Developed by Klei Entertainment, the hack and slash side scroller is back with more enemies, blood and a better combat system. As with our interview with Klei’s founder, Jamie Cheng, we delve more into the mechanics of the side scroller and discover the new experiences within Shank 2. Directly following the first Shank, we find Shank back home where more trouble makes his return bittersweet. The Militia led by Magnus, who is suffering from a weak heart and only has days to live, is taking over drug cartels and killing villagers to gain more power and position. While trouble keeps stirring, Shank runs into his ex-girlfriend, Carina who attempts to convince to join the resistance and fight for the villagers. He refuses but later finds out his former orphanage has been destroyed and Linda has been kidnapped. Will Shank be forced to join up with the resistance to rescue Linda and stop Magnus in time?
In single player mode, you have a choice of picking normal or hard. The difference is really if you want to spend time hacking away at one guy rather than being able to quickly dispatch each one. Then, you select a loadout from the available primary, secondary, thrown weapons, and characters, which are unlockable throughout the game. Traveling on a bus, you are stopped short of your destination and as one guard decided to question you. You suddenly get the feeling that you should get rid of him first before he gets you. As the hacking ensues, you can use a variety of combinations to get your score up and mow down enemies. The fighting got a bit predictable and somewhat repetitive throughout each level. The majority of the enemies on each level have the same kind of attack. The gun wielding attackers move away from you as you try to slash them and choose to be up on the 2nd level to shoot at you. However, the Amazonian women changed up the fighting with their somersaults and elusive jumping.
Use different moveable props to beat up a crowd or one of the bigger enemies. You have the ability to pick up dropped weapons and continue to hack through the crowd of enemies by pressing R1 on PS3. The movement does not slow you down since you can use your secondary weapons to stun the enemies that are already approaching you. At the end of each level, you have to fight a boss in order to clear it. Many of the bosses make it difficult to walk around, such as Inferno who, by namesake, has an obsession with fire. You can wound the boss a few times and get an opportunity for a mini cutscene to give more damage. Once you beat the boss, you are given a final cutscene where Shank “finishes” them off and given your time and score received for passing the level.
With the survival co-op mode, you make your way through waves upon waves of enemies that are attempting to destroy caches. You are given an opportunity in between waves to shop and buy bottles of health or other items. Normally working as a team plays into your survival, and this game is no different so don’t be a health hog and share your health-booze. The longer you survive, the harder the enemies become. Watch out for the smaller guys that throw explosives, they’re super sneaky and wily. The same loadouts in the single player campaign are available in survival mode as well as the other characters you’ve unlocked. I had a hard time finding a match for survival mode for the first few days of the release and was relieved that my time was not wasted. Although I suck at multi-player, I had fun keeping up with my co-op partner as we helped each other out with health and money we would collect to buy more items.
The overall cartoon look of the game has been polished up and the usual bloodshed wasn’t overdone. The enemies looked more daunting and I enjoyed destroying the props, because it didn’t feel completely stationary. The scenery and areas you are fighting in change up and don’t leave you on a repetitive landscape. There is a variety of areas to venture through, such as the Amazon, villages, forest, docks and a factory. I didn’t feel bored with the look of it and it actually helped with my frustration of losing and dying so quickly when I was playing the Hard mode.
Hacking and slashing is definitely fun stuff. However, the fun can easily turn into frustration as you keep trying to beat the same boss over and over again. All the while, you know that the boss is laughing at you, almost mocking you as you press triangle to switch up your loadout. The gameplay slowly builds up your frustration tolerance and within a week of playing in a frequency of one or two hours a day, you notice you’re a little nicer until someone asks you “what have you been gaming?” That’s when all hell breaks loose and you find yourself beating them up with a chair. Actually, none of that ever happened; I just ended up taking out my frustration on my TV by yelling at it after dying 4 times in a row.
With the additions and improvements, you can actually enjoy slicing up a few of the enemies for a while and attempt to enjoy the story line. The user controls are a lot smoother and allow you to pick up a weapon or melee with separate buttons. Shank’s movements seem more fluid and you can quickly find yourself getting trophies or achievements for combos. I enjoyed the gameplay rather than the actual story. Other than pure frustration that I felt, I didn’t think the story was strong enough for the actual gameplay. Overall, it’s a great game to play and if you haven’t tried out the original Shank, I’d suggest you play that first and get a feel for the story and see if it meshes for you.