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Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action Games

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Klei Entertainment

Local Co-op

Shank is another side-scrolling fighter released as a downloadable game with a tribute like experience to classics such as Double Dragon and Contra. This genre of titles is seeing quite the revival of late and Shank is one of the newest additions that amalgamates a side-scrolling fighter with a graphical stylization combining Kill Bill and Desperado to create a great visual experience. Join Shank on his journey of mayhem and destruction as he blazes a path of vengeance.


The best way to describe the graphics for Shank is that they resemble a live action comic book. The style, shading, blood spatters and so much more screams adult graphic novel, such as those released over the past couple of years. Think of great graphic novels like 300, Wanted and Sin City to get a good depiction of the style this game’s graphical presentation takes.

It is amazing how much detail they included throughout the game with all of the characters, levels and weapons used by Shank. The variety of levels included in the game, such as the train yard and meat plant, really do a great job showing the details in the design with simple things like sparks coming off the train tracks or pigs hanging off meat hooks gently swaying back and forth.

The animations are slick, fluid and some of the best that I’ve seen in a downloadable game. The cut-scenes do an amazing job of detailing out the story on visuals alone and are not for the faint of heart. Just because it is a cartoon doesn’t mean it is for kids; this is an adult cartoon and that should be taken into consideration before purchasing this title.


Music in Shank could have been a lot better. With such a violent game it would have been nice to hear Drowning Pool with their song “Bodies” blaring as Shank causes mayhem, but we’re left with a soundtrack that I would call functional. It’s not horrible, but it definitely could have been a lot better and more in tune with the violent theme of the game.

The voice acting is archetypal and what you would expect from the characters with big tough guy voices, steely vixens and damsels in distress. Though not horrible in quality I found that the voice actors didn’t get into the characters and were just reading a script rather than becoming completely immersed in the performances to tell this story superbly.

Rounding out the sound package are the sound effects which are the strongest aspects of the overall sound. As with most games in this genre there is a large variety of sound effects and Shank doesn’t shirk in this department with loads of bone crunching, blood splattering, dog barking, gunfire and explosions to create top notch effects throughout the whole game.


Shank is a classic story of revenge where Shank will make people pay for taking the love of his life away and nearly killing him after a brutal attack. After surviving the attack Shank sets out to exact his revenge on every single person involved in his beating and the taking of his love.

Shank is a side scrolling shooter with a simple control set up but there is plenty of variety with what you can do with Shank. There are four basic attacks: Light Melee, Heavy Melee, Guns and Grenades. With your light attacks you use a shank (a shank is a homemade knife made out of any materials you can find on hand, if you’re not sure what a shank is) to cut up the enemy. The shank is the only static weapon throughout the game, as your shank is your trusty sidekick. For the heavy melee attacks you will be able to use chainsaws, swords and a whole lot more to dispose of anyone that stands in the way. Guns come in all shapes and sizes and Shank gets quite the variety with shotguns, pistols, machine guns and he can even carry turrets to mow down some enemies.

The beauty of the combat system is that you can take all of your attacks and link them together for some fairly brutal attacks that will cause optimal pain to your enemies and ultimately their destruction. Not to mention the ability to lunge at opponents after launching yourself into the air using brute force of your body and gravity to bring down the enemy that you continue to pummel into one huge bloody mess. We can’t forget that Shank can also grapple onto his prey where he can use one of his attacks to strike at his enemies or he can simply toss them like rag dolls across the screen.

The combat works, however, I did have some problems with the aiming reticle not being as exact as I would like when it came to precision shots. This doesn’t really apply when the enemies are on the same level as Shank, but when I had to shoot directly up or on an angle it quickly became frustrating that I could only shoot in pre-determined compass directions (NW,N,NE for example).

What kind of side-scrolling fighter would this game be if it didn’t have co-operative play packaged within the title? Shank does have a co-op mode, however it is only local which is a huge disappointment because this game would have been awesome to play with friends online. The co-op mode is a prequel of the main storyline where you and your crime partner Falcone pull off some heists and ultimately have to fight your way out of some sticky situations.

The gameplay is really decent with the main faults being the lack of control when aiming your guns and the co-op play is only local, lacking the online element games need to become titles gamers will continue to play. Overall though this is a game full of blood, gore and some great action to keep fans of the genre busy.

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