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The Baconing

Score: 80%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Valcon Games
Developer: Hothead Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:

The Baconing is the third game in the DeathSpank series, and while The Baconing doesn't have the hero's name in it's title, it is a direct continuation of the second game, Thongs of Virtue.

For those already familiar with the previous games, you will be happy to hear that the unique visual style continues on in this game. The 3D world is populated by 2D cardboard cutout representations of objects that only enhances the overall comic-book feel of the game. This design style is further reinforced by the coloring of the textures and the shading of the game. From the moment I booted up The Baconing, the idea of a comic-book videogame was apparent. Overall, the game is a visual treat.

Likewise, the audio goes a long way to adding personality to The Baconing. DeathSpank's over-the-top Batman-knockoff character shines not only in the crazy dialogue, but in the voice actor's portrayal of a not-quite-right Adam West. This, coupled with the game's background music, just helps to give a good overall action feel. The game's presentation definitly gets top marks.


Gameplay:

After the events of Thongs of Virtue, DeathSpank finds himself bored. He has defeated all of his enemies and there is no more evil in the world. The Baconing starts off with the bored superhero deciding to try on all six Thongs of Virtue at the same time. What results is a massive creature known as the Anti-Spank being born and tearing up the city.

In order to resolve this lack of judgment, DeathSpank must visit the six Fires of Bacon and destroy each thong one at a time. Basically, think Lord of the Rings, but with six Mordors and a lot more humorous action along the way.

Like its predecessors, The Baconing is Action/RPG all around. You will run through the various areas of the world taking out wave after wave of enemies, earning money to buy consumables like stat buffs and health regenerators all the while, slowly filling up your experience bar so you can level up and be a tougher hero than you were before.

Each level not only lets you add to various stats like your melee attack power or your overall health, but you will also gain the ability to use better armor and more powerful weapons, both of which are found in chests throughout the world. Weapons come in a few different flavors and include both ranged attacks and melee ones, and while they have a certain amount of physical damage they can deal, many also have an elemental add-on that has the potential to dish out even more damage if you are using it on the correct type of enemy.

The Baconing also sports a co-op mode where the second player can control one of several sidekicks. Each one of these characters have a unique feel to them that means most players who don't take up the DeathSpank mantle will be able to find a character that feels right to their play style.


Difficulty:

One aspect of The Baconing that really impressed me was it's length. I found there to be quite a lot of gameplay in this XBLA title. Getting through the game's first few quests before actually getting out of the city and searching for the Fires of Bacon took a surprisingly long amount of time. Even then, you have to fight your way to the locations.

Of course, a lot of the reason the game seemed to last as long as it did was because of how The Baconing has a tendency to clump together high concentrations of enemies, and I often found myself dying several times and getting sent back to the previous checkpoint before I could actually clear out an area. This became less of a problem as I progressed in the game and got a better handle on the elemental attributes for the weapons and got used to switching between different types when facing a mixed-type collection of creatures.


Game Mechanics:

The Baconing adds a new move to DeathSpank's abilities, a shield bash. This technique, as well as the shield's ability to reflect projectile weapons, is a blessing that you will find yourself using fairly frequently. As I mentioned above, the game tends to throw massive waves of enemies at you, and with some careful use of your shield, you can not only keep those pesky snipers at bay, but you can push back quite a bit on the horde of monsters invading your personal space. While the shield bash technique doesn't do as much, if any, damage, it can buy you precious moments while the enemies are stunned to take one or two out, or even replenish your health.

While The Baconing can be played as a stand-alone game, knowing the events of the previous games, or at least Thongs of Virtue will help a lot in the beginning when you are trying to get a feel for the game. Even if you haven't played the previous game though, The Baconing is a fun experience that provides a good bit of gameplay time.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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