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Shank is a 2D Beat 'em Up video game released on the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network on August 25, 2010, and on PC on October 26 of the same year. 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, Shank 2, was released on February 7, 2012. Shank's attempts to settle down and leave his criminal past behind him are 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.


Click on the following links for the E3 Animatic, Gameplay, Co-Op Launch and Accolades trailers of the first game.

Click on the following links for the Announcement, Combat and Launch trailers of the sequel.

Shank provides examples of:

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  • Action Commands: Quite a few to go around, usually used for bosses or countering attacks.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: One of the segments in Shank 2's final level features a construction truck with a saw on its front to escape from. Destroying it is entirely optional, and even then it's notably weaker than most mooks.
  • All There in the Manual: Some of the backstory for Shank 2 is contained in the interquel comic and the Rebel Intels found in-game.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Par for the course, but inexplicably also present in a cutscene in Shank 2 where Cyclops' eyepatch switches sides.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The second game has you play as Corina for an entire level of the main story.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Completing certain side objectives will get you new costumes. Downplayed in Shank 2, though: while skins do nothing in the main game, each one of them 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 at least does have moral boundaries. He gets better in Shank 2, though; while he's reluctant in joining the Resistance, he does go out of his own way to save civilians and appears to have some concern for them.
  • Ass Shove: If you decide to Counter-Attack a nearly-dying big enemy carrying a weapon. Shank proceeds to take the weapon and shove it up where the sun don't shine.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Both Big Bads and Final Bosses of the two games.
    • Cesar from the first game is the leader of the cartel and the one who taught Falcone and Shank everything they know in fighting.
    • General Magnus, leader of the Militia in Shank 2, is pretty experienced in melee fighting with his so-called "chainsaw knives". According to his bio, he's also a world champion in bare-knuckled boxing.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The katana's grapple move, while visually pleasing, does little damage and leaves you open during the animation.
  • Badass Biker: As shown in the co-op prequel, Denny was the former leader of a biker gang, and definitely shows why he was. He also had a partner named Dusty, who could hold his own. Unfortunately for him, 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 acted as a Sinister Minister after gunning down a priest, then posed as him because while people knew the priest was coming, no one knew what he looked like. When Shank enters the church Angelo took over in the single player campaign, it's also shown that one of his henchmen 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.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Shank and Falcone in one of the promotional artworks.
  • 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 pistols and a chainsaw) as he progresses.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • The aversion thereof is the motivation for Cassandra's vendetta against Shank.
    • Played straight in the second game, in that you can cut arms and legs off male enemies but not female ones; you can still gib them, though.
    • The female bosses have much less violent deaths than the male ones. 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 (that said, the blood pool under her skull is massive), and Roselle in Shank 2 gets Eaten Alive by wolves offscreen.
  • Blade Enthusiast:
    • Besides being his namesake, Shank uses two knife-like shivs as his weapon of choice, and has dual machetes and a chainshaw in both games. He also gets a katana in the first game, and has throwing knives as his starting ranged weapon in Shank 2.
    • Cesar has a pair of shiny, engraved knives and a cutlass.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Shank does so with Cassandra's sword in a flashback from the first game.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Shank doesn't get drunk, he gets healthy.
  • Boss Arena Recovery: Every boss fight in the first game has this, except the last boss in co-op mode.
  • Boss Subtitles:
    • Most bosses in both games have their name shown either when first introduced or before the start of their fight.
    • Shank himself gets one in the intro of the first game.
    • Played for laughs in the second game, where at the start of an Indy Escape sequence, the Boss Subtitle is given to the giant boulder that starts rolling towards Shank.
  • Bottomless Magazines:
    • Played with in regards to Shank's firearms. While they have to be reloaded from time to time, Shank never seems to run out of reserve ammunition.
    • Played straight with certain enemies' firearms, such as the miniguns carried by some big enemies and Cesar's flintlock pistols.
    • Averted with the flamethrowers in Shank 2, which have limited ammo once the playable characters pick them.
  • Bowdlerise: In 2013, the first game's Steam release had some story elements removed or 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 by Shank with a chain. He no longer gets dropped in a meat grinder offscreen.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: While Shank grabs a mook, he can use them as this.
  • Bullfight Boss: Several in the first game, including:
  • Cain and Abel: Cyclops' Rebel Intel in Shank 2 reveals him to be the Abel to Magnus and Inferno's Cains. He tried to assassinate Magnus for abusing his power, but was stopped by Inferno, whom he took an eye out in the process. He was then imprisoned in a tanker for a year, leading to his status by the game's events, but not before Inferno extracted his eye in return.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: If it wasn't for the supplemental material, you wouldn't 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 game, such as:
    • The Butcher using one with a meat hook on the end during his boss fight in the meatpacking plant.
    • Shank using the same aforementioned chains to choke The Butchernote .
    • One of Shank's heavy weapons is chains wrapped around his fist. He gets them after beating Denny by ripping off the chains attached to his nipples.
  • Chainsaw Good:
    • Shank's weapon of choice next to his shivs is obviously his chainsaw; it's even referred to as his "signature weapon" in Shank 2.
    • 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: Specifically for hits given to enemies.
  • 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 skins make Shank look like his design in the first game, Falcone, and even Cesar.
    • There's 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 campaign, a Badass Biker who was partners with Denny before he was killed by Shank and Falcone.
  • Deadly Doctor: Magnus' physician, the Doctor, serves as the penultimate boss of Shank 2, and he's tough as hell. Fittingly, he looks just like the Medic from Team Fortress 2.
  • Death Cry Echo: Happens a lot in both games when enemies are killed.
  • 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: The first game is about a realistic, gritty revenge story of an ex-mobster. The second game, as well as being somewhat lighter with the plot, has numerous bizarre elements, like a cannibal jungle with a rolling boulder, or a deadly kung-fu doctor with his nurse minions.
  • Dies Wide Open: Most bosses remain their eyes open upon their death. Shank leaves them like that most of the time, but he closes Cesar's eyes.
  • Disney Villain Death: The levels' maps tend to contain parts with bottomless or hazardous pits, which both enemies and Shank himself can fall into and die instantly.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Arguably Corina to Shank in the sequel, since she uses most of the same weapons as him.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Shank's real name, according to one of the Rebel Intels in Shank 2, 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 Shank 2 is a Sledgehammer. It's somewhat 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:
    • While working for the cartel, Shank still had a few lines he wouldn't cross. He was unflinchingly loyal and kind to his girlfriend after she sees him and his partner trying to kill the Deputy Mayor, and had to restrain himself from attacking Angelo when he casually shoots a priest.
    • 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": In Shank 2, the Doctor's real name is Marco Gura, according to a Rebel Intel.
  • Exploding Barrels: The boss fight against the Butcher in the first game's co-op campaign has him grab explosive barrels from the corners of the boss arena and throw them at Shank and Falcone.
  • Fat Bastard: Quite a few of them to go around.
    • The sequel features regular Mooks of this kind, most of whom attack by charging at you and have the same amount of health as normal big enemies.
    • Among the bosses in both games are the Butcher, Denny (the prequel co-op campaign reveals that even before he was turned into a gimp, he was quite the bastard) and Oblong.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Zig-zagged. Enemies' attacks don't usually damage each other, but Shank 2 allows you to use grabbed enemies as meat shields, which makes them vulnerable to attacks from their fellows, and the fire from molotovs thrown by Small enemies can damage other enemies upon contact.
  • Gainaxing: The female enemies are all buxom. First place goes to the cold-hearted Cassandra.
  • Gatling Good:
    • Big enemies sometimes carry miniguns. These can be picked up and used by the playable characters.
    • The Final Boss fight against Magnus in the sequel features two minigun turrets that spawn midway through the fight. They shoot at the player whenever they reach their range and can be destroyed, although doing so isn't necessary to defeat Magnus.
  • Giant Mook: Big enemies are large men who are the second type of regular Mooks introduced in both games. They can belong to any faction, and are stronger than average enemies. In the first game, they're also immune to grapple and pounce attacks.
  • Grenade Launcher: Big and fat enemies sometimes carry these.
  • Guest Fighter: DeathSpank and Kratos.
  • Guns Akimbo: You start off with two pistols in the first game as your first ranged weapon. They return in Shank 2, although their place as the starting ranged weapon is taken by the new throwing knives instead.
  • Guttural Growler: Shank has a very gravelly voice.
  • Handwraps of Awesome: Fitting his nature as an enforcer and blade-wielding brawler, Shank's hands up to his forearms are wrapped in bandages/boxing tape to protect them when he gets up close and personal.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Exaggerated at the end of the first game. After Shank gets 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 meatpacking 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:
    • Shank can wear chains around his hands to pulverize and strangle enemies.
    • Some of the dropped weapons in Shank 2 count as this, such as a kitchen sink and a fish.
  • Katanas Are Just Better:
    • The katana is the final weapon that Shank gets in the first game.
    • Cassandra's weapon of choice is a katana.
  • 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.
  • 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 ambiguousnote , 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 them 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 stomach multiple times. The Big ones can take several grenades to the face and still come charging after you.
    • Big 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 them into their chests, that's the non-finishing animation. They'll be momentarily delayed after Shank pulls the weapon out of their chest, but will be fighting fit otherwise.
  • Made of Plasticine: According to the cutscenes in the second game, it's 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, as all of these things are done by Shank.
  • Masked Luchador:
    • One of the designs for big enemies in the first game features a luchador mask accompanied by a formal suit.
    • The Butcher in the first game, which is used to disguise that the first boss Shank fights isn't the actual Butcher from the cartel, but rather the Butcher's rival El Toro.
    • 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 hit him hard enough that his head started bleeding and gave the headband its current color, as seen in flashbacks and the co-op campaign.
  • Meteor Move: Type A can be done in Shank 2.
  • Mini Mook: Shank 2 features Small enemies who are shorter than normal ones, making them harder to hit. The game's Survival Mode features a variant of them known as Bombers, who plant bombs in supply stations to destroy them.
  • Mirror Boss:
    • Cesar from the first game is more-or-less this to Shank, fighting with weapons that mirror his former enforcer's own, which include a pair of fancy knives as opposed to Shank's shivs, a cutlass that can be compared to Shank's katana, and flintlock pistols that are a great contrast to Shank's semi-auto pistols. He also pounces on Shank during his defeat cutscene.
    • Arguably downplayed with Magnus from Shank 2, since his main weapons (so-called "chainsaw knives") are basically a combination of Shank's shivs and chainsaw, but his overall move set is unique otherwise.
  • Mooks: Of all shapes and sizes.
  • More Dakka: From SMGs to freaking miniguns!
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Shank. He certainly does.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: By the events of Shank 2, Cesar's death ignited a gang war that became big enough to require an entire extragovernmental militia to stop it. Said militia then overthrew the government. Nice one, Shank!
  • 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 still 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: Shank. By the end of your first run in either game, he would have amassed at the very least 500 kills.
  • Organ Theft: In Shank 2, the Doctor leads an organ theft business in the basement area of a disguised hotel.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank:
    • And how! Pretty much everyone bleeds profusely with no regard for the laws of biology.
    • Exaggerated when Mello gets his arm sliced off 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: Just about every other playable character besides Shank in both games are basically reskins of Shank, since they reuse all of his weapons, moves and playstyle. Downplayed in the Survival Mode from Shank 2, where they have different stats.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Shank has only two regular expressions: a menacing scowl and a tooth-clenched rage.
  • Platform Game: Though predominantly a Beat 'em Up, many levels include sequences of climbing, jumping and wall-running.
  • Pre-Asskicking 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 named "Shank" tearing through hordes of Mooks with shivs, so this is a given, though there are still plenty of badass women.
  • Red Is Heroic:
    • For a certain definition of heroic in the first game, Shank wears a red headband. In flashbacks and the co-op prequel, it was originally white until The Butcher fractured his skull, which led to the resulting blood coat the headband and give it its current color.
    • In the second game, Shank wears a red T-shirt to go along with his headband, which is fitting since he's now actively fighting for a more heroic cause (albeit reluctantly).
  • Reverse Grip: How Shank usually holds his shivs.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Shank 2 opens with a cutscene of 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 a 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 when he sees the cannibals eating their own leader's corpse.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Judging by how Shank pumps it, it's probably a lever-action shotgun, even though there's a pretty obvious absence of a lever.
  • Sinister Minister: Angelo dresses like this, although he's not really one, since he killed a priest and has been posing as him afterwards.
  • 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're sharp enough to decapitate a person.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps:
    • In the first game, Shank wears a light grey shirt with ripped sleeves.
    • Averted in the second game, where he wears a red T-shirt, though it does have small tears on the sleeves.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: You can continue to beat up enemies even after they've died.
  • 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.
  • Undead Counterpart: Zombie variants of the typical enemy types appear in a specific wave from time to time in Shank 2's Survival Mode. They're faster and deal more damage than their normal counterparts, but have the same amount of health.
  • Use Their Own Weapon Against Them: The counter-attacks in Shank 2 involve this, having Shank deal heavy damage to an enemy by using their weapons on them.
  • 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 him "I carry your son" just before she was killed.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Averted. Shank does it to Cassandra after the cutscene after 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, which is first shown when he comes to Club Stardust in the first game. There, he fights the fourth boss, Cassandra, who is a woman, and after he kills her, he takes on numerous other working girls in club.