Hello! I’m here to talk a bit about our newest PSN title — Shank 2! Honestly, it’s been a fantastic journey. We bet everything on the first game, and the fans both supported us and gave us meaningful feedback on the game. The encouragement has not only allowed us to survive and thrive, but gave us a huge reason to take a look at the game and make big improvements. I’m here to talk a bit about what we’ve been working on.
Let’s start with the art. As you may know, our entire art team consists of professional animators and painters from the 2D animation industry, and again Jeff Agala directed the visuals. The goal here was to blow away our previous fidelity and set a new bar for ourselves. To do that, we doubled the resolution of all the source character art to push the graphic novel style, adding a huge amount of extra detail to the environment and even doubling the amount of animation in the game.
We’ve also worked hard on making environments are far more interactive — collapsing ceilings, crumbling floors, fiery environments, barrels and other large objects that you can pick up and hurl.
And then there are the actual controls. Shank has always been about the smooth combat system. And not just any combat system, but one where you use all your weapons strung together — chainsaw your dude, stick him with knives, throw him in the air, shoot him a bunch of times, then stick a grenade down his throat, all in an amazing animated style.
So thinking about how to top that became a huge priority for us. In Shank 2, players not only get to carry their own weapons with new combos, grapples, grenades, and more, but we also get to use the enemies’ weapons… while the enemies are still holding them.
See the above image? That’s Shank taking the guy’s own shovel and barreling it into his chest. Once the dude is finished, Shank can pick up the shovel and use it, again with a whole new move set.
But probably the most important improvement is in responsiveness. This is probably where the most work came in. Literally, we threw away the old combat implementation and rewrote the entire thing from ground up. We built new tools to be able to more accurately map the hit regions, and paid huge attention to each frame. I can confidently say that Shank 2 is far more responsive. One particular improvement that I’m super happy with is that we now have 360 degree shooting — no longer is Shank locked to specific angles in firing his guns — he can point them in any direction, and we’ve been able to make it happen while keeping the artistry in the animation. That was quite a trick!
And finally, I’d like to touch on the brand new Survival Mode. This is our new mode where players fend off wave after harder wave of enemies, bombers, and bosses together with a friend.
What we learned from the Shank community is that, not only did they want to play together, they wanted to keep playing together. That’s why, instead of doing another co-op story as we did previously, we created an awesome Survival Mode because, as fans ourselves, we wanted a way to play Shank with our friends over and over. Now, instead of blowing through the game in one sitting, we get to have a challenging, replayable mode where cooperation and skill is absolutely key to survival. It’s a blast.
Over the next few months we’ll divulge more details about this new co-op mode, including the different maps, strategies in lasting longer, the different characters that you can use, and the in-game purchases that help you survive. And yes, this mode is online-enabled! Just the other day we had a smooooooth test session between Vancouver and San Francisco over the PSN Developer Network.