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Extra Credit : Shank

After hardly getting any sleep last night, like a sloth that bunks with a howler monkey, I decided to contemplate some possible articles I could write about an array of games. You see, as much as I like the occasional stir of tea, I’d much rather bathe in it or actually drink it, in other words, I play games for the gameplay, which also reflects on my writing style. I don’t mind a story that could be summarised as a few words on the back of a cereal box, just as long as what’s inside is good. Of course, I adore a strong narrative, but the point is, I’d much rather write an article focusing on one game than “My Favourite Game Noises” or whatever else.

Enter, Extra Credit, I won’t patronise you with the details, as it’s basically just regarding games that deserve more attention. We live in a world Scott Pilgrim seems to dictate all of a sudden, which means folk like Shank just sit on curb, watch and aspire. I’ve always been one for doing the different however, so instead of jerking off with the majority, I’m going to glamorise a nobody…at least, I think it’s a nobody. I had never even heard of this game until I saw it plastered all over the PlayStation Store like a slut is covered in the smell of cheap perfume and durable disappointment. Still, I think I could contentedly download any demo and it would be an improvement on Hawx 2, which was about as fun as trying to shoot yourself in the face only using your own feet. Needless to say, when Shank eventually downloaded, it was genuinely a pleasant surprise, and better than Hawx 2.

If you’ve spent the last two paragraphs wondering what the hell Shank is, hazard a guess and humour yourself first. My predictions were anything from a game that has you beating working women to drunken bar fights. In reality though, Shank is a 2D comic book styled ‘action-fighter’, hence why I mentioned Scott Pilgrim earlier. That’s not the only interlining between the two either, as the protagonist “Shank” is also fighting with the motivation of a woman. For some reason or another, a burly, mysterious man named “The Butcher” has stole Shank’s partner who is referred to as “Your girl” while Shank’s left for dead, hearing the screams of his ‘dearly-beloved’. The concept is simple, Shank aims to get his girl back at the risk of his own life, it’s somewhat cliché, but this is clearly not a story-oriented game, which as I explained earlier, is fine. You probably wouldn’t find the plot on the back of any cereal box mind, unless Sylvester Stallone’s advertised on the front, in which case it’s probably just a box of teeth and broken glass.

I joke but Shank does actually retain a similar attitude to that of Rambo, in addition to most of the cinematic sequences being full of gore, guns and mild gags, yet it’s presented like a comic and all the better for it. Within this form you see it’s nothing to be taken seriously; the over-the-top action and unrelatable characters are deemed suitable and actually benefit from the style. Overall it’s a perfect aesthetic choice and contains some really nifty little quirks, for example, there are parts in the game when tabs open up in the corner of gameplay and illustrate minor progression through the medium of a short cut-scene. Furthermore, there’s also an element of platforming within Shank, though it’s in the minority, it’s still effective, seeing Shank jump through a window shooting the foes in peril below is very satisfying and makes the combat seem less clunky and uninspired.

That’s not to say the fighting is bad, it’s varied and unique, but it’s also pretty shallow, which is a significant flaw considering it’s the main aspect of the game. There’s 3 main attack buttons, light attack, heavy attack and guns, in addition to grenades and other inevitable weapons Shank picks up later in the game. No matter how many weapons are at your disposal however, it’s somewhat unnecessary if there’s no real skill or learning curve to using them. I won’t be too judgemental though, I’ve only played the demo and I’ll be damned if I ever only base my opinion on that. In all honesty, it’s not my cup of tea, but I still found it to be enjoyable, if quite vacant. In conclusion, if anything I’ve said appeals to you, go ahead and try out the trial. I’d imagine the full game is more of the same, and that the audience for this game isn’t particularly big, but if you’re the right person, you’ll love Shank. Even though it’s released, I still hear zilch about it, which is why I’ve decided to give it some limelight. If the demo is anything to go by, it’s a good title as well and at the very least, it’s pretty badass, and it gave me some inspiration, which is always nice.

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