Just over a year ago, a little XBLA game called Shank was released. A cartoon-style combat platformer inspired by the works of Tarantino and Rodriguez, it featured plenty of blades, ultra-bloody attacks, and beer bottles as health pick-ups. Seems like pretty standard gaming fare for the adult grindhouse audience, right?
Problem is, the game opened with an disturbing sequence in which our hero’s girlfriend was kidnapped by a man who was very obviously intent on rape. I covered my issues with this in a post back in February, On Games and Rape Culture. At the EA showcase last week, I had the chance to ask creative director Jeff Agala what the hell they were thinking when they opened a game with a rape scene.
“When we saw those comments [about the rape story], it didn’t come off the way we wanted it to come off. We wanted to give Shank motivation – what would motivate someone to kill a thousand people? Murder kinda doesn’t just… it was a hard thing” he told us. “Marianne Krawczyk the writer, she wrote our story. She wrote God of War as well so she has a tendency to do very violent [storylines]. It’s funny ’cause it connected to males. It’s a very male-oriented plot. She’s really good at writing that kind of story.”
Agala told me that on seeing her work, they ran the storyline past the other women in the company. “We believe in our artists. We gave her hard boundaries and this is what she came up with.” Still, the reaction from the community was such that the team decided never to go down that route again. “We have a responsibility to the public and the reality is that we didn’t want to be that part of the media. We cut that out of the game. It was a pretty easy decision. It wasn’t even part of Shank 2.”
I took a look at Shank 2 during the showcase. As with Shank, it’s a solid platform beat-’em-up. In this sequel, they’ve given Shank a female friend, who leads a rebellion against the corrupt militia that are taking over Shank’s town. You can also use her for online and local co-op play.
Rather than my describing features to you, here’s a gameplay video. Apologies for the banal commentary. You can mute it if you like. You won’t miss anything.
Shank 2 will be out on XBLA, PS3 and PC some time in 2012.
Debbie owns and runs The Average Gamer. She started her gaming addiction during the mid-eighties on a lovely green Amstrad CPC64. From those early days of The Hobbit (say to Thorin “Carry me please”) she graduated to Lucasarts adventures and western C-RPGs. A few years of Discworld MUD addiction followed. Eventually she found first-person shooters, Japanese RPGs and Soul Calibur, and is now a fully-rounded gamer.
You can find her on Twitter as Weefz