Over the years we’ve certainly seen South Park attempt to insert themselves into a variety of genres, there’s the first person shooter (my first Nintendo 64 game), kart racer, party game, tower defense and a platformer. But it seems that no mater what South Park hitches its trailer to, nothing would ever stick and create that stand out tie-in title that matches the television shows success. That is until South Park Studios teamed up with the RPG legends Obsidian Entertainment, to create South Park: The Stick of Truth.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that South Park: The Stick of Truth is the ultimate title for fans of the series, possibly even one of the funniest games ever written. Written by South Park creators Trey Stone and Matt Parker, the games story is packed full of that same foul mouthed toilet humor that viewers have grown accustomed to since the shows first airing back in 1997. It’s a South Park game and it’s meant to be funny, most of them do have their moments but as proved with titles like South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge – humor and tie-ins alone don’t always equal an amazing title.
We knew another South Park game would be funny but what I bet you didn’t realise while this game was going through development Hell (THQ closure and multiple delays), is that underneath its humour and references is a deep and challenging RPG, well it’s actually more of an RPG lite. Gameplay only really lasts around 10-15 hours, but in lieu of a title that will last for months with hours of grinding is one of the most solidly build role playing systems I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.
Starting with The Stick of Truth’s all important story, you play the silent protagonist of the new kid, who has just moved into South Park following the events of Season 17’s Console War themed triple episode. Trying to integrate with the local forth graders you end up in a giant fantasy game similar to larping , being played out by Cartman and company. Not before long do you come across the titular Stick of Truth, a MacGuffin in which the holder possesses the lands power (makes up their own rules). As you join the Grand Wizard’s (Cartman) Kingdom of Kupa Keep, you’re tasked with helping the boys battle for the Stick of Truth, finding it and then defending it against the clutches of the Elves.
Combat, like the majority of classic RPGs is turn based and there are four classes to choose from; Fighter, Mage, Thief and of course Jew. Each class has its own special attacks, abilities and equipment, which are all upgradable and customisable. Outside of battling, the town of South Park is set as a fully explorable map that you can freely roam and find collectables, side quests and secret items. There are also other discoverable locations that can be unlocked as you progress further in the game, either using newly found abilities or by simple story progression. It’s also worth noting that The Stick of Truth marks the first time that Matt & Trey have sat down and worked out the entire lay of the land when it comes to the land of South Park.
Now as formulaic as a free roam RPG with battle elements and turn based fighting sounds, thanks to the humour and the cut from TV look and charm of Stick of Truth, the entire experience just feels fresh. Honestly, it felt like the whole game had been tailored to me, someone who’s grown up and doesn’t really have the patience play say, a Final Fantasy any more because of work and home life eating up a lot of my valuable gaming time.
When exploring the quiet little, white-bread, redneck mountain town that is South Park, you’ll be tasked with a multitude of quests to fulfill. If there’s any complaints to be had it’s that The Stick of Truth‘s missions are mostly fetch quests, either picking up or dropping off items at various locations. It’s a small gripe however because the game’s humour really does pick up the slack to the point where you barely even notice that’s what you’ve been doing.
Combat can be a little tricky also, with certain button combinations attached to moves, these are usually prompted during battle though, but often you’ll find yourself missing a particular button prompt at the most crucial of moments. Outside of a fight and back in free roam, there are also moves to perform that include; using ‘magic’, firing a weapon, commanding your AI companion (I always pick Butters) and more. These also tend to get a tad on the tricky side for controller based players as they use a combination of shoulder buttons, triggers and thumbsticks, meaning on more than one occasion will you open the menu by mistake. Of course these are all minor complaints, of which I’m really fishing for. Obviously if you’re not a fan of South Park then you’re not going to like The Stick of Truth‘s humour, but I’d still argue to give it a try based on the whole micro RPG feel that it brings.
One thing that has become very much news worthy since promotion began for the release of The Stick of Truth, is the censorship of certain parts of the game in the European and Australia regions. Now it’s important to note that this only effects the console copies and in my opinion, during my PlayStation 3 playthrough, the censored scenes were hardly missed and did little to effect my experience. As shocking as anal probing scenes or interactive abortion mini games may be, I found so many points in the game were far more shocking. But if you’re really in need of seeing absolutely everything this game has to offer, then a PC copy is recommended and also isn’t a huge resource drain to run.
[tabgroup][tab title=”The Good“]
Hugely loyal to the show
Solid Gameplay[/tab][tab title=”The Bad“]
Controls can be tricky at times
Not much replay value (unless you like hearing the same jokes)[/tab][/tabgroup]