South Park – The Stick of Truth | PC
Dev: Obsidian Entertainment | Pub: Ubisoft
All together now…
This new South Park game is an RPG featuring all the ‘Park gang in some typically outlandish situations involving aliens, Canadians, MenBearPigs and Taco Bell. Despite its troubled development and changes in publisher, SOT has actually ended up a high quality, polished product which manages that very difficult job of appealing to hardcore fans of the series as well as newbies.
South Park owes quite a debt to Double Fine’s awesome kid-starring role player, Costume Quest. Both games use the mechanic of a child’s imagination powering their struggles with real-world assailants, you and your little friend’s dressing-up games turning you into superheroes. Where Costume Quest was Halloween themed, Stick of Truth draws on the comedic value inherent in the generic fantasy RPG. Once it has had its’ fun with those clichés however, it expands its scope to something with greater breadth.
Like the TV program upon which it is based, South Park pushes the boundaries of taste. Quite to what extent this will impact upon your enjoyment of the game is up to you to decide. If you think that jokes about rape, abortion and cancer have no place in your video games, you should steer well clear of this title.
For those of you who remain, South Park’s irreverent and crude world is there for you to explore. You will wander around, collecting loot and weapons whilst periodically getting into turn-based encounters with a variety of enemies. Attacks are often gross – more extreme examples include a female character throwing her used tampon at the boys. Farting on your foes is frequent, but for the most part it’s fairly standard ‘hit-enemy-A-with-weapon-rinse-and-repeat’ fare. Although one of the summons does involve Mr. Slave sucking enemies up his ass – so, you know, it rarely gets boring.
It does however offer quite different experiences depending on your familiarity with the franchise.
There’s no way I’m writing five separate reviews for five different types of people who might approach this game, dude. That’s weak.
1. Review for: People who read the opening quote and immediately starting singing the song and farting. You remember watching the movie when it came out in cinemas.
You’ve probably already bought this game from ASDA, and good for you! It’s like playing a 20 hour long episode of South Park, featuring all of your favourite characters from the series. No anal probing is left unreferenced. The experience is going to be one long fist-pumping exercise in nostalgia and gross-out jokes with some annoying ‘game’ elements littering your good time. You know what to do though, right? Hell, you already completed COD: Ghosts this year and totally smashed your mate Darren off the park in FIFA so you’re still a gamer.
This game has an autosave feature, so when Jo-ann tells you it’s time to ‘switch that thing off now’, you won’t lose any progress. Isn’t that super?
2. Review for: People who watch South Park all the time. You have a plush Cartman in your house and know what Kenny says in the opening credits.
You should definitely buy this. Trust me. You’re going to think this is a laugh riot. Matt and Trey wrote the script for the game and all the voices are present and correct. The Goth kids are suitably surly and – if you choose – Butters can take a major part in the action.
You’ll be quite happy to spend endless hours finding any extra little collectible and secret thing – and it will all be worth it.
3. Review for: People who remember South Park from the early days and watch it occasionally. You clicked on the link and laughed at the song.
This game could be for you – it depends on how much you’re going to enjoy the RPG experience. To get the most from the game, you’re going to need to explore every nook and cranny in this town. How do you feel about adding a couple of hours to the title as a result of searching for those last couple of Chimpokomon? You get an achievement out of it…
Try to complete the whole thing in a weekend if you can, or your enjoyment will wane. There are some pretty obvious optimal equipment sets and team mates to have, so you should be able to power through the game without much challenge.
4. Review for: People who don’t give a shit about South Park, didn’t click the link, but have an interest in RPG titles.
Tough sell, as this game is South Park through and through. The role-playing in this isn’t quite enough to sustain the game by itself – as the game points out, a lot of the questing is generic and pointless – and a lot of the rewards are just further references to the show. The game doesn’t want to throw up too much in the way of a barrier to you progressing through the main story, since it’s very pleased with and excited by the jokes it wants to tell. Not to say that SOT is a bad game by any stretch – it’s just that you’ll enjoy it less than your mate who is a big South Park fan.
5. Review for: The easily offended, who thought South Park had gone away years ago.
At the end of the day, South Park – The Stick of Truth is the definitive South Park game without being a truly great RPG. It has many things going for it, but the shallow combat and under-developed item system means that an important chunk of the game is weak. Couple this with the facile puzzles and you have an entertaining one-shot title that uses gaming as a vehicle to provide some laughs. You get to decide for yourselves if it’s the kind of humour you enjoy.
Reviewer: Karlos Morale
South Park: The Stick of Truth is out now for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3