Humble Indie Bundle 7 ReviewGuest_Jim_* - January 2, 2013
» Discuss this article (4)
Shank 2 Review:
According to Steam I have only put 1.6 hours into Shank 2 thus far, which may not seem like much, but aside from going in depth on the story (which would be silly to do for this game), this is enough to give one a good sense of the game. Simply put, Shank 2 is an action game. It has a story but that is not why you, or most anyone else is going to play it. You are going to play it to crush enemies beneath shipping containers and rip jaws out of sharks in a cartoon animation.
Naturally there are different kinds of action games and this one is something of a side-scrolling brawler. From left to right you traverse the terrain to pick up supplies for the fight you are about to walk into. Initially you see just one kind of enemy armed with a melee weapon, but soon you will find enemies with guns, grenades, and skills that prevent you from just button-mashing them to death.
In your armament, which quickly grows to keep pace with your adversaries', are heavy weapons such as a machete and chainsaw, and ranged weapons including throwing knives and guns (with unlimited ammo). Of course it would not be an action game without grenades, and in this game you can also equip Molotov cocktails and mines, depending on your mood. Don't worry if these weapons are not enough to interest you because most enemies so far drop their weapons upon death, which you can then pick up and use until you kill the next enemy for its weapon.
Shank is not just a weapons master though as his dodge and jumps will have him crossing the battlefield quickly, while avoiding attacks and closing distance. Once close enough to an enemy you may grab that enemy to attack or throw at others, which can be amusing as the bodies bounce around causing a chain reaction. Alternatively you may use a well animated counter attack when near your opponent. Counters can have you kicking bats through heads or shooting heads off, depending on the enemy and their weapon.
I would never describe myself as an action gamer, so my judgment on the difficulty of the game may be skewed, but that is not going to stop me from telling you what I think. Except for some boss fights, the difficulty balance seems pretty good, with perhaps a bias above my skill level. During boss fights though it can be quite hard, but that seems to mainly depend on two things: the number of other enemies to fight and the availability of alcohol to heal with. At least if you die the game is actually quite forgiving. Checkpoints are pretty frequent and you always respawn with a grenade, so you don't have to walk far to blow up your enemies.
Along with the Campaign mode, is a survival mode where you protect piles of munitions from being destroyed by an enemy that puts bombs on them. If you cannot disrupt the enemy as he installs the bomb you are able to disarm it, but this requires you are not hit and interrupted by an enemy. Good thing there are three piles. There is also online and local co-op play for survival mode and, unlike in the campaign, you have access to all of the weapons you can equip from the loadout screen. However, what skins you can use are limited and must be unlocked, just like in the campaign.
There are a variety of collectables including character profiles and memos, as well as a leaderboard for your score, to keep you coming back for more (as well as the gamer that beats your high score). Of course if you enjoy action-brawlers, you will probably come back anyway to pass the time with blood and gore.
The soundtrack is very fitting for the game with its brisk tempo constantly driving the music forward, at one layer or another. At times the layers sound like the composer was trying to give it a more epic sound but ultimately kept it more reserved, which is fitting for the intense but straightforward gameplay. I do enjoy this music and could work to it, but I have other music I would listen to first. It is good but my collection has better.
Does Shank 2 alone make the bundle worth it? Hard for me to say, given my lack of interest in action games, and not yet knowing how long the campaign lasts. Of course this game was obviously designed with replay in mind given the collectables and survival mode. Overall though, if you think you could enjoy an action-brawler and are on the fence about getting Humble Indie Bundle 7, you can let this game sway you to spending the money. It, at the very least, is a good blood-soaked diversion, though probably not something to play at the office.