Friday, August 27, 2010

Shank: First Impressions

Yesterday I got my hands on Klei Entertainments mad side-scrolling beat 'em up SHANK.

Before I go on let me just mention that I am a massive fan of beat 'em ups; there's nothing I like more than zoning out and dealing a mess of death and carnage through wave after wave of enemies who all shop at the same store.

I still play Splatterhouse 2 every other afternoon just too see if I can finish it any faster. (25mins)

So when I heard about Shank and saw what it had in store about a year ago... to say that I was pretty damn excited would be an under-statement.

After months of following Twitter posts and development blogs, I finally got to play the damn game yesterday, and it was freaking awesome.

From the opening cut-scene to the awesome grind-house sound track (Downloadable here) and setting, Shank is a love letter to all things "action". Every Stallone movie, every Arnie pun... has prepared you for this game. And you get to live the action of those over the top movies that you grew up enjoying in glorious style and colour.

There have been a lot of comparisons between Shank and the movies of Directors Robert Rodriguez and Quieten Tarantino. Though the the game and these movies share the over the top action and characters, I see it more in line with the mock Grindhouse trailers they had put out with their movie Grindhouse.

The game looks like a Cartoon Network show on drugs, mind altering AWESOME drugs. The stylised visuals give way to a grim (granted a little shallow) plot that's enough of an excuse to spill some death.

... o and you will be spilling A lot of death.

Shank is a man out for vengeance on those that beat the crap out of him and had their way with his girlfriend. The story is told through both a single player and co-op campaign, which takes you on a frantic quest to take down the men who wronged you.

This is a bloody game; and even the said cartoon graphics don't do anything to take away from the sheer amount of violence and gore this game smacks into your face.

Shank is a monster with his his moves, as he slices, dices and shoots his way through a path of destruction that would have made the sensors crap their pants in the old days of Beat 'em ups.

And he does all this with such ease and delight thanks to Shanks user friendly controls. My GF was racking up 40 - 50 hit combos last night. But don't let this fool you, just cause the game is easy enough to get into, doesn't mean it's simple to master.

Yes you can just shoot stuff, or just grab people and stab em. But where's the fun in that?

Chaining together slices and gun shots is more rewarding when you mix it up with weapon switching and Shanks ferocious leaps. To some extent the combat is as mundane as YOU allow it to be.

It's up to you to use Shank's arsenal of weapons to kill shizz as entertainingly as you can.

You have three moves; which is a light Shank/shiv attack, a heavy slice attack and your equipped guns. As you gain new items you can switch between em through the D-pad.

So there's nothing more satisfying than slicing a baddie with a Machete (Heavy Slice) and then immediately switching that Machete to a Chainsaw to finish em off :D

If you have baddies keeping their distance, Shank can also leap at them with his pounce move, pinning them down thus allowing him to either stab the crap out of them, or my personal favourite, run a machete up along their belly, popping out at the head.

I am a sick bastard.

Slow-mos, zoom-ins and motion blur brings the in Shank to life

I've read some reviewers saying that the controls for Shank are not as responsive as they'd like it too be, I though it handled just fine.

Speaking of reviews, there are some out there that aren't too favourable towards the game, while there are even more out there that absolutely love it. As a fan of the genre, both the side-scrolling beat em up side of it, as well as the blood and violence, I can say that the game did not disappoint at all.

If the game does have any flaws, I couldn't see it through the awesomeness it puts out. Just looking at the details and the beautiful hand drawn graphics, you can tell that a lot of love went into making this game. As well as a lot of respect and appreciation for the source materiel.

I'm playing through this monster on Hard at the moment, and it is a killer. Because the baddies are badder and there aren't any save points. So if you die... you start at the beginning of the level. Which is better than the three lives limit you had back in the day, at the end of which you start at the beginning of the game.

But when you make it through a level in one bloody, flawless sweep of combos and death... the warm fuzzy feeling inside is sweet.

The outfits.Number 10 is DeathSpank

Towards the launch of the game, Klei Entertainment had put out Tweets on the many unlockable outfits that are in the game. I was immediately drawn to the Horror/Grind house outfit which is number 7 on the above list, and that was the first thing I set out to get as soon as I got the game. Which I did by killing a 100 guys with the Chainsaw.

It would have been cool if these outfits could be used to somehow customize your play style a bit. I remember a few years back there was a Spiderman game where you could get different outfits for Spidy, and they would enhance some aspect of the game. Like the symbiont costume I think gave him unlimited webbing.

Maybe in the Shank the Horror costume boosted like your Chainsaw damage or something, or the "Bruce Lee" yellow jumpsuit made you leap further, or the Ninja suit extended the time between hits to allow longer combos... nothing too major, but just a little something to make it beyond a cosmetic up-grade.


Shank is an awesome game, and I barely tore myself away to write this blurg about it. It's definitely a nice little something to hold me over till I get my hands on the Splatterhouse remake in October.

I'm looking froward to playing the co-op campaign this weekend with my buddy Al... it's gonna be so damn sweet!

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