Review: Shank – Nave360

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Published on September 29th, 2010 | by Ben Gray

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Review: Shank

Release Date: 28 September 2010 Genre(s): Action and Adventure Publisher(s): EA Developer: Klei Entertainment Rating: Mature [Rating:5/10] Shank is brutal. There, you could sum up the majority of this game in one word, but I’m going to make it easier for you. This downloadable title has more blood and muscle than humanly possible, a side scrolling, hack and slasher that put the Shank in Shank. The story of Shank revolves around the character Shank, conveniently, and whilst I found it hard to follow at times, it seemed he was on a quest for bloody revenge. Shank is a man of few words, and prefers to convey his anger with his weapons rather than his speech, which is quickly evident when you reach your first encounter with the foe. The objective of Shank that carries through the vast majority of the game is this; kill a few foes, notch up on health, do some free running, face a tough-as-nails boss. Rinse and repeat and there’s Shank. It’s sad to see the game lacking any variation in objective design, but there you have it.

One thing that does have variation in Shank however, is combat. Having a choice of heavy, light and gun attacks, there are definitely plenty of combos and moves to try out, and picking the right attack for every situation is crucial in the later stages if you want to preserve precious health, however you find you can get a slight replenishment after each fight anyway. You are able to pick up various firearms and blades throughout the game, ranging from Shotguns to Butcher Knives, each having advantages and disadvantages, but nothing significant. It would have been nice to see an upgrade system for attacks and weapons based on kill count and combo execution. The art style of Shank is definitely it’s highlight, the bulky characters and the epic backdrops, the rundown cities and streets to the splatter of blood, these details make the game unique in its own way, and definitely fits the soundtrack of the game, which is also exceptional, and a blast to listen to not only whilst playing the game, but in general too, as the developers have kindly made the soundtrack available to download for free. The acoustic combined with the drums is a nice touch and blends in well with the rest of the game, a true fit that many games fail to achieve.

In contrast to my previous paragraph, the gameplay quickly becomes increasingly boring. The same formula is used throughout every level; kill enemies, face a boss, with some roaming parts in between. Enemies come in several shapes and sizes, from the flesh tearing hounds to the muscle toned thugs, and enemies that come somewhere in between. Most hordes of enemies can be disposed quickly, but I found myself resorting to the Shotgun a lot, as chipping away at their health using only light and heavy attacks seemed to be taking a lifetime. Then onto the bosses – boy, they are insanely hard, even on the easier difficulty. Despite dodging, you find yourself being tossed around the screen a lot, with little means of attack, simply waiting for the enemy to run into a wall or hook an object so you can tear a sizeable chunk out of its help. The formula is just too repetitive for my liking, and the same case applies to many side scrollers. As for replay value, Shank is lacking in that area. Once completing the fairly average length campaign, there isn’t much reason to play through again except to earn achievements for kill counts, as well as some nifty costumes, one of which is from DeathSpank, and the multiplayer campaign is pretty lacklustre and more importantly, does not support online play, which is a major downside and restricting you to play locally. Overall, Shank’s negatives unfortunately outweigh its positives, disappointing for a game with a brilliant concept. Whilst it has a great soundtrack and art style, repetitive gameplay, ridiculous bosses and a lack of replay value unfortunately make Shank a serious stab in your wallet for its 1200MSP price tag.

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