The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Take the bloody action of a Tarantino flick, meld it with the best in action cartoons, overlay it with a fast-paced 2D brawler game mechanic, and you know what to expect out of Shank. With both a single-player and multiplayer campaign and plenty of unlocks, Shank cuts a bloody swath to establish an identity on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Shank is a wronged man. As the south-of-the-border single-player story starts, there’s not much else to go on. But wherever that anger comes from, it has him mowing down gang members with chainsaws and using shotguns to make his point. Something awful has happened to him and someone he loves, and the world will pay one way or another.The 2D action heats up from the very beginning, with gory battles against a teeming cartel of armed thugs. Combat is fast and fierce, and the amusing variety of devastating attacks and kill animations steal the show. Tight controls and a great combo system hit a bump due to some questionable button mapping, like the item pick-up button doubling as the main melee button. There are also a number of frustrating sequences involving poor enemy placement and bosses that take too many of the same patterned attacks to finish off. On the other hand, the challenge is high, which is ideal for gamers looking for a real fight.An entire second campaign is available to play cooperatively with a friend. Though many of the environments are reused, the enemy encounters and bosses are unique to each campaign, and the multiplayer plot provides the backstory to the larger single-player adventure you just finished.Shank suffers from too much repetition, even for a brawling fighter, but it gets high points for style and its gritty, dark subject matter. This is a game you can sink your teeth into and bask in its wild aggression.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.
Shank is unquestionably a stylish game, but aside from its strikingly crisp characters and excessively violent story there’s not much else to it. If you liked the first level, you’re sure to love the last one; aside from getting a few superficially different weapons, it’s the same repetitive grind from beginning to end. It’s a drag, because there’s a lot to like in the game. Combat is satisfying and flexible, allowing you to do things like tackle a goon, sit on his chest and pound his face in for a few seconds, chuck a grenade at another guy, and then resume your smacking. The boss fights rely on some clever gimmicks, though they absorb so much damage – particularly in multiplayer – that they last well past their expiration date. Overall, Shank is a flashy homage to exploitation flicks that wears out its welcome just a bit too early.