South Park has been running for 17 years, and spawned a successful movie, but the TV show has never had much success making the transition to games. South Park: The Stick of Truth aims to change that thanks to the heavy involvement from series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Following a long development, thanks to numerous delays and a change of publisher from THQ to Ubisoft, the game is now finally here. We’ve been spending some time with the Xbox 360 edition to see if it has been worth the wait.
South Park fans will already know what they are letting themselves in for. To those that are new to the show, be warned that this is an 18-rated game, it may look like it’s for kids but it is most definitely aimed at adults. To enjoy South Park you need to have a sense of humour and not be easily offended. The humour is so extreme that a few scenes have even been censored for the European version of the game.
The game is presented just like the show and it’s clear that an incredible amount of effort has gone into the aesthetics. Everything looks, moves and sounds just as it should making it actually feel like you are taking part in an episode. While very story focused the game is also an RPG and the genre feels like a perfect fit.
The player is cast as a new kid who has just moved into the neighbourhood. At the start of the game you get to customise their appearance to your liking. You are then forced out of the house by your parents on your first quest to go and make some friends.
It’s not long before you stumble upon Cartman who is running a live-action roleplaying game. He’s taken the role of the grand wizard with Kenny as the princess. Cartman is leading his band of humans against Kyle and Stan’s Drow Elves in a fight over the Stick of Truth. While this is going on there’s all kinds of other mayhem happening in the town including UFO’s, aliens, zombie Nazi’s and Al Gore searching for the ManBearPig. It’s actually hard to talk about without spoiling anything.
To join Cartman’s faction you need to choose a name, which he promptly changes to douchebag, and class from Fighter, Mage, Thief or Jew. Each class plays similar but they do all come with their own unique attacks. The turn-based combat is fairly simplistic and is based on timed button presses. These are used for both attacking and defending and require you to press the correct button at just the right time. If you succeed then you’ll cause more damage when attacking and receive less when defending.
Before attacking you have the option of using items on yourself or your buddy. Examples are cheesy poofs to heal, bottled water to remove debuffs. There are also various potions to boost things like your number of attacks or strength. You always have a buddy with you and certain buddy abilities can be used before attacking as well such as Butter’s healing spell. Buddies can be swapped out as you like and you also have the option to summon help from allies that you have met during your adventure.
As you defeat enemies and complete quests you earn xp and loot. There’s a large variety of loot but there isn’t much thought needed in order to use it. Most of the time you can get by just by using whatever is available to you. Eventually you learn a series of magical attacks based on farting. The different types of fart attacks that you can perform allow you to do things like distract, stun or piss-off your enemies. The funniest though is when you gross out an enemy as it causes them to vomit and lose health each turn.
One of the best things about the game, especially for fans, is the chance to explore South Park. It’s the first time the town has been seen properly mapped out. You can go almost wherever you want and visit all the different houses and locations from the show. Each has plenty of things to discover but you often have to find the correct keys in order to access certain areas. There are also plenty of secret areas to discover once you work out how to access them. There are so many things to discover including some of the favourite songs from the show. If you’re a big fan then you’ll want to take the time to look at everything.
As you explore you’ll encounter an insane number of characters from the show. Some only manage brief cameo appearances but you can’t be disappointed. Characters usually have a side quest for you to take on and we found ourselves wanting to do them all.
The in-game menus have been made to look like a social network. It’s a neat touch and one that works really well. The characters you meet become your friends and these go towards unlocking new perks. As you go about your quests your friends will post frequent status updates and messages which can be very entertaining.
The only real downside to South Park: The Stick of Truth is that once you’ve completed it you will have seen and done most of what it has to offer. It’s a very linear game and each playthrough will be very similar. Some of the jokes can be very repetitive and most characters will repeat the same dialogue to you over and over again. Still it’s very entertaining and we’re confident that fans will keep coming back to it.
The Stick of Truth is an incredible achievement and easily the best South Park game ever created. It’s also the funniest game we’ve ever played and we often found ourselves crying with laughter. We were thoroughly entertained all the way through which is impressive as there’s easily 15-20 hours of entertainment here. For fans of the show South Park: The Stick of Truth is simply essential.