Shank on the Xbox 360 is a delightfully brutal action packed hack-and-slash video game
- Excellent 2D animation, decently challenging single-player campaign, deliciously violent combat, narrative is a good mix of serious and ridiculous, although the dialogue can get pretty cheesy
- Irritating control issues, completely uneven boss battles, somewhat short on features and content, two-player co-op makes all the game's little technical flaws stand out like a huge sore thumb.
A delightfully brutal and expertly animated hack-n-slasher, Shank is an action-packed experience, but still suffers from irritating control issues and a short playtime.
Games like Shank don't come around often enough. Sometimes, violence for the pure sake of violence makes a great way to pass an afternoon, and Klei Entertainment's Shank will easily burn a few hours off an idle day. As a pure hack-and-slash experience, this game offers exactly what it promises, and although it suffers from some irritating design flaws, you can't really argue with a game that lets you run a chainsaw through an evil pro wrestler's sternum.
Shank, the titular hero of the game, wouldn't be out of place in a bar fight with Kratos. He bludgeons, bleeds, and bashes his enemies to death without breaking much of a sweat, furled by a thirst for revenge against the people who killed his girlfriend. Where the God of War carries a utility belt full of mythical artifacts, Shank gets by on more practical weapons like knives, grenades, machine guns, chains, and machetes. Each armament in Shank's artillery is fun to use, and the game does a good job of continually mixing things up level after level. Just when you start to tire of your standard pistols, a shotgun or katana drops into your lap at the just the right time.
However, the real trick is using all the different weapons together in proper sync. Personally, I found the chainsaw and shotgun to be the best combination for most encounters -- and the best way to overcome Shank’s somewhat sloppy hit detection. Given that the game is a 2D hack-and-slash title, I expect a certain amount of hiccups in the combat, but Shank thankfully keeps things tight enough that I don’t feel terribly cheated when unexpectedly ploughed over by the oversized enemies.
Shank's outrageous boss battles are where the game really shines: they're huge, difficult, and require a surprising amount of strategy. Even after repeatedly dying at the hands of the behemoth bosses, I didn't really mind biting the big one, since I was actually having fun trying out different tactics for each encounter -- violent animations and gruesome quick-time events make even the losing battles really enjoyable experiences.
Still, it's a little telling that Shank favours style and flashy action over fine-tuning. Huge enemies will barrel roll right at you in tight corridors to cheaply whittle down your health, while minor foes are easily dispatched by standing on the opposite side of the screen and letting loose with your gun of choice. Even worse, trying to save health items (beer) until you really need them is near impossible since you pick up items with the melee button. So, if you're in the middle of ten vicious gang members and you accidentally stray too far to one side of the screen, you'll often waste a precious beer on a full health bar.
In the single-player game, all these minor annoyances aren't much of a problem. It only takes a level or two before you're able to work around the rough edges and slay evil gang members without making critical mistakes. But in the two-player co-op mode, every small problem becomes a massive obstacle. Sadly, this effects the boss battles the most -- even on "Normal," they're insanely cheap, with the game barely providing you any room to dodge or anticipate attacks. Even worse, it seems like these fights are balanced with the game assuming that both players are dedicated experts. But if one of you isn't up to the task, you'll be on the receiving end of several hopeless (and frustrating) beatdowns.
But overall, Shank is nonetheless entertaining throughout. With dialogue and voice acting that tries way too hard to be serious and gritty, the whole thing comes off as B-movie camp, which makes the protagonist's story (and the co-op prequel) much easier to enjoy. In particular, I really appreciated Shank's art style -- the animation and character design are top notch, and could easily be used to produce a standalone TV or Internet series. Although the solo game is incredibly short (I finished it in 3 hours flat), the co-op is so difficult that you'll probably get your money's worth just by grinding through the murderously unfair bosses.
Despite my gripes, Shank is a badass game. It could've done with a little more content (maybe a boss rush mode?), but it's a hack-and-slash murderfest that can easily stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Castle Crashers and Scott Pilgrim.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Google Daydream VR headset
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® Portable SSD
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Acer Swift 7
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
HP Pavilion x360 13”
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Surface Pro 4
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- 2 ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?
- 3 Oppo R9s smartphone full review
- 4 Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
- 5 Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: Phones just got smarter
Latest News Articles
- You can download Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes for iOS and Android today
- Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes looks sharp, but will it survive the freemium transition?
- Nintendo's bringing Super Mario Run to Android in March, but Fire Emblem's coming first
- The Switch is a mix of Nintendo's past consoles
- Dead Rising 4 impressions: 'Tis the season to BBQ zombies with your flaming sword
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- Time to ditch Foxtel and the iQ3: How to replace Foxtel packages with cheaper alternatives
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- CCDevops Consultant - 12 month contractVIC
- FTSupport Analyst / Production Support - InformaticaNSW
- FTPrincipal Architect - Infrastructure | Major BankVIC
- TPBusiness AnalystACT
- CCTelecommunication Operations SpecialistTAS
- FTSenior Software Engineer - JavaQLD
- CCSAP Consultant - SAP Native HANA to DesignWA
- FTJunior Software Engineer - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)VIC
- TPBusiness Process Analyst (Newcaslte Based)NSW
- TPTest AnalystQLD
- FTBusiness AnalystNSW
- TPOrganisational Change Manager | Enterprise Information SharingQLD
- TPScrum MasterVIC
- CCSolution Architect - Financial applicationsVIC
- FTSenior Business AnalystNSW
- CCFinance Analyst/ Project SpecialistVIC
- FTData AnalystQLD
- TPDatabase Integration SpecialistVIC
- FT.Net DeveloperVIC
- CCFront End DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior Business Project ManagerNSW
- TPIT Project CoordinatorVIC
- FTProject / Implementation Coordinator (Junior-Mid Level) Sunshine Coast LocationQLD
- CCSenior Project Coordinator - Banking/Financial ServicesNSW
- FTOnline Solutions AnalystNSW