If Shank 2 was anymore enjoyable as a 2D action/platforming juggernaut of brutal and bloody mayhem, convincing me that for only $9.99 action fans weren’t literally stealing from Klei Entertainment would be impossible. Shank 2 has been given the sequel upgrade that wastes no time throwing you back into the action with new incentives to you keep you coming back for more as soon as the main campaign is completed.
In Shank 2 we find the former hitman, Shank returning home after a dark and vengeful past, looking for a more calm and peaceful state which is quickly interrupted by the new order ruled by Magnus, the leader of the ruling militia which has only replaced the scum with more firepower and attitude.
Much like the original Shank, non-stop action is at the heart of Shank 2, but in a much more glorified fashion. Expanding on the original game’s intuitive combat and control system, Shank 2 continues Klei’s tradition of making fluid brawling controls and stunningly beautiful visuals that eclipses the competition in the 2D side-scrolling genre. Reuniting fans with the same control mechanics, Shank 2 has been infused with a smoother control feel this time around which seamlessly blends tight combos and kill maneuvers. Tap the right toggle left or right and Shank rolls out of harms way, tap the bottom-left bumper and Shank pounces his nearest enemy like a hungry leopard. Tap (y) or (triangle) depending on your console of choice and Shank utilizes his brutal heavy weapon and if your timing is right, counter maneuvers can be executed slowing down the gameplay giving you an up close and personal look at some of the coolest execution kills in the platforming genre.
Counter attacks are awesome and performed as Shank grabs an enemy just when the red exclamation mark (!) has flashed over the enemies head. Counter kills which Shank can perform consist of breaking the necks of the larger enemies, brutally thrusting his machete into the face of his enemies, quickly getting behind his enemy and exploding their head with the shotgun or pistol to the back of the head and if that doesn’t get you excited how about forcing a baseball bat down the enemies mouth followed by stuffing it down further with his foot. This is one bad DUDE! Because of the games addictive nature, players may find that the better you master Shank and all his aggressive abilities, the better the experience becomes. I must be a sick person.
Fans of old school retro boss battles will fall in love with Shank 2 as boss battles have a nice place in the Shank reality. As with many original boss battles, you must find and follow the patterns of the main boss while sometimes having the deal with the annoying boss minions who will oftentimes impede on your success. During some boss battles when you find you have the upper-hand, instead of adding a more traditional quick time event sequence, Klei opted to adds an eye-popping action cut-scene which mirrors the games progressive cutscenes, then throws you right back into the gameplay action. You have to experience it as it offers a great action-cinematic touch.
Despite dying often when fighting the games more difficult bosses, I never wanted to put down the controller. All the boss battles varied which offers a unique blend in how you approach each new threat. Mini-bosses are mainly steroid induced grunts or overweight and sometimes out of breathe grunts who are able to grab, charge and drop their fat gut on top of you as they take to the sky hoping to flatten you. From regular military grunts sporting knives and guns, bigger enemies inflicting more damage to battling woman in bikinis or even nurses with sai blades or even the annoying cat-like quick midget enemies, Shank has his hands full, but of course this is nothing he can’t handle.
The games campaign consists of eight chapters all of which are unique offering a beautifully detailed 3D rendered background making each chapter locale appear believable in it’s artful comic setting. Shank 2 completely jumps at you from within what seems like a graphic novel come to life. Bringing it all together as mentioned before, Klei bridges each chapter with great cut-scenes driving the story forward.
Eventually you are introduced to Corina, Shanks childhood friend from the orphange they grew up in who also becomes a playable character who is more swift and agile than Shank. While Shank can wield his handy machete or trusted chainsaw, Corina can sport a ninja sword or scythe. Players wanting to feel a bit more elusive will enjoy the use of Corina on the killing field of course. There are also unlockables and other gameplay incentives such as acquiring new skins to help add to your Shank bravado. Unlockables are accessible when certain gameplay achievements are accomplished such as downing sixty enemies with counter pistols kills or twenty counter baseball bat kills. By completing the campaign on normal or hard, the games only two difficulties, players are also rewarded access to those skin specific unlockables.
There are also unlockable which can only be accessed by performing specific feats in the games added new online and offline cooperative survival mode. In survival mode players work together to down enemies in an effort to keep them from blowing up supply stations. Enemies come at you in waves and the longer you survive the tougher the enemies thrown at you become. Once both of you are dead or your supply stations are destroyed it’s game over. Thankfully survival mode doesn’t feel tacked on and plays as a great added incentive to keep you playing long after you’ve completed the campaign.
Klei Entertainment has packed Shank 2 with all the great gameplay you remember for the original Shank with a dose of ‘BETTER’ on all fronts. While I would have liked a longer campaign, for only $9.99 I’m still scratching my head at the experience. With the added Carlos Santana like soundtrack I need in my ride, Shank 2 raises the bar for the 2D action/platforming genre in a big way. Easily one of the best action DLC titles in recent years.