Shank PAX 2009 Hands-On PreviewBy Patrick Klepek - Posted Sep 04, 2009
Shank is the surprise hit of PAX 2009. Whenever I ran into someone at the show, inevitably the first question was: have you played Shank? Don't be surprised if you haven't heard of Shank before. There was a YouTube video floating around a few months back, but it's nothing like that anymore. It's a suitably impressive side-scrolling action game aided by some of the best looking 2D art in a video game.
Imagine an edgy, modern, violent take on Aladdin. Shank is kind of like that. Someone was clearly a big fan of old school, spriate-heavy action brawlers and wondered "man, wouldn't that be cool in HD?" It doesn't look like your typical machismo action game, either; Shank is a game with real character. You can definitely tell there are classic 2D animators working on this.
The mechanics themselves very much borrows from Prince of Persia with a little John Woo tossed in. The main character is constantly leaping around, climbing up walls and shooting his pistols in both directions. Oh, and the game constantly encourages you to slaughter defenseless birds. They explode into a mass of blood. You feel a little bad shooting them down, but…it's…so…pretty. Shank encourages the player to hop around the screen and change tactics on the fly, as some enemies defend against specific weapon types. The developers promised the final version would have an even bigger emphasis on having players constantly on their toes.
The developers stressed several times that Shank is very early, but the game was coming together so well, they simply wanted to show the game off at PAX. It was a smart move; if someone wasn't already backing Shank, by the end of the show, it'll have a publishing contract. No target platform has been announced for the game yet, either. At PAX, there was a Dreamcast controller at the kiosk. The developers simply wanted to throw off reporters. It was too early to talk platforms.
That's okay. I'm just a little angry it'll be so long before I play Shank again.