Shank: Gorgeous animation, questionable narrative

Gamer Dude: Can I play Shank?
Me: No
Gamer Dude: Awww, why not?
Me: Because it’s a game called “shank,” I don’t think I need to elaborate.

As you can see from the clip above, it’s a beautifully animated game done in a dramatic comic book style. The story of Shank can be told from two different perspectives: single-player campaign and cooperative campaign. The protagonist, Shank, is a mobster hitman whose MO is avenging the death of his girlfriend, Eva.

Players control Shank and can choose from three different kinds of weapons: melee weapons (including a chainsaw — sigh), firearms (of course), and a pair of knives (to shank with, I imagine). The cooperative mode activates Shank’s able sidekick, Falcone. As in many multiplayer campaigns, this game requires players as the characters to collaborate and combine moves to complete “hits” and advance the story.

EA Games, who released Shank in 2010 calls the game “a side-scrolling beat ’em up” game and I say this is an accurate description. Designed by Klei Entertainment, the game is available for play on Linux, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.

Some may call me hypocritical because, as you’ve seen in other reviews, I’ve allowed Gamer Dude to play similar storylines (eg. Assassin’s Creed). Maybe I am, but for me, it’s all about context for the violence. Also, Shank is no Assassin’s Creed. Case in point, the action of Shank seems to center exclusively on executing violent deaths as part of Shank’s revenge plot.

CONCLUSION:

Shank is a straightforward, one-dimensional game with graphic violence at the forefront. While I love the art and animation in Shank, I can see little benefit to having this game in my home, and no value in allowing my kid to play it.

VERDICT: NO DICE 

Challenge: Keeping Up With Ubisoft & Todd McFarlane

It’s next to impossible to keep up with Todd McFarlane and Ubisoft, which, if you’re the parent of an Assassin’s Creed (AC) fan, you’ll be smart to try. Since today is the widely publicized release day for the Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag game trailer and game release announcement, I’ve been online upon waking. In case you missed it, AC4 is slated for October 29, 2013 release. View the game trailer here:

In my last post on this topic I jokingly suggested a media blackout as a means of staying ahead of Gamer Boy — at least until I knew more about this installment to the AC franchise. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until last night at dinner when he asked me if he could pre-order AC4, “Pleeeease! If I do I’ll get a limited edition Assassin’s Creed IV poster by Todd McFarlane!”

Two steps behind him again. Sigh.

I checked into the poster bonus today and discovered that Tood McFarlane has indeed illustrated a poster (source: IGN). The Assassin’s Creed website provides a pre-order purchase link, but it’s still leading to a PRODUCT NOT AVAILABLE page (at time of publication) — buying me more time to make my decision.

In the process of conducting this AC4/Todd McFarlane research I stumbled on another goody for AC fans:

These toys were made public on February 12, less than a month ago, but they won’t be available for purchase until this summer, giving me the gift of time. And really, it’s only a matter of time before Gamer Boy starts in on me for these action figures (& DLCs!). Still, it’s a small satisfaction being ahead of him on this one, if only for a moment.

I’ll keep you posted about my decision re: to buy AC4 and the figures, or not.

Shizzle’s going down — Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’s Coming!

Shizzle is going DOWN this Monday. Why? Oh, a little game called Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is on the way.

In a statement sent to Digital Spy Ubisoft said:

“We confirm that Ubisoft will announce all the details of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag on Monday March 4th at 5pm GMT.”

HOLD THE PHONE — I haven’t even given permission for Gamer Boy to play AC3 (never mind rumored AC3: Washington Edition, a bundle including all of the DLCs to date AND the game). Now Ubisoft raises expectations/excitement/anticipation with another chapter of the franchise? So much AC, so little time…

According to Matthew Reynolds from Digital Spy, AC4 is slated for release on current and next generation systems this year — during Ubisoft’s 2014 fiscal year — and it will be game-ready for Xbox 360, PS3 (PS3 will also have 60 minutes of exclusive content — sweet), PC, and Wii U.

What’s the setting for AC4?

Apparently it’s the high seas — pirate-style. Reynolds confirms that the location is somewhere in the Caribbean, and that the main character (Edward Kenway) is a privateer, assassin (of course), and a pirate. Here’s a peek for you — box art from the game:

Assassin's Creed 4

Paul Tassi for Forbes confirmed that Ubisoft would be dishing out more information this Monday, March 4. So I’ve got A LOT of reading and research to do in preparation for Gamer Boy’s AC4 harassment pleas. Hmmm… I wonder how long I can manage a successful Assassin’s Creed media blackout in this house…

This just in: IGN will be livestreaming the AC4 announcement all day Monday at 9am Pacific (pre-show at 8:30am)!