OUTSIDER GAMING: SHANK
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Released: Summer 2010
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Of all the games hitting the hideous media circle-jerk that is E3 this week, Shank is pretty much the only one I care about (apart from Deus Ex: Human Revolution, The Last Guardian, Metroid: Other M, Dead Rising 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Deathspank, and Fable III). Anyway, here's Shank's trailer. Sorry about the age gate.
Shank takes the very little that's good about Robert Rodriguez's brand of Mexploitation and turns it into a lurid, Disneyfied brawler. Sure, it might seem like Shank violates the rules of Outsider Gaming because it's being published by EA, but I don't really care. I like it when people sell out. I like seeing Iggy Pop shill insurance. Video games aren't hardcore punk; every developer wants to see a dollar.
So yeah, Shank started out as a little independent game and was scoffed up by EA. Why this is good for you and me is that this allowed Jamie Cheng and Jeffery Agala at Klei Entertainment to spend time making the game bigger and better. It even allowed them to buy a writer, God of War's Marianne Krawczyk, to stitch together the limb-hewing with some narrative.
I like my murder balletic. When I played Assassin's Creed II, I would spend at least half an hour at a time just jumping from rooftops and stabbing guards through the throat with Ezio's hidden blade because it looked so beautiful. In fact, replaying this in my mind helps me get to sleep. So Shank is awesome because it's basically hundreds of these little murder moments happening every minute.
Even better, similar to beat 'em up classics Final Fight and Streets of Rage, Shank's enemies all have names. Every time you smack one, their wee life metre pops up with their name. That way you can imagine the lives Dante, Donnie, and Toro might have led as you chainsaw their stomachs into a burst of red pixels. Really, gamers really need to think more about the virtual people they murder.
Shank's release date is currently set to vague summer, but should be announced at E3.