Shank is a side-scrolling beat-em-up brawler, new to the Xbox Live Arcade title from Klie Entertainment. It looks great and plays well, but comes up a little shallow.
In Shank you're on a mission to, stop me if you've heard this, save the girl and take revenge. You're equipped with an arsenal of weapons including guns, bombs, a chainsaw and a gatling gun or two. The gameplay is a pretty straight forward set of button mashing and combos that allow you to do different things such as pounce on an enemy, stab him once or twice, shoot him in the head with a shotgun, and then chainsaw him, in the face. They work fairly well with the occasional hiccup but it's one of the game's strong points. There's lots of options and variety in the combat, and it's fun to work your way around the enemies' weak points or if you're feeling lazy you can just hit them with a grenade and move on.
While there was nothing inherently wrong with the combat system, it quickly becomes tedious and repetitive, and I found the game started relying more on frustrating you with tricky over-complicated situations rather than throwing something new at you. It's fun to go crazy beating the living crap out of everyone and everything you come across and knocking off 100 hit or more combos, and some fun and challenging boss fights, but there's only so much of that I can do.
The style of the game is fantastic and the story, while maybe cliche was clever, interesting and at times good for a laugh or two. Shank is a cross between a grainy old movie and a comic book, and it pulls it off well. Throw in some trash talking, cursing and a lot of blood, and you've got what Shank has going for it. As I mentioned, the get revenge and save the girl story line is over done, but it doesn't take away from the game at all. It's got enough to help keep you chugging along through the aforementioned tedium and frustration to find out what happens next.
The co-op mode is probably the most disappointing part of Shank to me. Two near-identical characters laying the smack down all over the screen quickly becomes confusing, chaotic and not all that fun. Piled on top of the repetitive issues already mentioned, after playing through the single player the co-op is forgettable if not ignorable.
Shank is sure to have its fans, and it's not an outright bad game. Fans of beat-em-ups should find a lot of ass kicking to do, though at the 1200 point price tag, its not something most players are going to be looking for, especially considering the other options in the Arcade catalog at the same price. If you try the demo, and you're having fun it's worth playing through it, just realize the game isn't going to give you much more than that outside the story, its just more of the same.
The Way I See It: Promising and good lookin' but lacks depth and value