Monday, August 30

Sharp as a Tac

After purchasing both Modnation Racers and Mafia II this weekend, I was fairly sure that I had enough to keep me occupied for the next week at least. Upon booting up the Playstation 3, I also downloaded what was to be one of the greatest surprises of the year so far: Shank. Capturing the simplicity of classic 2D brawlers, as well as adding competent platforming action to complement and punctuate the violence; Shank is the best downloadable title since Battlefield 1943. I say this as a heavy consumer of downloadable titles, as well as one who very rarely completes these (usually) bite-sized gaming experiences.

Shank plays like Final Fight crossed with Mirror's Edge and Devil May Cry. Swordplay (and chainsawplay) and gunplay are merged seamlessly into a beautiful ballet of blades and bullets. Boss fights, while difficult, usually have a recognisable pattern and seldom feel cheap. The art direction and the quality of animation on display is a true visual treat. Blood is in ample supply, and some of the attacks are unbelievably brutal. There are some standout moments when sprites are blackened (a la Kill Bill), and all that can be seen is the occasional muzzle flash and shower of crimson. I thought I would be playing this for a few minutes before moving onto some of the year's more acclaimed titles, but it really sucked me in. I've truly enjoyed Shank, all three and a half hours of it.  Is it worth 20 dollars (or 1200 MSP)? I would argue in its favour, as I had a great deal of fun for the majority of the experience.

For all of my gushing above, please do not purchase Shank under the impression that you will be playing a perfect game. The sound design is truly uninspired, and the music rarely matches the intensity of the action on-screen. The story is not overly original, and the dialogue is rarely anything other than roars and screams of anguish. The game also features some examples of poor level design, with overly lengthy climbing sections and cheap deaths aplenty. Shank is also host to the most frustrating boss fight in recent memory. The final confrontation has me beat. I'm not giving up, but last night I came close to destroying my lovely TV with a lightweight Sixaxis controller.

Crtitical opinion on this game is mixed, but I am fairly sure that most would enjoy this brawler. It's dark, but distinctive visuals are a joy to behold and the action rarely lets up. There are some frustrations to be found, but if you are looking for a short, enjoyable thrill-ride; I highly recommend it.

What did you guys play this weekend?


  1. RUSE demo, sir. And I love it. I freakin' love it. Finally, after EndWar coming SOOOO close, the big step has finally been taken. A slower pace, a more grand-strategic nature...RUSE is brilliant. It can be a bit ugly at times on the PS3, but it's doing all the right things in all the right places.

    Was considering Shank, but I'm not one for these kinds of games. Everyone's wanking on about Scott Pilgrim, but I'm so damn sick of "cult classic" statuses being applied to forced pop culture references I simply don't want anything to do with that goddamn franchise - be it a movie, comic or game.

    That was a bit dramatic.

    Anyway, have you seen Dungeon Defenders, Trits? New Action-RPG tower defense (yeah, yeah, I know - tower defense) game coming out for PSN (and PC and 360), has Move support. I'll leave a vid of it on your FB. Online with splitscreen and offline co-op, and if it comes in at around the fifteen twenty buck mark, it'll be a hit. Gorgeous looking thing.

  2. Tower Defense! I haven't heard of Dungeon Defenders, but am interested to hear more. Are you going to be an early adopter of Move, Taz? I think I may be, if only because I love spending money on silly looking peripherals.

    I was actually going to write something comparative about Scott Pilgrim VS The World and Shank. Whereas Scott Pilgrim feels somewhat reverse-engineered, Shank feels like the natural evolution of the 2D brawler.

    I got tired of SPVTW after the first stage. Sure it looks cool and the soundtrack is fantastic, it plays like a baked ham. Shank on the other hand is like Julia Gillard, always moving forward.

    I've downloaded the demo for Ruse but still haven't booted it up. Based on your observations, I may just have to.

  3. I'm putting this out there, I will not be playing Ruse for one second. This isn't because I think it will be terrible, or that I think it is a waste of time, I just can't get into RTS. Which is disappointing, because watching some of the trailers for Ruse, it looked pretty good.

    I played some Skate 3, and man, it was so much fun. I forgot how much I truly enjoy the series. Sure, skateboarding games are reaching the point where they are cliched, but how could you not love the perfect combination of Thrasher and Tony Hawk 3 (arguably the best TH).

    Also fired up BC2 again, and now I remember why I love the game so much. It is so absorbing, and the fact that people genuinely try to play the objective is such a nice change. I nearly broke my controller last time I played MW2, after being:

    A)Commando lunged around a corner

    B) respawning, and being noob tubed by a guy using One Man Army and Danger Close

    C) and finally respawning to be killed immediately by a Predator Missle.

    That is 3 deaths in the space of 5 seconds, not kidding, 5 seconds.

  4. Tony Hawk 3 was the best of the series. 4 comes a close second. I might have to give Skate 3 a look.

    That's a funny 5 second segment of playtime Sambo. Hopefully I will see you on BC2 a little more often.

  5. Whilst I have, as usual played nothing that would be likely to excite any of you (assuming of course that Sudoku on the iPad is probably not everyone's cup of tea) I have to say that the first hour or so that I have witnessed of "Mafia II" looks amazing.

    As the ever present passive observer, the graphics, characterisation and storyline are big draw cards. Even early on it seems clear that the protagonist is going to be someone with whom you can empathise.

    The biggest drawcard though for me at this point as the audience is that soundtrack. As a lover of jazz and big band, the music that has been chosen really adds to the atmosphere of the game.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing how it all pans out.

    I'm also hoping that at some point soon I can try out Modnation Racers :)

  6. Miss Leeson, good words. Good words.

    Trits, I've got Move queued up, along with a nav controller...only the second time I've been there from the start - the PSP being the first. 'Twas RUSE and Under Siege that sold me on the thing. I want console strategy worth playing...and I think it'll happen. Kinetic? Where's the fidelity. Unless you're fine with playing wavy-hand Galcon, then I'm sticking with the pinpoint accuracy...the one that can sense depth.

    RUSE is only a week away now, so very keen. K&L2 is taking its time getting here from Hong Kong. Got Madden 11 recently and it's great, along with Midnight Club LA on the inbound. Bit of a broad swathe to cut.

  7. Mafia II does look amazing, I believe pacing will become an issue. The game (tea)spoon feeds you tasks. It's a different take on the sandbox, and so far it is proving to be charming.

    All I have seen of Kinect doesn't appear to be too promising. The two player limit isn't that big a deal, but so far the titles look gimmicky. Not to say that Sports Champions looks overly original, but TIME CRISIS!!! that gets me excited.

    Taz - I wasn't aware you were a Madden fan. I suck at the games, but Reuben and Matt Pfingst are seasoned vets.

    I wish I kept my PSP 2000. The PSPgo is less useful than a ginger peeler.

  8. Thanks for the purchase credit for Shank you Bastard! haha.

    I am looking forward to playing Shank more once I have time, the first two levels were awesome so I imagine it will get better with time.

    I cannot wait for the next ME2 DLC it will be Awesome!

    Hey Tris I found all your old Star Wars books, they are pretty good so far.

  9. Carls, I just don't think I could do a sandbox game with nothing to do outside of the main mission. I like that there are so many things outside fo the mission in GTA and Red Dead.

    Also, playing BC2 last night was awesome Tris! That Kiwi dude was intense man. Reuben, pick up BC2 again bro, so we can SQUAD UP BITCHES!!!

  10. Rubes - Play Shank. Do it now, and cry when you reach the last boss. AND! Thanks for the purchase credit for the old Star Wars book you Bastard! haha

    Sambo - last night was buttload of fun. In tanks, we are invincible!!!

  11. Trits, this is the first year I've touched an NFL game, and with Gameflow, it's probably the best year to do so...I've not played a sports game since Ronaldo V-Football on PSX, and before then, the hallowed Cricket 96.

    I just miss decent full-contact sport over here. Baseball bores the pants off me and self-immolation is preferable to soccer, so Madden it was. Not a bad game at all. Go my underdogs, go Seahawks!