You will learn to absolutely HATE these dogs.
Bosses are frustrating and cheap, but once you learn their pattern, they’re criminally easy to defeat, except for the final boss, who is a royal pain in the butt. The traditional boss experience in Shank is to die once in an unexpected and/or lame manner, then not take any damage the second time through. Why is this? Well, the game flat out tells you the boss strategy once you die. It’s a nice feature to keep you moving, but it’s like the developers don’t trust you to figure out the mechanics on your own.
The co-op is local only, for beat-em-ups I don’t mind that, and for this game it’s quite convenient to have someone to punch close by. The co-op campaign is actually a prequel to the events of the single-player content, where Shank pairs up with his comrade Falcone to (naturally) shank more gang members. Though the gameplay largely stays the same, the addition of co-op moves mixes things up a bit. Shank’s mostly useless grapple move from the single-player mode becomes the key to co-op stabbination: huck an unwitting gang member at your partner and they can unleash some sweet carnage.
Unfortunately my two primary complaints about the single-player campaign are exacerbated in co-op mode. Health items are often placed in pairs, and anyone mashing their primary attack button might accidentally take both of them, leaving their partner in a bad situation. It’s really annoying, and in a game whose fighting mostly takes place on flat, 2D planes, it doesn’t really make sense to have to worry about positioning, especially with two players. The bosses are also a chore, and though they often have similar gimmicks to the ones in the single-player, they’re not always obvious.
Shank is a gorgeous game, and when it’s at its best, it’s a great experience. The co-op is just as flawed as the main campaign, but both are good for mindless (though slightly frustrating) fun. If you’ve got a buddy and a free afternoon, you’ll probably enjoy Shank.
The Co-Op Experience: Shank has a 2 player co-op campaign with scenarios and bosses specifically designed for co-op.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.