So I bet you clicked on this expecting to read a review about how incredible this game is. You thought you’d see paragraph upon paragraph talking about the games great combat mechanics, awesome cut-scenes and it’s without a doubt glorious storyline, right?! Well, you’re mostly right.
South Park: The Stick of Truths announcement was met with mixed praise, many people saying it would turn out to be an awful game with the South Park name slapped on while others, myself included, thought it would be a great idea! With Trey Parker and Matt Stone deeply involved throughout the games production from writing the scripts to consulting on its design and of course, voicing many of the games characters, just as they do in the show. What could go wrong?!
The game did have a bit of trouble making its way onto the shelves as its release date was pushed back multiple times, from its original release in March 2013 to its eventual release in March 2014. It switched hands with publishers after THQ went bankrupt and many thought the game wouldn’t make it to retail but thankfully Ubisoft swooped in and grabbed it at auction, saving the day.
So with Ubisoft picking up the publisher banner and the development team of both South Park Studios and Obsidian, how does one of my most anticipated games of 2014 come together? Let’s take a look.
The Stick of Truth starts as it means to begin, with a ridiculous introduction you might recognise from, well any RPG you’ve ever played. Cartman narrates it and describes a devastating war between the mighty KKK (Kingdom of Kupa Keep) and the Eleven Kingdom, over the Stick of Truth, a weapon so powerful that he who wields it can bend the very universe to his will. It’s your stereotypical epic story but we’ll round back to that. Where the story truly beings is with the arrival of you, The New Kid in the little town of South Park, Colorado. After a brilliant and creative character creation screen, you move into your new home as your own personalised New Kid but right away something seems weird, your parents are shifty and you feel like you’ve moved here for some untold reason. Though who the hell cares about that crap, to quote your father “Get out there and make some friends!”
If you don’t leave your house quick enough you get tossed out by your dad and go off in search of friends and right away the game is great. I don’t quite know how to describe the graphics in this game, the game takes place on a 2-D-esque plane but even then to call what this game runs on graphics wouldn’t be right. It’d call it more animation, in that it feels just like an episode of the show, just a little more interactive. Even the way we start off the game, punching a kid who seems to be bullying little Butters feels perfectly natural, upon saving him he brings us to Kupa Keep (Cartmans backyard) and to avoid spoilers I will simply say our adventure begins there!
The game has a fun tutorial wherein Cartman guides you through the “rules” of how they battle. Since the whole thing is essentially one big LARP it keeps well with the way the combat works, being turn based but not in the traditional way. When it’s your turn to go you select what you want to do and depending on what you choose you get a variety of button prompts to put some real damage into your attack, if you hit them correctly you get an almighty critical bonus but if you miss you do next to no damage. This really helps to keep what could be an otherwise boring combat system and makes it fun and engaging, though I could do with less of the combat buddies chastising me for taking my time choosing my attacks, the amount of times I’ve heard “Dude, come on haul some ass” or “So are you done yet?” makes it slowly nibble on your nerves.
The combat in the game also has its own hilarious take on magic. Most of it entirely revolves around the mighty flatulence of the characters in game. You heard it right. I mean what else would it be right? It’s a South Park game and damned if it doesn’t work well in it, with four different types of fart which you can utilize in combat and outside of it to move boulders, break down doors and set fire to piles of random crap. Literally!
The game does a great job of building an epic story out of what is by all accounts ridiculous, having us laughing and yet still going along with a well written storyline. Exactly like an episode of South Park. That one statement can pretty much encapsulate the entire game and it’s one I’ve heard from everyone who has played it, “It’s like being in an episode of South Park!” and I completely agree with them. It harkens back to older episodes of South Park, including the very first episode by having your character abducted by aliens and being anally probed, providing you with a new way to get to previously unlocked areas through Anal Probe Teleportation. The game has also managed to offend many people greatly, in typical South Park fashion, with things such as vicious anal probing, an abortion minigame, collecting sex toys for Mr. Slave and Cartmans mom and a battle that takes place underneath your parents, while they have engage in the No Pants Tango.
A lot of people complained about the region specific censorship in the game, for instance the abortion scene minigame I just mentioned and the anal probing. I mentioned them but I didn’t get to see them myself because my country had them censored but I can’t fault the creators for that, they even leave little panels in place of the event explaining what happened in the scene we missed just so we aren’t entirely left out.
The soundtrack is brilliant, thematic, hilarious and never dull for a moment. Like the rest of the game even the soundtrack pokes fun at popular tropes in video games with the City Streets 1 track containing a layover of Cartmans voice saying nothing but “Sanctus, Sanct” over and over, making fun of the epic choir music in most RPG soundtracks. Admittedly it also has some badass lute/flute stuff going on in there too.
You can choose sides between the elves and the KKK and you even visit a nice Legend of Zelda inspired Canada to fight Direwolves and Direbears – “They’re like bears but dire”. Throughout the game you gain Mr Slave, Mr Hankey, The City Wok owner and once you manage to Find Jesus, you gain Jesus himself, all as summons. Characters old and new all make their way into the game, some as friends, some as enemies and some who dance over the line between the two.
I don’t want to spoil what happens because I want other people to experience the hilarity the same way I did but what I can say is that it hold true to everything that was promised and with a good 15 hour playtime (with some DLC in the future, fingers crossed) and some great twists and turns throughout, it takes every popular game trope and expertly throws it in your face in a way that only South Park can.
This game held out for a year as one of my most anticipated games and after playing it I can honestly say I am more than happy with the result and I highly recommend it to both fans of the show and people just looking for a great game.
[easyreview title=”The Arcade Verdict” cat1title=”Story” cat1detail=”Brilliantly done, exactly what you’d expect from South Park” cat1rating=”9″ cat2title=”Gameplay” cat2detail=”Fun, engaging combat. Out of combat gameplay is slightly lacking” cat2rating=”7.5″ cat3title=”Soundtrack” cat3detail=”Nice background music but forgettable.” cat3rating=”6.5″ overall=”true”]