There is something very special about Shank for me, probably stemming from my fond memories of Double Dragon and Final Fight. But this isn’t the first 2D brawler to come to the current gen consoles, so what makes this different?
To start with let’s take a look at the game’s visuals, it’s an almost perfect art style with a solid amount of character to it. All you need to know about Shank’s story is told in the grimace of the lead protagonists face – “shit just got real!”
Shank’s moment to moment gameplay also pans out like you’d expect, walking left to right taking on gangs of bad guys with a few tasty boss battles in between and with a smattering of platforming. Things starts out simple with light and heavy attacks combined with a selected firearm and the well used evade move (you’ll be using this a lot). It is at this point where you’ll either continue to enjoy Shank like I did, or get frustrated and admit defeat.
The art style and animation which portrays almost perfect combat transitions can also be its major down fall. Imagine controlling Shank as he fights through two skin heads, tears through an eight foot biker with his chainsaw before marching across the screen guns blazing as a few dogs start to lunge. You’re mid-animation you realise that perhaps if you were to evade, you could counter with an uzi and a few grenades – nope, too late.
It may sound like a tiny gripe, but I found myself blaming the – admittedly incredible – animation when I did badly. This system doesn’t take long to adapt to, until you find another weapon, as all in all on the fly I was able to select between three guns and four heavy melee weapons (which have different effects against different enemies) and consequently I never felt quite at one with the combat system until the very end.
Once I had battled through to the last few levels and final boss battle, everything came together and I was able to quickly assess each encounter and know what weapon would see me through the best. Which is why, once the game was over, I was left wanting more, perhaps a little more than just an additional difficulty level…
Although the end can come in less than four hours, the prologue of the story can be played with a friend by your side in a whole separate co-op story. Not only do you get to see a little more of Shank’s brutal story unfold, but twice the action on screen makes for twice the enjoyment, not to mention two character specific combat situations and boss battles.
For what can feel like a short experience, I would have dropped well over the £10 asking price going through Double Dragon in the arcades and I got the same feeling as that felt here. There is a demo available as always and I strongly suggest you go check it out. Just remember to persevere if things feel a little ‘shanky’.
MLG Rating: 8/10
Platform: Xbox 360 (Playstation 3) Release Date: 24/08/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Shank for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of three days on an Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.