Shank 2 Interview

Shank 2 Interview

Our favorite ex-mob hitman, Shank has returned for another round of beat downs. Shank 2 is slated for release on February 7th for PSN and PC, and XBLA on February 8th. What score does he have to settle now? New game modes? We sat down with Jamie Cheng, founder of Klei Entertainment, to talk about Shank 2 expectations and the additions that have been made since Shank.

What can we expect from Shank 2?

What a broad question! The reason we built Shank 2 is because we felt that, although Shank broke new ground in animation and brawler combat, it was still fundamentally still really raw, and people had legitimate criticisms of it. We felt not only could we address the feedback in controls and pacing, we could evolve the brawler experience even more, and create new experiences. So things like being able to counter enemies, way more precise controls, and an online survival mode -- these are things that we’re really proud of in Shank 2.

How much time has passed since Shank and where do we find him?

Having taken his revenge on Cesar, the player finds Shank on his way home. However, all is not well at home, and he quickly finds himself in a new battle as an army has invaded his sanctuary.

Here’s a two parter: What kind of new villains will Shank have to face and have they changed much from Shank?

As usual, Shank 2 has crazy boss battles, but unlike the first, they’re designed to allow players to fight them in their own way. It’s much more about understanding the patterns of the bosses, and exploiting the openings when they come up. I won’t spoil the characters for you, though. That would be ruining it!

What kind of online functionality will there be with the co-op?

We’ve built an entirely new game mode called Survival Mode! Players choose between 16 different costumes, each with their own stat bonuses. We fight waves of enemies, earn cash, buy upgrades, and work together to protect their base. The game forces players to think strategically and cooperate, and it becomes a totally different experience than the core campaign. The mode is super co-operative, and is playable both online and locally.

In addition to new levels and weapons, what can we expect from combos and fatalities?

One of the best things we’ve added to Shank 2 is the ability to pick up weapons that other enemies drop, and use it against them. Pick up a frying pan and smash a guy into the ground, or perform a reversal on the guy’s hatchet. Being able to counter an enemy’s move really encourages finesse in your gameplay, and the added element of using the weapons in your environment gives you a ton more options.

Out of the many new combos and fatalities, any favorites?

Oh, it’s got to be taking another man’s pistol and firing it in his own face. Actually, stabbing the guy in the chest with a shovel is pretty fantastic, too.

How much fun was it to work with the brand new engine?

More than anything it was awesome to take the learnings of Shank 1 and apply them to the new engine -- the tools were tuned to the workflow and the team could just crank on development rather than fight with figuring out how to make things work.

A great new look, more blood and guts, more user control. What do you feel was the most important improvement?

User control by a long shot. In fact, from a marketing perspective we’re always pushed to name the features, but in the end, “features” don’t make a great game. Every single person we’ve shown the game to has noted that the controls are far more responsive, and that makes us extremely happy.

I really like the idea of the game being available on XBLA, PSN and Steam. Why do you prefer digital distribution over retail?

Oh that’s easy -- none of our games could have succeeded as a retail game. I started Klei to be able to create our own games and push the medium, and digital is the only way for us to do that. Did you know Klei was one of the first indies on Steam with our little game Eets? It’s been a great 6 years since then, and we have digital distribution to thank.