Shank Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Shank box art
System: PS3, X360, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Klei Entertainment 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Electronic Arts 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Aug. 24, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Making matters worse are the game’s inconsistencies that serve to aggravate you, cause you to take unnecessary damage, or even lead to your immediate death. First off, Shank seems completely incapable of aiming a gun directly above his head. Later in the game, levels will have enemies positioned on platforms above your head that you’re unable to reach, with gunfire being the only solution to this problem.

Shank screenshot

Rather than standing beneath the foe and shooting straight up, you’ll have to run across the screen and shoot diagonally in order to take them out. Another major headache comes for some of the game’s platforming. The jumping in Shank isn’t forgiving, often failing you if you are anything more than just a bit off with your timing or positioning. This is further upsetting later in the game when you’ll be required to face a plethora of platforming challenges that have small windows of opportunity and even smaller margins for error.

Still, the worst offender in Shank is the wonky dodge maneuver. The game will often require you to dodge in order to take out specific enemies or even just to avoid taking otherwise inescapable damage. However, the problem with this is you’ll never know if it is actually going to work correctly. One time, you may successfully sidestep an incoming attack, the next, you may get plowed into as though you weren’t aware of it. I’m not sure if it is a problem of distance, timing, technique, or a combination of these elements, all I know is I have attempted to dodge the same attacks the same way multiple times and the results are hit-and-miss. In fact, it frequently felt like the game just didn’t want me to succeed, given that I had already successfully performed these dodges several times in the exact same situations before.

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These issues aside, Shank is also a short title. The game has two different campaigns, a single-player and a co-op, but both experiences are over far too quickly. The single-player campaign tells the story of Shank’s revenge and only takes about three hours to beat. On the other hand, the co-op campaign delivers the backstory of why Shank is seeking payback and is even shorter than the single-player adventure. While this is an interesting idea, playing both back to back (single-player first since that is the mode in which you can unlock the additional weapons) will probably take you less than five hours. Of course, if you grow as tired of the repetition and inconsistencies as I did, this shorter length may just be for the best.

While Shank has a great visual style, an interesting story to tell, and plenty of over-the-top violence, the gameplay is extremely repetitive, has some aggravating issues, and is over far too soon. Shank’s experience isn’t completely without merit, as hacking and blasting your way through hordes of nameless goons can be fun, but it gets stale rather quickly. If you’re looking for a mindless beat ‘em up, you could definitely do worse than Shank. However, if you’re looking for a lengthy and varied brawler, you will want to look elsewhere.

By Adam Brown
CCC News Director

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.3
Graphics
Shank’s visual style is enjoyable and reminiscent of the Samurai Jack cartoon.
3.0
Control
While not completely broken, you’ll frequently find yourself wondering why you can’t aim straight up, make certain jumps, or dodge attacks consistently.
3.6
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is fitting and the quality of the voice work is good.
2.9
Play Value
While Shank can be fun, it is also repetitive, inconsistent, and over far too quickly.
3.2
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Violent graphic novel art style: Step into a graphic novel with the most fluid and violent 2-D animation ever seen in a video game.
  • Weapon-based combo system: String together endless combos of mayhem and destruction on the fly and pummel your opponents to the ground using an exhaustive arsenal of weapons.
  • Gritty pulp cinematic experience: Using professionally animated cut scenes interspersed with gritty pulp-style story points, Shank tells a tale of guilt, redemption, and revenge in a way never before seen on Xbox LIVE Arcade, PSN, and PC.


  • Screenshots / Images
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