Tuesday, August 7, 2012

GOT 'IM - DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue

If this seems like an incredibly short time to post a review after the big FF XII piece, then, well, I finished this game an incredibly short time after beating FF XII. It's my fourth HotHead game in two years, DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue.

I'm noticing a pattern with HotHead; their sequels are always incredibly similar-bordering-on-fucking-identical to their predecessors. The two Penny Arcade games were nearly identical in gameplay and basic framework, and the same is true for the first two DeathSpank games. I played and finished each of those in the past eighteen months, so you can find their reviews right here: Rain-Slick 1, Rain-Slick 2, and DeathSpank.

If you read that first DeathSpank review, you'll get a good idea for how Thongs of Virtue works. The first two DeathSpank games were developed side-by-side, and it shows. Thongs of Virtue looks, sounds, and plays almost identically to its predecessor, and when it's different it's usually a little better. On a story front, they're extremely direct sequels. The title hero has two of the six sacred thongs in his possession, and in this sequel he must locate the other four. What results is a mostly-linear, mostly-hilarious, mostly-enjoyable Diablo-esque run-around.

The major gameplay change here is with ranged weapons. DeathSpank uses them like items, and it's way better than the crossbow bullshit from the first game. Melee, shields, and gratuitous healing item consumption are in about the same place they were before. Thongs of Virtue has a few alternative gameplay modes, notably the pirate ship sidequest and a modest selection of Player 2 characters in case you want a temporary, silent companion to join you.

In general, Thongs of Virtue is bigger and better than Orphans of Justice. It has more bosses and environments, a large, weird world to explore, and several extra tidbits for fans that want to wring a little bit more fun out. It's probably a little easier, if only because ranged attacks are better and the enemies scale more easily. If you do about 80% of the sidequests in Thongs of Virtue, you'll hit the max level easily. Not the case in the first game, which requires a moderate grind for the final bits.

Look, just read the review of the first one. Thongs of Virtue is basically more DeathSpank, except its story reaches an oddly... poignant conclusion that I sure as hell wasn't expecting. There are some neat design elements here and there, the action is intense and usually pretty fun, and the game's dialog is often gut-bustingly funny. If you watch a trailer or see a few minutes of gameplay, you'll probably know whether you want to play DeathSpank or not. I know there's a third game out and a fourth in the works, but I don't really need them. It's been a good ride, but my DeathSpank career is over.

Games Beaten: 2012 Edition

1. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
2. Radiant Historia
3. Mass Effect
4. Mass Effect 2
5. Breath of Death VII: The Beginning (Hard mode)
6. Grandia II
7. On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness - Episode 2
8. Mass Effect 3
9. Journey
10. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
11. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
12. Star Ocean: Second Evolution
13. Red Dead Redemption
14. Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3
15. Persona 3 FES
16. Final Fantasy XII
17. DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue

Targets: 6/12


I'm still deciding on what to do for my next target, so in the meantime I'm going to finish up my playthrough of Super Mario Galaxy that I started last December. It's about 60% done and it's not a terribly long game, so I think I can finish it before the end of the week.

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