Greetings, again, taco wench.
DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue is what happens when you strap The Tick into a purple thong of Justice and send him on an epic quest to vanquish evil, rescue the downtrodden, and eat tacos. Bold, righteous, and selectively clueless, DeathSpank is the type of hero that would look at a fiery sword and ask, "But is it spicy?" You might think he's being silly, but the Jalapeño Sword isn't too farfetched in his world: That's just the kind of game DeathSpank – and subsequently, Thongs of Virtue – is all about.
[image1]After dethroning Lord Von Prong and stripping him of his thong and his thongly powers in the original game, DeathSpank set off into the sunset, strutting away from the fantasy world of the past and into the bomb-littered battlefield of the modern world. Four thongs still remain, each corrupting their wearer into a twisted human being with too much goodness and self-justified homicide. To bring peace and justice back to the world, DeathSpank must venture through a pastiche of strung-together lands populated by cowboys, aliens, robots, leprechauns, pirates, ninjas, teleporting outhouses, and stoopid rabbits.
Apart from the setting, new lines of humorous dialogue, and adventure-style puzzles, Thongs of Virtue is an exact duplicate of the original title. It doesn't matter whether DeathSpank was Level 20 with an inventory packed with cash and epic armor of awesomeness at the end of the previous game; he still begins this sequel at Level 1, with nothing but POW rags and a potato peeler. The only difference now is that he can reach Level 21, but that's a moot point.
Combat works exactly as it did before. You attack with one of four equipped weapons, switch between short-range swords and long-range projectiles (pistols here), and if you're smart, block the rest of the time. The basic strategy is to lock on an enemy and weave in and out of its attack range, while occasionally unleashing a special attack with a purple weapon whenever the Justice meter is full. Though flamethrowers, bazooka-armed orcs, and some bosses can put up a tough fight, no enemy should make you respawn more than once; that is, if you've got grenades, elemental bazookas, and a whole lot of health potions.
[image2]Unfortunately, several problems remain unaddressed. Purple weapons automatically expend the Justice meter if it's filled when used, while the option to swing it like a normal weapon as usual is strangely disabled. Enemies still have an irritating escape script where if they travel too far away from their original spawn point, they will immediately turn around, flee back to that spot, and regain all of their health. It's supposed to give you the perfect escape route, but it also effectively discourages retreat tactics. It's also lazy that some side quests, particularly the spelunker, Thongolith, and greem extermination, are copied straight from the original.
With a rehashed battle system and a story very loosely tied together by tight underwear, Thongs of Virtue is not as cohesive nor as innovative as its predecessor. But it feels overbearing to criticize an unflinchingly goofy 15-hour adventure that couldn't take itself any less seriously if it tried. A low-priced downloadable action RPG with spunk and humor is exactly what gaming needs right now. Really, DeathSpank can hit me up anytime… uh, that came out wrong…