The Baconing is the third adventure for DeathSpank; more commonly known as the ‘hero to the downtrodden’. Now it’s not necessary to have played the previous two games in the series but the storyline and humour will make a little more sense if you have. DeathSpank himself is a strange character if ever there was one. He features the strength and brutality of Marcus Fenix, combined with the bravado and stupidity of Zapp Brannigan (Futurama).
The game is set in a medieval world with a futuristic twist. One moment you can be battling orcs and dragons with a trusty blade, the next you’ll be throwing grenades inside a casino full of fruit machines. It deliberately doesn’t make any sense and that’s one of the reasons you’ll laugh your head off whilst you play – but more on that later. Oh and did I mention the game world is called Spanktopia?
Story wise; The Baconing carries on right where the last game left off. After collecting the six magical Thongs of Virtue we thought the world would be safe forever. The problem is that DeathSpank is just too stupid, instead of just destroying of the powerful thongs once and for all, he decides to put them all on. Well everyone knows that that wearing them all at once is asking for trouble, all that power and magic was never meant to be used at once by just one man – even if that man was DeathSpank.
The resulting catastrophe went as follows. The power of the Thongs of Virtue created a new hideous alter-ego of DeathSpank; one that is totally evil, supremely nasty, and in no way wanting to bring justice to the world. This AntiSpank is so powerful that only by destroying the Virtuous Thongs will DeathSpank even have a chance of defeating him. So why’s the game called The Baconing? Well it’s quite simple really, turns out those Thongs that DeathSpank needs to destroy are almost indestructible. Only the hottest flame known to Spank will be able to incinerate them, Bacon Fires.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, you take control of DeathSpank. Despite the opening of the game being quite frantic with many enemies running towards you, this isn’t actually an all out action game. Once you’ve passed through the first few waves of enemies you’ll have already amassed a few items dropped by your fallen foes. You’ll pickup plenty of obvious things such as; food, potions and ammo. You see DeathSpank is actually a storybook style role playing game…of sorts.
Every time you dispatch an enemy your level up meter will gradually fill. Progressing from level one to twenty will take plenty of time, all the while you’ll find new armour, items and weapons that require your skill level to be high enough to use. The higher the level the more damage your weapons cause to your foes and the better your armor resists enemy attack. At anytime you can jump into the menu and adjust what weapons and items you have equipped, as well as what armor you’re wearing.
Now here’s something I find odd. Many of the bits of armor and items you’ll find have special properties that protect you more from certain types of enemy attack such as; Fire, Ice and Undead, etc. You’ll typically find such equipment before you’ll need it, either in chests or from the dead bodies of your enemies or those of fallen warriors. However by default the game automatically equips you with the best protection that is possible from your load out – there’s no need to go into the menu and switch it around. Yes you can disable the automation of armor equipping but why put yourself at such a disadvantage?
At least when it comes to your weapons and potions you have a free choice of your load out. You have 8 equipment slots mapped to the four face buttons and the DPad – simply pop into the equipment menu and assign what you want, where you want it. Personally I preferred to have my food and potions on the DPad and the Weapons on the face buttons.
The potions you’ll find are fairly typical, health increase, speed boosts and extra armor. Many of these will only last for a few seconds – luckily you’ll find plenty of them about! Now there are too many weapons to mention but they tend to fall into three categories; melee, long distance and justice.
- Melee Weapons are what you’d expect, swords and axes etc.
- Long Distance Weapons include crossbows and grenades.
- Justice Weapons are over the top and awesome. After successive enemy kills and your Justice Meter is full you’ll be able to unleash a huge burst of power upon your enemies. Think massive explosions, spinning blades and drilling spikes bursting through the ground.
In general you’ll be walking around battling enemies and helping out the occasional non-playing character with a task or puzzle. Honestly it’s all simple stuff, usually the case of finding an item that someone wants and taking it back to them. Occasionally they’ll be something a bit trickier like a series of bridges that need to be raised in a correct order – but don’t fear, The Baconing is no puzzle game and you’ll probably never get stuck for more than 10 minutes. But if you do then you can use a fortune cookie to get a hint, no problemo!
As a game The Baconing is a little repetitive and not quite as rewarding as I’d have hoped. The RPG system is all but useless and because DeathSpank can respawn an infinite amount of times – there’s no need to really worry about dying. Where the game comes into its own is the humor – it truly is laugh out loud funny. Describing the humor is never going to work in a review but if like me you’re a fan of Futurama, Southpark and The Simpsons, you’ll no doubt love the deadpan jokes and quips that DeathSpank comes out with at every possible occasion.
Graphically The Baconing is pretty sweet, the crisp HD visuals help recreate a very pretty looking gothic 2D/3D storybook world. If you’ve played Super Paper Mario then the idea of 2D sprites layered on a 3D world will not be anything new, it’s like walking through a gratuitous diorama full of explosions. Those of you with ears will not be disappointed with the fantastic voice acting, sound effects and soundtrack – anyone for some gothic orchestral rock? Yes please!
The Baconing is essential for fans of the two previous DeathSpank games, I’m not sure if I can recommend it to those that are totally new to the series. Not because it’ll be too tough but I think to appreciate the story it’ll be better to go back and play from the start first. My advice is to seek out the original which will likely be at a cheaper discounted price, then if you like it come back and get the follow ups right away. The Baconing receives a rather good 7 out of 10.
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