The Good: Beautiful art style, gory combat, fun boss fights
The Bad: Monotonous combat, sluggish controls, repetitive level design, extremely short, mediocre story
Shank is an artistically stunning game about a man named Shank (voiced by the same man who voiced Kratos in God of War) who is trying to get revenge on the death of his girlfriend. It doesn't quite go according to plan, but he heads for the people responsible anyways. The game has gory melee combat with a tad bit of platforming. The game can be beaten in less than 4 hours, but by the end you will have wished it ended long before that.
The combat consists of light attacks (your shank), heavy attacks (weapons that are picked up like the chainsaw, katana, chains, and machetes), as well as three different guns for distance combat. You can toss grenades to clear crowds, but that's pretty much all there is to the combat. There really aren't any combos to learn, or gain, which is a shame because by the end of the first couple of levels you will get bored with the combat. There are problems despite the hacking being fast paced. Some times the controls will feel a bit sluggish when trying to counter people behind you, and when you get knocked back you can get bounced around by multiple enemies with no way to get back up until it stops. This really frustrated me throughout the game. I always felt like I wasn't 100% in control of Shank. Even some of the weapons had problems like the shotgun only firing a couple of rounds, but then he puts the gun away and during this animation you are vulnerable. The problem is you're not even done shooting it so he has to take it back out. Things like this crop up while you are playing, and by the end you just have had enough. There is some minor platforming, but it's not very challenging and feels like just some lame filler content.
One major issue was that the health pick-up button was the light attack button. Who's bright idea was this? During boss fights this poses a real problem when you are trying to conserve health and then you accidentally use light attack near the pick-up and drink it. Other than this other problems consist of repetitive boss fights, but the few that are different are the only things that break up the monotony. The visuals change between levels, but other than that you just get bored. I wish there was a level-up system, or some way to earn combos. Hacking and slashing enemies in gory fashion only is fun for so long until you want more. Hell, even some more varied level design would have been nice, but no such thing exists here.
Overall, Shank provides a mediocre story that barely keeps your interest. The game has a beautiful art style, but is lacking in design change, and the combat is very shallow and monotonous. This game had a lot of potential, but what is here is enough for a quick play through then you will forget about it. Even playing again in different costumes isn't enough to drudge through this repetitive side scroller.
(Based on PC version)