The Baconing Review
By Chad Montague |
Despite the omission of DeathSpank's name from the title, The Baconing is very much a typical DeathSpank game. Besides the thong-wearing hero with a funny name, the action-adventure hybrid maintains the old formula of hack n' slash combat paired with puzzles and quests. This familiarity is both a good and bad thing, depending on your level of love for the franchise.
I loved the first DeathSpank, which was released a year ago. The unique art style, sense of humor and wacky characters captured my attention for hours on end. When DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue was announced and released a few months after the first, I fiddled with it for a couple hours before setting it down and forgetting about it completely.
Unfortunately, The Baconing had a similar effect on me. If I'd had a choice I would've stopped playing after a few hours. I don't want to paint the picture that it's a terrible game, but it certainly didn't grab me the way the first did.
The Baconing Trailer
Hacking away at piles upon piles of enemies is satisfying at first, but it can become a mindless endeavor. The team at HotHead tried to spice the combat formula up a bit by adding a couple new features, namely a shield and mounds of terrain for cover, but I was so used to playing it the old way that I didn't change my strategy up too much. That meant I died more often since I didn't hide behind my shield, but there's still not much penalty for dying so I didn't mind.
Like the other games, The Baconing's story is goofy: DeathSpank has claimed all the thongs of power, gets bored, puts them all on at once and then creates the AntiSpank (basically a really evil, robotic version of DeathSpank). Before he can defeat it, he's told to burn the thongs one by one in the Fires of Bacon scattered around. Unfortunately, the entirety of the campaign feels more like a guided tour than an open world. You'll stick to a main path/area until you complete the task at hand (in this case, burning a thong in a bacon fire) and then move on. It's a very "rinse, repeat" style of gameplay, which I grew tired of.
Just like real bacon, behind the calories and fat there is some tasty goodness. The focus of this game is nabbing sweet loot, and there are lots of new weapons and armor sets to 'ooh' and 'ahh' at. The Weapons of Justice (basically souped up weapons with special power attacks) are pretty bad-ass, and include a dragon-assisted air assault and drills that pop up from the depths of the Earth to surprise your enemies.
There are five new effed up areas, including a twisted Disneyland rip-off, a retirement home for ancient Gods, a polluted lake and a leprechaun Las Vegas. They don't quite capture the magic of the first game's environments, but characters from the previous games make frequent cameos. HotHead's humor can also feel forced at times, for example, their depiction of Ganesha is more offensive than funny. I laughed out loud during the first game, but didn't at all during The Baconing.
This is a minor issue in the scheme of things, but the second to last boss in the game is one of the worst I've ever seen. You literally fight the same guy more than seven times, and the fight never evolves, it's the same every round. Not only did I want to throw my controller through the TV, I wanted to stop playing.
HotHead left two player co-op relatively untouched -- still offline only, you and the second player share a health bar. The new characters (Bob from Marketing and Tankko) are awesome, so it's a shame that most people won't be able to use them. Bob is a hammerhead shark in a business suit that shoots laser beams from his eyes and can dive underwater, while Tankko is a spider-human freak hybrid that can encase enemies in webs. In fact, they're more interesting than DeathSpank, so why aren't they starring in this game?