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Video Game / Shank

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Shank is a 2D beat 'em up released on the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network on August 25, 2010 and on PC October 26. It was developed by Klei Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts.

Betrayed by the only family he ever knew and left for dead, Shank feels the need to seek revenge for the death of his beloved at the hands of the underworld's deadliest assassins. Utilizing his knowledge of gang warfare and weaponry, Shank must battle his way through the criminal underground in order to seek revenge against the people who brought his world crashing down around him.

A sequel was released on February 7, 2012. Shank's attempts to settle down and leave his criminal past behind him is abruptly ended when a power vaccuum was created after Shank destroyed the cartel, forcing a military intervention. Unforunately this only caused them to take over the operations and create a new crime group called The Militia, ending up threatening the lives of those closest to him. Now, Shank has to once again take up his weapons and take the fight to the enemy, with assistance from the local resistance and an old friend.


The E3 Animatic, Gameplay, Co-Op Launch and Accolades trailers for the first game.

The Announcement, Combat and Launch trailers for the sequel.

Tropes used in this game:

  • Action Commands: Quite a few to go around, usually used for bosses or countering attacks.
  • All There in the Manual: Some of the backstory for Shank 2 is contained in the interquel comic and the Rebel Intel found in-game.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Par for the course, but inexplicably also present in an FMV in the second game where Cyclops' eyepatch switches sides.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The second game has you play an entire level of the main story using Corina.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Completing certain side objectives will get you new costumes. Semi-averted in Shank 2, though: while skins do nothing in the single-player game, every skin has different stats in Survival Mode.
  • Anti-Hero: Trying to say Shank is a good guy is a bit of a stretch, but compared to the people he fights (a leader of a cartel and a dictator, more or less) he could be worse and he at least does seem to have moral boundaries.
    • Played Straight in Shank 2. While he has no interest in joining the Resistance, he does go out of his own way to save civilians and seems to have some form of concern for them.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Both Big Bads and Final Bosses of the first game and it's sequel.
    • Cesar, leader of the cartel and the one responsible for teaching Falcone and Shank everything they know in fighting.
    • General Magnus, leader of the Militia, is the Final Boss for the second game. According to his bio, he's also a world champion in bare-knuckled boxing.
  • Ass Shove: If you decided to Counter-Attack a nearly dying Giant Mook carrying a weapon. Shank proceeds to take the weapon and shove it up where the sun don't shine.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The katana's grapple move, while visually pleasing, does little damage and leaves you open during the animation.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Shank and Falcone in one of the promotional artworks.
  • Badass Biker: Denny was formerly the leader of a biker gang and definitely shows why he was. He also had a partner named Dusty whom could hold his own. Unfortunately after Shank and Falcone were done with him and his gang, they left him at the mercy of Cassandra.
  • Bad Habits: As revealed in the co-op campaign, Angelo acts as a Sinister Minister after gunning down a priest. Posing as him because while people knew the priest was coming, no one knew what he looked like. When Shank enters his church in the singleplayer campaign, it's also revealed one of his goons runs around crossdressing as a nun.
  • Back Stab: No matter what you hit an enemy with, as long as their back is turned it's a one hit kill.
  • Backstory: An interesting case where it's not only playable but also only accessible by playing the co-op mode.
  • Bag of Spilling: A variation; at the start of the second game, Shank starts off with a pair of machetes (likely the same pair he used in the first game) as his "heavy" weapon, and throwing knives for ranged attacks. He eventually gets his starting combo from the first game (a pair of handguns and a chainsaw) as he progresses.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: The aversion thereof is the reason for Cassandra's vendetta against Shank.
    • Played straight in the second game with the fact that you can cut arms and legs off normal enemies, but not female enemies. You can still gib them, though. Also, female bosses die much less violent deaths when they bite the dust: ( Cassandra in the first game gets a hole in the forehead, despite that Shank shot her at point blank and the bullet should have punched a big chunk of her brains out of the back of her skull and the cult leader in the second game gets Eaten Alive by wolves offscreen).
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Shank does so with Cassandra's sword in a flashback.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Shank doesn't get drunk, he gets healthy.
  • Boss Arena Recovery: Every boss fight in the game has this. Except the last fight in co-op mode.
  • Boss Subtitles: Each boss in both games has their name revealed either when first introduced or before the start of the battle. Shank himself gets one at the start of the first game.
    • Played for laughs in the second gamem, when at the start of an Indiana Jones-esque sequence, the Boss Subtitle is given to the giant boulder that starts chasing Shank.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Played with, while Shank's firearms need to be reloaded. He never seems to run out of reserve ammunition however. Although played straight with the enemy's firearms. Such as minigun mooks and Cesar's flintlock pistols.
  • Bowdlerise: In 2013, some story elements of the original Shank were removed and changed via update.
    • The reveal that Eva was pregnant when she was killed and mentions of her rape were removed.
    • The Butcher just dies after strangled hard by Shank's chain. He no longer gets butchered by the grinder.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: While Shank grabs a Mook, he can use them as this.
  • Bullfight Boss: The Fake Butcher / El Raton, and also Giant Mook from nowhere Toro.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: If it wasn't for the supplemental material, you wouldn't even know Falcone was Cesar's son, considering Falcone always refers to Cesar by name. Granted they do have a resemblance between one another but that's about it.
  • Chain Pain: Chains are weaponized a few times in the first Shank game, such as The Butcher using one with a meat hook on the end during his boss fight in the meat-packing factory, the titular protagonist using the chains around the meat-packing plant to choke The Butchernote 
  • Chainsaw Good: Shank's Weapon of Choice next to his Shanks is obviously his chainsaw. On the enemies' side, General Magnus has dual chainsaw knives!
  • Clean Cut: In cutscenes and when used to deal the final blow in the second game, the machetes can cleanly sever limbs. Done egregiously in a cutscene in the second game when the shank is used to sever someone's head in one stroke.
  • Combination Attack: Possible in the multiplayer.
  • Combos
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Shank's choice of Eva vs. the cartel, where no matter what choice he made, he'd be betraying someone he cared for.
    Shank: You taught me nothing comes before family.
    Cesar: I was your family!
    Shank: So was she!
  • Continuity Nod: In Shank 2, some of the unlockable costumes include Shank as he was in the original, Falcone, and even Cesar.
    • In the same game, there is a picture of Shank and Falcone located in the Hotel level.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: The first game has it, serving as a How We Got Here prequel to the events of the 1P campaign. The trophy for completing it is even called "Backstory."
  • Counter-Attack: Possible in both games but with different triggers and animations.
  • Crowbar Combatant: Dusty from the Co-Op prequel, a Badass Biker whom was partners with Denny before being killed by Shank and Falcone.
  • Deadly Doctor: Magnus' physician in the second game serves as the penultimate boss, and he's tough as hell. Fittingly, he looks just like the Medic from Team Fortress 2
  • Death Cry Echo: Happen a lot in these games.
  • Determinator: Shank holds his own next to Max Payne for sheer iron plating; he's in potentially worse shape by the end of the first game, and is running on his own badassitude and booze.
  • Denser and Wackier: While the first game is a gritty revenge story of an ex-mobster, the second game has more weird elements, like the cannibal jungle with the rolling boulder, or a deadly kung-fu doctor with his nurse minions.
  • Dies Wide Open: Most bosses. Shank leaves them like that most of the time, but he closes Cesar's eyes.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Arguably Corina in the sequel.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Shank's real name, according to one of the Rebel Intels, is Robert Torres, but even those closest to him, such as Corina and Elena, still refer to him by his nickname.
  • Drop the Hammer: The last weapon you get in the second game. Very slow, but packs quite the punch.
  • Dual Wielding: Shank always has at least two shanks and two pistols in his hands. One of his "heavy" weapons is a pair of machetes.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Elena's not really his mother, she just ran the orphanage where he grew up, and is the closest thing he had to a maternal figure in his life.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even while working for the cartel, Shank still had a few lines he wouldn't cross. He's unflinchingly loyal and kind to his girlfriend after she sees him and his partner trying to kill the Deputy Mayor, and has to be restrained from attacking Angelo after he casually shoots a priest. Even Cesar has a hint of this when Shank reveals that Eva was pregnant when they killed her, telling Shank, "Had I known she was with child, that would have changed things..."
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Doctor's real name in Shank 2 is Marco Gura according to the Rebel Intel that can be collected.
  • Exploding Barrels: The boss fight against the Masked Butcher in the first game's co-op campaign, has him grab explosive barrels from the corners of the boss arena then throw them at Shank and Falcone.
  • Fat Bastard: Quite a few of them to go around, there's the fat Mooks that Shank can fight and on the bosses side there's the Butcher and Denny (the prequel Co-Op campaign reveals that even before he was turned into a gimp he was quite the bastard).
  • Gatling Good: The bigger mooks sometimes carry miniguns. These can be picked up and used by Shank.
  • Giant Mook: They can in all types Bikers, Luchadors, Truckers & Militias.
  • Grenade Launcher: The larger enemies sometimes carry these.
  • Guest Fighter: DeathSpank ! And Kratos!
  • Guns Akimbo: You start off with two pistols in the first game.
  • Guttural Growler: Shank has a very gravelly voice.
  • Handwraps of Awesome: Fitting his nature as an enforcer and blade-wielding brawler, his hands up to his forearms are wrapped in bandages/boxing tape to protect them when he gets up close and personal.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Extreme example at the end of the first game. After Shank is sucker-punched, stabbed in the gut and then shot at point-blank range by Cesar with two guns, he just gets up, effortlessly tanks every other attack, finishes the job, and walks away without so much as a limp.
  • Hooks and Crooks: When fighting The Butcher in the meat-packing plant, he naturally makes use of a meat hook attached to a chain to fight Shank.
  • Homage: To the bloody B-level action movies of the 1970s, most likely, a la Machete.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: Pretty much standard for any female character in the game.
  • Improvised Weapon User: Shank wears chains around his hands to pulverize and strangle enemies.
    • Any of the temporary weapons in Shank 2 count, which include a kitchen sink and A [1].
  • Jiggle Physics: The female mooks are all buxom. First place goes to the cold-hearted Cassandra.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Katana is the final weapon that Shank gets in the first game.
  • Karmic Death: If Shank kills somebody major, it's always justified (and ironic).
  • Klingon Promotion: According to the interquel comic, this is one of the cartel's rules.
  • Knife Nut: Besides being the character's name, Shank uses two knives as his main melee weapons. Big Bad Cesar has shiny engraved ones.
  • Kung-Fu Sonic Boom: A classic example at the end of the fight with Cesar.
  • The Lad-ette: Corina. She's just as tough and violent as Shank, and she'll down a bottle of booze just as fast.
  • Lag Cancel: Holding the block button while using the shotgun will make it fire more quickly. In the sequel, most actions can be cancelled by rolling - including pouncing on somebody.
  • Left for Dead: Shank is left inside of a burning building presumed to have died in it. Unfortunately for them that wasn't the case and he's
  • Lighter and Softer: The second game, relatively. While the gameplay is as brutal and manly as ever, its tone is subtly different: "your" side is much less morally ambiguous[[note]]A rebellion against an oppressive military government, vs. an ex-cartel enforcer out only for revenge, and the cutscenes are much more exaggeratedSpoilers . Swearing is also much less common.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Shank and Corina were raised in the same orphanage, and thus have this relationship.
  • Locomotive Level: Consisting of one long Traintop Battle, as Shank rides one to get to the meat packing district. Naturally there's not only a boss on the train engine (a couple of goons riding a jeep) but it also crashes, when beating said boss.
  • Machete Mayhem: As a reference to the movie that heavily influenced the game, Shank gets two of em' in both games, the sequel even has them being his starting "heavy" weapons..
  • Made of Iron:
    • All enemies, as well as Shank himself. Enemies can easily get up and start shooting you again even after you've rammed a chainsaw into their stomachs. The big guys can take several grenades to the face and still come charging after you.
    • Large enemies in the second game have different Counter-Attack animations depending on whether the attack finishes them off. When Shank counters by snatching their weapons and ramming the weapons into their chests, that's the non-finishing animation. The enemy will be momentarily delayed pulling the weapon out of his chest but will be fighting fit otherwise.
  • Made of Plasticine: According to the cutscenes in the second game, it is entirely possible to tear out a shark's jaws from its mouth with bare hands, chop someone into multiple pieces by entangling them in a chain that has blades only on its tip and pulling it taut just once, punch a grenade through someone's sternum into their chest, and cleanly decapitate someone with the blunt edge of a shank barely as long as a person's neck is wide. Granted however all of this fears are done by Shank.
  • Masked Luchador: Many Giant Mooks from the first game are this.
    • The Butcher in the first game, which is used to disguise that the first Butcher Shank finds isn't the actual Butcher from the cartel.
    • The second game features this as a costume for Shank.
  • Martial Arts Headband: Shank has a red one on his forehead, it used to be white before the Butcher hits him hard enough that his head started bleeding.
  • Meteor Move: Type A can be done in the sequel.
  • Mook: of all shapes and sizes.
  • More Dakka: From SMGs to freaking miniguns!
  • Mirror Boss: Cesar is more-or-less this for Shank, fighting with weapons that mirror his former enforcer's own, carrying a pair of fancy knives as opposed to Shank's shivs, a cutlass that neatly mirrors Shank's Katana and lastly a pair of flintlock pistols that are a great contrast Shank's semi-auto pistols. Including pouncing on you near the end of the fight.
    • Magnus is also arguably this, his main weapons are basically a mixture of Shank's two iconic weapons his shank and chainsaw. Chainsaw Knives.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Shank. He certainly does.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Cesar's death ignites a gang war that becomes big enough to require an entire extragovernmental militia to stop it. Said militia then overthrew the government. Nice one, Shank.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: You can continue to beat up enemies even after they've died.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Shank doesn't even blink whenever he sees a woman in skimpy clothing, and their attempts to grab his attention for nefarious purposes never really work.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Shank only reluctantly joins the Rebels in Shank 2 because he needs their support to save Elena.
  • Not So Stoic: Unlike in the first game, the sequel has Shank sometimes display a range of different emotions beside anger. He 's pretty unflappable in Shank 2, except when he kills the Cannibal King Obleng and sees his fellow cannibals eating his corpse. He looks at the scene with a clearly freaked out face.
  • One-Man Army: By the end of your first run, you'll have amassed at the very least 500 kills.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: And how. Pretty much everyone bleeds profusely with no regard for the laws of biology.
    • It gets even worse, when one recurring mook in cutscenes gets his arm sliced of by Shank. Shank tells him to give Angelo a warning. By the time he gets there it's already morning and he's still bleeding!
  • Palette Swap: Shank's partner, Falcone who is Cesar's son.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Shank has only two expressions: menacing scowl, and tooth-clenched rage.
  • Platform Game: Though predominantly a Beat 'em Up, many levels include sequences of climbing, jumping and wall-running.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Forgive me Father, for I will sin.
  • Precision F-Strike: Swearing is a lot less common in the second game than in the first. This allows Shank to emphasize that right before he executes Magnus, he is not happy.
  • Rated M for Manly: It's fundamentally a game about a muscular, gravelly-voiced badass called "Shank" tearing through hordes of Mooks with knives, so this is a given.
  • Red Is Heroic: For a certain definition of heroic in the first game, Shank wears a Red Bandanna in flashbacks it was originally white until The Butcher knocked him out. In the second game, Shank wears a Red T-shirt to go along with his red bandanna and in this game he's now actively fighting for a more heroice cause.
  • Reverse Grip: How Shank usuall holds his shanks.
  • Remember the New Guy?: The second game starts with Shank reminiscing over a photo of him with two women (Elena and Corina). When he finds them they act as if they've known him for a long time, and according to Rebel Intel they were his family of sorts as he grew up in an orphanage. Of course, none of this was evident in the first game.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In its purest form.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Shank surprisingly pulls this in Shank 2 after seeing the cannibals eating their own leader.
  • Sinister Minister: Angelo, although not really as he's only dressed like one, since he killed the real priest.
  • Sinister Scythe: Not exactly sinister, but Corina obtains and uses one in the sequel.
  • Sinister Shiv: Shank's signature (and namesake) weapon is a pair of irregular, jagged, menacing shards of metal with makeshift tape grips. They are sharp enough to decapitate a person.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Judging by how Shank pumps it probably a Lever-Action Shotgun. Despite the fact there's a pretty obvious absence of a lever.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: In the first game Shank, wears a shirt with ripped sleeves. Averted in the Second game where he actually where a T-shirt although there are small tears on the sleeves. This doesn't diminish his badassery however.
  • Throw a Barrel at It: The boss fight against the Butcher in the 2-player campaign has Exploding Barrels on the corners of the aren. If he sustains enough damage, he will retreat to the corners and start chucking them at Shank & Falcone, however the two can start shooting at the barrel so it'll hurt him instead.
  • Wham Line: In a flashback during the final battle of the first game, which explains why Shank is even angrier than most on a quest of revenge: Eva telling Shank "I carry your son" just before she was killed.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Averted, Shank does to Cassandra after you win her boss fight.
  • Wicked Cultured: Cesar lives in a fancy mansion decorated with antiques, wears an ascot, and fights with pearl-handled knives, a saber, and a pair of flintlock dueling pistols.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Gender matters not to Shank.


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