|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Hothead Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 22, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by James Trujillo
Who would have thought that DeathSpank would have something in common with Sisqo? No, hes not an ex-R&B singer struggling to re-emerge in the spotlight. As hilarious as that would have been as a plot point, it just isnt so. However, they both have quite an interesting affiliation with thongs. Yes, you read that right. Thongs. Not only are they a feminine fashion statement, but in the world of DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue, they are the heroic undergarments of power, justice, and wedgies.
If you missed out on the original DeathSpank, which was released just barely over two months ago, then you surely missed out on something special. The game received fairly high-praise for its slapstick-wit and polished gameplay. With that in mind, this newly released sequel doesnt feel too far off, especially considering they were both developed around the same time.
The storyline for Thongs of Virtue continues just after the events of the first game, where the enigmatic DeathSpank had just discovered that his entire lifes quest was a lie. He proceeds to travel north in search of answers, but is captured by his enemies and left to rot away in a POW camp. After a short escape from the prison camp, DeathSpank reunites with his old friend Sandy who helps him to continue his quest. She reveals information concerning the Order of the Thong, six individuals granted six magical thongs, forged in the Fires of Bacon, who were corrupted by an evil force within the mighty unmentionables. DeathSpank, not being known to turn down a call from the downtrodden, jumps at the opportunity to once again become a Dispenser of Justice in the trials ahead. So now its up to him to recover these mysterious thongs and set right the wrongs of the world.
With all this talk about thongs, you have to realize that this game is known for its sense of humor. There is so much jovial wit crammed into this game that its hard to know where to begin, but fans of TV shows like The Tick and The Venture Bros. will feel familiar with DeathSpanks style of absurdity. From the dialogue, item descriptions, and everything in-between, youll be fighting off random fits of laughter that will make your cheeks ache. Aside from its ridiculous sense of humor, the game has also built a very solid foundation of gameplay within its action role-playing genre.
At first glance it may seem like your basic hack-and-slash title, but there are a few subtleties within the combat system to avoid repetition. Weapons and items can be quipped to any face button or spot on the d-pad to give you plenty of options during battle scenarios. Within this context, the developers at Hothead Games have granted players a small combo system that lets you string a series of multipliers together, provided that you alternate weapons with each assault. Not only does it make your attacks stronger with each swing, but it also allows you to perform a knock-back strike on your seventh multiplier. This can be pretty useful when opposing more powerful foes, in conjunction with performing perfect blocks to help build up your Justice Meter.
The Justice Meter is responsible for unleashing unique attacks specific to various Weapons of Justice that can be found throughout your quest. This gauge is represented by a demonic-looking head at the center of your health bar, and can be filled by killing enemies and performing perfect blocks during combat. Once it is full, you can use any currently equipped Weapon of Justice to trigger a unique move. These actions are far more powerful than your standard weapon attacks, and can help turn the tides of battle to your favor in a pinch.
The combat surely isnt the most engaging part of the game, however, true loot-mongers will have plenty to keep themselves occupied with the amount of weapons and items it has. Melee weapons include anything from swords, axes, and hammers to your random construction items, like shovels and sledgehammers. Long-range weapons consist of anything from machine-guns, hand grenades and bazookas, to even alien ray guns. Luckily, the inventory system is something you can wrap your ahead around pretty easily, and if youre familiar with any sort of role-playing game itll be a cake-walk. There is even a box you can check that will automatically adorn you with the best armor possible.