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Platform

PC

Genre

Action

Publisher

Electronic Arts

Developer

Klei Entertainment

ESRB

M (Mature)

Released

February 7, 2012

 

 

- Great comic book design
- Relatively deep combat system
- Doesn't overstay its welcome
- Survival Mode is a good co-op experience

 

 

- Keyboard and mouse control renders the game a frustrating mess

 

 

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Shank 2

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

alienware m18xThere's a certain level of nostalgia at work in Shank 2. All those 2D and 3D side-scrolling beat 'em ups from the days when arcades dominated the gaming scene are somehow encapsulated in Shank 2, a violent cartoon world filled with shot-gunned nonsense and sharp pointy things.

There's a story happening in the background of Shank 2 but the main attraction is the great "twitch and timing" of the combat, which demands attention when trying to string attacks together and fight against (often) overwhelming odds where the titular Shank has to balance attacks against different types of enemies. There are enemies shooting from afar, charging enemies, armored enemies, animal enemies, so there's a constant need to reassess each encounter dynamically as the game progresses. Button mashing will

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not result in anything but another display of the "you died" screen.

Racking up points with brilliant combo strings provides a certain level of satisfaction, but it can take a while to get good. And on occasion a single misstep can result in a combo string being broken, not to mention a quick death. And that goes double for playing with the keyboard and mouse,

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where fumbling inaccuracies might result in a busted mouse and/or keyboard thanks to the high frustration the fumbling the causes. With a gamepad the frustration mostly goes away. There are still moments of righteous anger as some bit of vital information gets lost in the visuals -- the Molotov, for instance, or the quick exclamation points that indicate Shank should execute a counter -- and that shattered skull and crossbones appears again.

 

shank 2          shank 2


Shank 2's campaign is over before it wears out its welcome. The repetitive nature of beat 'em ups tends to wear on a player's desire to keep playing. Near the end of the campaign, players get to choose a different character, but she's not much different than Shank.

The co-op Survival mode makes for a great little pick-up game to play for a half-dozen rounds if the campaign feels tired or a player might just want to practice outside the rigors of the single-player campaign.

 

shank 2          shank 2

 

This writer is glad that games like Shank 2 still get made. While the nostalgia of the genre is there, the developers were sure to make the combat fun and varied enough so there wasn't a mashable way to charge through the game. No, it's almost a science chainsawing dudes or impaling them with their own machetes.

- Aaron Simmer

(February 21, 2012)

 

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