Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Recapturing the youthful innocence of slaughtering bad guys
If you were to tally up the number of henchmen and lackeys the average gamer has sent packing on a one-way trip to Hades, we’d all be found guilty of multiple digital genocides. And yet innovations like curb stomps and headshots have failed to make act of onscreen murder retain its dissipating gory gusto. Maybe that’s because games have been getting too dang complicated, emphasizing story or action. Although Shank’s plot is clipped winkingly from Kill Bill, and it’s got its share of intentionally cheesy writing (“Forgive me father, for I am about to sin,” says a gun-toting Shank in a confession booth), it’s still basically like Streets Of Rage in that you press start, walk right, and start pummeling dudes.
And balls-out pugilism is where Shank’s emphasis clearly lies. You’ll face down strippers using their poles as weapons, leather-wearing furry-lovers, huge guys named Brock, battering-ram-wielding guys in formal attires, and attack dogs. Your arsenal is just as varied and inspired, with machetes, uzis, shotguns, and katanas easily switchable on the fly. With a handful of buttons, Shank enables you to feel like an unstoppable badass—and that hitting a button is just like pulling a trigger. Somehow it just never gets old as you sink the 650-some fools that stand between you and the game’s end.