Shank 2 review: Kill with guns, knives and raw fish in this stylish brawler

So many ways to murder, so little time to kill

Shank may sound like man-love innuendo, but our titular hero is anything but fruity: he's a knife-throwing, chainsaw-wielding, grenade-lobbin' legend who rips grown men apart and drinks tequila to regain health.


It's not just plain old knives and guns in this cel-shaded side-scrolling shooter - you also have access to machetes, molotovs, even raw fish. Whatever's available in the war-torn, stylised yet gritty environments, Shank can use it to murderfy all comers and rack up a high score.

Much of the game tasks you with running across platforms, slicing up bad guys, triggering things to fall on bad guys, dodging explosions and duking it out with big, bad bosses.

One level saw us shooting out a control tower while mopping up waves of enemies and avoiding being insta-killed by a lead boat on a winch. Another saw us man a turret, then hurry across the level slashing baddies as a chopper rained down missiles. It packs in rather a lot considering it lasts a measly two to three hours.

The beauty is, for all its brawn, it's anything but brainless. Face buttons allow melee, heavy attacks and long-range pistols to be mixed together, while LB lobs explosives, left stick moves and, unlike the first game, right stick dodges. You'll need to mix evasiveness with counters (hit R as a warning symbol appears) and long-range cowardice to stand a chance against tougher foes. Where the original was often sluggish at vital moments, Shank 2 is smooth and agile and, once mastered, the improved controls mean you will be quickly chaining combos and making Kill Bill look like Cartoon Network.


A tough-as survival mode and added online co-op (sort of - it has its own stages with waves of enemies to kill) does go some way to easing the pain of the miserly story mode. But in short, Shank's sequel improves on the controls, retains its dark yet impressive cel-shaded art style and throws in more modes. What we'd kill for is a bit more of it.

The verdict

A refinement of the original and a gruesome excuse to dice with death and rack up high scores. A short, bloody rollercoaster which mostly impresses.

  • Unique arsenal of weapons
  • Striking visuals
  • Gruesome sense of humour
  • A little too short
Xbox Live Arcade
EA Games
Action, Beat 'em Up, Action