Shank 2 Review (XBLA)

Game: Shank 2
Genre: Beat em’up
System: Xbox 360 (XBLA)
Review By: MrB4

Sequels are a tricky thing. Developers will either try to improve on what they’ve already created in order to make a better experience for everyone, or they will take a crack at a new idea that will either become a huge success, or an utter failure. Thankfully, Shank 2 has decided to go with the former instead of the latter. This sequel improves upon its predecessor in just about every way imaginable, and is definitely one of the more competent beat ’em ups on the downloadable market today. Let’s take a look.

Story: Shank has gone on vacation to South America, but things aren’t what they seem. Without warning, a friend of his is captured by an unfriendly dictatorship type military regime, and it’s now up to our hero to save his friend, along with the inhabitants of the country. The story itself is bland and predictable, but it does enough to keep the player invested throughout the entire experience. Basically, it’s just a simple setup that keeps things moving along at a brisk pace, and that’s all I really need.

Gameplay: Everything feels tighter and  more responsive this time around, which is thanks to the overhauled control system.  Dodging enemy attacks has now been adapted into a simple movement of the right analog stick, and the new counter moves feature makes battling large groups of enemies easier to deal with. As far as your original attacks go, not much has changed, and to be perfectly honest with you, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The platforming can still be a little clunky at times, but for the most part it works out okay. Boss fights have been revamped as well because now they tend to rely more on quick reaction times and skill than just performing one quicktime event after another, and I really appreciate that.

Graphics: Klei has hit the mark in this category once again because the beautifully hand drawn art style gives this games a personality all its own. Level designs are filled to the brim with an extreme of amount of detail and imagination. The cutscenes in particular are done with such flair and tenacity that you think you’re watching a violent over-the-top slasher movie instead of a video game. Character animations aren’t too shabby either, and they have a certain amount of personality to them as well. Throw in a consistent frame rate and you have the makings of a truly beautiful game.

Sound: A solid presentation on all fronts. The background music wasn’t perfect by any means, but it did set the tone for a number of situations throughout the game so there really isn’t that much to complain about. Sound effects packed quite a punch as expected, especially when it came to hearing the horrific deaths of your opponents over and over again, dear god were they brutal. The voice acting was cheesy as ever, so don’t expect to be blown away by anybody’s performance because it just won’t happen.

Replayability: The single player campaign will probably take most experienced gamers about two hours to complete, but don’t worry, there’s enough to do outside of the main quest to keep you coming back to this title for quite awhile. You can go online with a friend and take a shot at the survival mode, try to unlock different characters, weapons, and upgrades, gather different intel logs scattered throughout each stage in single player, and so on. Add in a leaderboard feature, along with specific medals to acquire, and there are more than enough reasons to play through this experience more than once.

Shank 2 shows that developers can learn from their mistakes and is without a doubt an entertaining experience that any beat ’em up fan can enjoy. Download it now.

Final Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Shank 2
Developer:  Klei Entertainment
Publisher: EA
Metacritic: 77
MSRP: 800 MSP ($10.00)