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FTG Review: The Baconing (XBLA)

Peace reigns over the land of Spanktopia at last, thanks to the brave and mighty hero DeathSpank: Dispenser of Justice, Vanquisher of Evil and Hero to the Downtrodden. But the novelty of a quiet life is wearing thin, so what better way to spice things up than for our manliest of men to pop on a thong or two? Or three? Maybe even four…tell you what, make it five.  OK, six. The six Thongs of Virtue! What could possibly go wrong? Well apart from being caught in the act and having to either answer a number of awkward questions or dispose of any witnesses in the swiftest way possible, the creation of a monstrously evil Anti-Spank is what. The antithesis of all that is DeathSpank, the Anti-Spank can only be thwarted by destroying each piece of the jock’s sexy straps in the sizzling Fires of Bacon…mmmm…bacon….

Hothead Games’ The Baconing features DeathSpank in all new adventure, which sprinkles a little strategic warfare into the mix with added features like offensive and defensive use of your shield, a terrain scattered with handy cover, and improved enemy AI which ensures you’re swarmed by brutish enemies as soon as they spot you, whilst the long distance attackers hang back to take you down from afar, like yellow-bellied cowards. In addition to being able to bludgeon hostiles in the face with DeathSpank’s shield, their projectiles can also be commandeered as a part of your own arsenal with a well-timed ricochet that Captain America himself would be proud of. Charging long range weapons is another new addition that unleashes a powerful attack, but make sure you have the time and space to pull it off (that’s what she said! Oh dear…).

The Baconing

No role playing game would be complete without an extensive inventory of armor, accessories, weapons, potions, and lotions (well, maybe not lotions), and there are a lot. A number of items have elemental properties, such as the various incarnations of the flaming and ice blades, grenades, bolts and trinkets (the latter offering the player a percentage of resistance as opposed to an elementally enhanced attack). This allows you to tailor your loadout for your circumstance; but as slots in your inventory are limited, there’s a nifty option to have DeathSpank automatically kitted out in his best armor, allowing the more lazy gamer (or those who simply don’t care), to just grind up excess armor for a quick payout with a junk loot in-inventory “grinder” that turns your gear to cash, like so many treasured possessions in so many seedy, downtown pawnshops.

The Baconing is also host to a Fable 2-esque arena, where DeathSpank can prove his worth and test his mettle against a menagerie of monsters that become increasingly difficult to defeat with the progression of each round. The similarity to Peter Molyneux’s series doesn’t end there as with the third installment of Fable, The Baconing will have you running errands for the local inhabitants until the Wise Cows comes home. This may become a tad tiresome to those who were irked by this facet of Fable 3, particularly as the open world aspect of the previous DeathSpank titles has seemingly been swapped for themed areas, but all will be forgiven when you feast your eyes on the graphics.

 

The Baconing Inventory

The Baconing Inventory Screen

The environment is a blend of a 3D landscape and 2D features, creating a charming aesthetic full of character. The art style is further enriched with the in-game mood lighting, casting sinister shadows in the more dangerous areas and lightening the tone (quite literally) in others. As already mentioned, each area has its own theme, from the barren Mad Max-style Forbidden Zone to the blinking neon lights of Rainbow’s End. There’s also a nod to Tron in one of the areas, as well as a set of Tron-like armour to boot.

 

The Baconing Tron

But the references don’t end there; the writers have done a bang up job (even with the notable absence of Ron Gilbert) and true to the DeathSpank legacy, you will be more than adequately entertained. In a parallel universe, the animated series made the line-up for The What a Cartoon! Show, in the company of fellow narcissist Johnny Bravo and enjoyed a long run on the Cartoon Network (to critical acclaim) and spawned spin-offs for sidekicks Sparkles the Wizard and Bob from Marketing (the new guy). Full of barely concealed innuendo and rife with parodies, you’ll be chortling away well before The Godfather and 2001: A Space Odyssey jokes kick in.

The Baconing holds its own as a stand-alone title and as a continuation of the series, although the combat difficulty has been kicked up a notch from the original hack and slash fest with the new mechanics. You may find yourself dialing down the setting to easy after dying four or five times in as many minutes…but perhaps that was just me! Fans and newcomers alike will not be disappointed and if you have yet to acquaint yourself with the series go and do so immediately.

DISCLAIMER: NO REFUNDS OFFERED. PROLLY BEST TO DOWNLOAD THE DEMO TO AVOID POTENTIAL LITIGATION.


Editor’s note: the website received a review copy of the game.

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