The Baconing (XBLA) Review
Posted by Adam Larck on 09.06.2011
Does the third DeathSpank game suffer from Gilbertís departure? Find out inside.
Title: The Baconing
Publisher: Valcon Games
Developer: Hothead Games
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 youíve 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, youíll 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 canít 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, donít 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, youíll be respawning a decent amount of times, with rage building each time.
The balance isnít 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, youíll 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 humorís still there, it just seems a bit more forced now.
DeathSpank is still up front and blunt with anyone he talks with, and thereís 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 theyíve had ample time to install it in, yet they still didnít want to. Itís a shame, too, since one of the upgrades revolves around co-op and many players wonít get to experience it.
As far as graphics and sound goes, thereís 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, youíll immediately recognize the game as part of the DeathSpank series.
Easy gameplay to pick up and go.
Decent amount of quests to go through.
Some humorous moments in the game.
Enemies seem pretty unbalanced.
Still no online co-op.
Game really isnít changed from the last two.
Honestly, I think this series should have been shelved after Gilbert left. Nothingís 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, thereís just not much here to warrant this game over any of the others in the series.
The art style and characters all still look the same. They arenít the best, but they arenít the worst, theyíre just average.
The gameplay is simple enough to pick up, but balancing seems to have been thrown out the window. In addition, the quests just seem blander than in the last games.
The voices are still entertaining to listen too, and the music is decent as well.
After you beat the quests, there really isnít much more to do in the world. Sure, thereís an insane mode to try, but youíll probably be tired of the game by then.
I enjoyed the first two games, but this newest one just left me feeling ok. There were moments of fun, but other moments had me wanting to switch to another game quickly.