games / Reviews

The Baconing (XBLA) Review

September 6, 2011 | Posted by Adam Larck

Title: The Baconing
Publisher: Valcon Games
Developer: Hothead Games
Genre: Action-RPG
Players: 1-2 local
Rated: T for Teen

Can the departure of a designer really affect a game?

Sure, we may never notice the lesser-known designers when they leave. But, will we take note when Modern Warfare 3 releases without West and Zampella?

I pose this question because what is DeathSpank without the creative mind of Ron Gilbert behind it? Sure, The Baconing still has the core mechanics that the last two games had, but is that humorous spark lost?

The third game in the trilogy picks up after the ending of the second game where DeathSpank lives with all the Thongs of Justice. Come to find out, the thongs have spawned an AntiSpank, a Spank of pure evil. Long story short, you have to destroy the thongs in Bacon Fires to put an end to the AntiSpank.

If you’ve played the last games in the series, then you know what to expect in this one. You keep completing quests and killing enemies with one of four weapons, assigned to your face buttons, and keep doing so until you hit the max level and beat the game. Along the way, you’ll use Weapons of Justice to use special abilities, as well as using plenty of potions and food for health.

Sure, it sounds monotonous, but, like a good dungeon crawler, you get a decent amount of loot to keep you going. Loot is still leveled, so you can’t use a piece of top gear until you hit the higher levels.

One difference is in the quests. There seems to be a lot less puzzle-type quests that the last games had. There are a few, don’t get me wrong, such as a few of the quests with Zimon, but most quests just have you killing enemies to do a simple task before moving on.

And here lies one of the biggest problems with this game, the enemies. For some reason, balance went right out the window with them. Even on the easier difficulties, you can quickly get swarmed and killed in a few blows by enemies that are lower level then you.

The worst part about this is the ranged enemies. Sure, the melee enemies can cause good damage, but you can dispatch them easily. However, the range enemies can take considerable chunks of life off with just an arrow or two. When you get three or four of these together, you’ll be respawning a decent amount of times, with rage building each time.

The balance isn’t just off on enemies attacking you, though. I had times where I would come up against an enemy 3 or 4 levels higher than me, shoot a charged bow shot and instantly kill them. There is no way this should happen, yet it happened multiple times.

Boss battles also have the problem of repetition. The bosses have way too many hit points, but not enough difference in strategy throughout the fight. So, you’ll know the pattern early on and spend the next five minutes whittling down health until you finally kill it and move on.

Getting back to the point I made earlier, does the loss of Gilbert hurt the humor in the game? Well, yes and no. The humor’s still there, it just seems a bit more forced now.

DeathSpank is still up front and blunt with anyone he talks with, and there’s still humorous banter between quest givers, along with random laughs along with way, such as the (dysfunctional) Nuclear Family. But, mixed in with those laughs are some cheap laughs as well, including a reference to the CSI: Miami intro.

Also like in the last games, co-op is back. However, Hothead has still decided to keep it local co-op only. Now, I can understand the first two games not having online since they were released so close together. But, with this game they’ve had ample time to install it in, yet they still didn’t want to. It’s a shame, too, since one of the upgrades revolves around co-op and many players won’t get to experience it.

As far as graphics and sound goes, there’s not much to report changed from the last game. The voices and music is similar, and the graphics style remains the same. Except for the new scenery, you’ll immediately recognize the game as part of the DeathSpank series.

Pros

  • Easy gameplay to pick up and go.
  • Decent amount of quests to go through.
  • Some humorous moments in the game.

    Cons

  • Enemies seem pretty unbalanced.
  • Still no online co-op.
  • Game really isn’t changed from the last two.

    The 411:

    Honestly, I think this series should have been shelved after Gilbert left. Nothing’s wrong with it per say, except for enemy balancing, but nothing has been changed from the last two games. If you loved the last two games and just want to see the continuing saga of DeathSpank, then I say check it out. Otherwise, there’s just not much here to warrant this game over any of the others in the series.

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    Adam Larck

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