We Check Out Klei's Bloody Brawler
by Meagan Marie on Mar 01, 2010 at 05:10 AM
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Rating: Mature
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

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A bloody, fast-paced and stylish brawler, Shank is about as beautiful as they come. Sketchy and subdued 2D environments are contrasted by vivid and exaggerated character design that feel freshly ripped from a graphic novel. Both elements are combined in a kitschy western setting, rife with gritty outlaws waiting for their just desserts.

Gameplay is all about being fast and fluid. The core mechanic allows the player to swap weapons mid combo. Protagonist Shank can shuffle between a fierce blade, dual firearms, a shotgun, grenades and even a chainsaw as the situation calls for it. In one scenario Shank's lightning fast hands repeatedly slash away at an enemy in close range, swapping to the shotgun in the blink of an eye to halt approaching allies. Free to resume his bladed brutality, a grapple combo finishes off his targeted foe.

Animations and combat look smooth as silk as Shank fights his way through the dusty desert town. Light traversal mechanics move Shank from one brawl to the next, running, jumping and scaling walls to reach the rooftops of the empty town. The static environments never feel listless. Instead the camera pans in and out as action dictates, shaking when Shank lands a particularly brutal blow.

In one noteworthy section of the demo, the camera pulls backwards quickly as Shank crosses a suspended bridge, met by resistance on the other side. Here all the characters become silhouetted against the blazing sun – a powerful and cinematic moment that stuck with us. It’s attention to detail like this that makes the player feel a part of the carefully crafted world Klei Entertainment is so proud of.

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