.