Side-scrolling action games are ten-a-penny on XBLA. Most are lazy Metal Slug clones, others Shadow Complex wannabies.
Shank, however, stands out thanks to genuine innovation, gorgeous art and some of the sickest kill-moves we've seen. If in doubt, add blood.
The sequel is more evolution than revolution, taking the original formula, streamlining the fiddly bits (counters, platforming) and expanding the stu that worked (the violence). Want to hack a man's head off with a spade? Or snap his limbs with your bare hands? Shank 2 has you covered.
Cutscenes are sharper too, the slick art style even more vibrant than the original. However, the biggest change this sequel brings is co-op, where two players can fight waves of enemies in a multi-level arena.
You kick off by selecting a character and an arsenal of weaponry, which includes all the kit from the first game. We go for Shank during our demo (while our developer buddy goes for Falcone) pick the chainsaw as our heavy weapon, and a shotgun as our firearm.
As the cannon-fodder pour in we slaughter them to earn cash, which can be spent on mid-mission perks (like turrets) or pick-ups (health). We die often, and although there's a revive system, it's tough to help a friend when you're constantly harassed by attacks.
A little more polish, and this could be an XBLA highlight of 2012.
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