Shank 2

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Shank 2 Game Poster Image
Polished bloody 2-D beat-'em-up glorifies violence.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Glorifies bloody, grisly combat and suggests violence is the only solution to conflict. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Shank's on a mission to save an innocent. The people he fights and kills are fascists up to no good. But none of his in-game behavior sets a good example.

Ease of Play

Challenging but fair. Experienced combat strategists making use of all weapons and moves will have a pretty easy time. Less sophisticated play can still be successful.


Knives, guns, and grenades are used to kill and maim hundreds of cartoonish enemy characters. Blood splashes from enemies. Heads get chopped off, grenades are detonated in mouths. Cries of pain frequently heard.


Some females dressed in revealing outfits exposing cleavage, jiggling bosoms.


"S--t," "f--k," and "damn" used frequently.


Sequel to original Shank, a popular indie game.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug cartels mentioned in dialogue. Shank drinks alcohol on camera.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shank 2 is a cartoonish downloadable side-scrolling 2-D beat-'em-up game with lots of extremely bloody violence. Knife and gun combat are intermingled throughout, with players slashing one second and firing a weapon the next. Cries of pain and plumes of crimson erupt from enemies with each strike. The camera sometimes slows down the action and lightly blurs the rest of the scene to focus sharply on especially powerful attacks. Players also will encounter frequent strong language (including "f--k"), alcohol and references to drugs, and female characters dressed in skimpy outfits with enhanced bouncing breasts.  

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What's it about?

SHANK 2 continues the story of the series titular hero, a hit-man-turned-vengeance-seeker. After the events of the first game, in which he exacted revenge on his old gang for murdering his girlfriend, Shank returns to his home country, the government of which has been overthrown by militia rebels. He discovers the rebels have kidnapped someone he knows and intend to use her for nefarious purposes, so he sets out on a rescue mission. As in the original, all the action is presented as 2-D side-scrolling cartoons. Shank uses a mix of guns and knives, employing both in devastating and extremely bloody combinations. Unlike in the first game, there's no local cooperative story campaign. Instead, Shank 2 offers an online survival mode in which two players work together to defend objectives and repel waves of attackers.  

Is it any good?

Shank 2 is largely more of the same artistically rendered fighting that made the original a hit but with slightly improved graphics and a slightly more frenetic pace of play, encouraging players to keep moving, dodging, and attacking. The knife- and gun-based combat is more graceful than before, with a minor remapping of some controls that keeps players from stumbling over certain actions, such as regaining health. Plus, enemies are a bit more diverse than before, forcing players to regularly learn how to deal with new patterns of attack.

Perhaps the best reason to give this sequel a shot, though, is the new co-op survival mode. It's not about completing the story but instead working together with another player to survive wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies, reviving one another as needed and earning better weapons along the way. There are only three maps, but the action is addictive enough to keep co-op fans playing for hours. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Have you chatted with your kids about the violence they see in games? How do you think virtual violence affects their perception of real-world violence?

  • Discuss depictions of women in games. What do you think of the sexualized female non-playable characters in this game? Compare them to the playable female character in co-op.

Game details

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
  • Price: $14.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Electronic Arts
  • Release date: February 8, 2012
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Topics: Adventures
  • ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

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