Review – South Park: The Stick of Truth

By: Louis Edwards
 

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Cartman, Kenny and the gang have returned once more to a video game platform near you. Should you head on down to South Park or is it better to just let them kill Kenny off for good?

Read our review to find out.

The South Park television series has now been around for more than seventeen years coming to life after a couple of digital shorts went viral back before anyone really knew what going viral meant. From it’s inception as a TV show back in 1997 and into it’s 17th season recently kicking off, there have been many different video games released using the characters from the show. Some have been decent while others have missed the mark, but all have been entertaining to true fans of the series with South Park’s brand of raunchy and potty mouth humor.

In South Park: The Stick of Truth you play as a quiet new kid in town with a mysterious past. You’ll be able to pick skin tone, hair style, facial features, etc., and once completed your parents will match the skin tone you choose. We had a couple of different gamers create their own characters matching their skin tone and noticed this adaptive feature pretty quick. The game will ask you for your name, but your choice on that really doesn’t matter. Once you meet the Grand Wizard King (AKA Cartman) you’ll be given a name of his choosing. This being an RPG, you’ll get to choose which type of character you want to play as: Fighter, Mage, Thief or Jew. Each type has its own pros and cons and once selected you can’t change, so choose wisely.

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The game roughly follows the three-part show from Season 17 where the boys played an LARPG based loosely on Game of Thrones. Befriending the local gang, you become involved in an epic role-playing fantasy game, featuring wizards and warriors battling for control of the Stick of Truth, a twig that possesses limitless power. The humans, led by Wizard King Cartman, make their home in the Kingdom of Kupa Keep (KKK for short), a makeshift camp built in Cartman’s backyard. Among King Cartman’s loyal servants are paladin Butters, thief Craig, Token, Clyde, Tweek, and Kenny,for reasons unbeknownst to anyone role-plays as a princess. The elves, led by the Elf King Kyle, meanwhile reside in the Elven kingdom in Kyle’s backyard, with their members, warrior Stan and Jimmy the bard. The boys conduct their game throughout the town, out into the surrounding forest and even into Canada.

The story was written by the creators of the series Trey Parker and Matt Stone. It’s pretty obvious early on that the game has a script worthy of anything previously written by them. This is classic South Park material and these guys did not disappoint. While their raunchy brand of humor isn’t for everyone, and definitely not for kiddies, it is wildly entertaining and in your face offensive at times. It’s easy to see why the game was censored in some countries that don’t have the freedoms that we enjoy here. This should not be played with children in the room. Yes it’s a cartoon, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for kids. This is an adult game with adult subject matter and imagery in places you might not expect. If you aren’t familiar with South Park, let me google that for you. If you do know South Park, the script is exactly what you would expect from Trey and Matt, and that’s a good thing.

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Quite a few of the characters from the series make an appearance in the game. Aside from all of the kids, there’s also the adults that frequent the series. Chef, Mr. Marsh, Mr. Mackey and more will be around and even Al Gore wants your help finding that always elusive manbearpig, mmkay. You’ll be making friends with these folks by doing quests for them and the more friends you have the better. Perks become available as you make more friends on the game’s Facebook like menu (it’s actually called Facebook and works similar to it) and there’s an achievement for making friends with everyone in South Park. There are twenty perks in all and these can help you become a force to be reckoned with in battle.

The game is played in the South Park classic 2D style of cutout animation. Matt and Trey made sure the game would stick to that format early on and it truly gives the game the feel of watching an interactive version of the TV show. This 2D format does give the game a repetitive feel at times since most of the areas are pretty much carbon copies of similar places. The map of the City of South Park isn’t exactly huge, but walking from one place to the next could still take some time, so the developers were nice enough to hire Timmy to drive you around from flag point to flag point using fifteen separate travel points. For a disabled kid, he can get around pretty fast with his animal powered wheelchair taxi.

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Game play itself is your classic RPG style of play with search and find mechanics coupled with a turn-based battling system. Once you are given a sword for general use, you’ll be able to walk around smashing things and picking up random items like crumpled paper and broken broom handles. These can be sold later to a couple of folks and in turn you can buy items using that cash. You’ll also find change lying around and in back packs and bags. The money can hthe be used to purchase different clothing and weapons. the clothing can help upgrade your armor or increase your over all health. The RPG elements are pretty deep and we were pleasantly surprised at the level to which this game went. Who knew that a South Park game could be an RPG? Smart thinking and kudos to the developer.

The battle system is also well executed, with the exception of magic (known to us regular people as farting). One of the hardest things to control in the game is the Sneaky Squeaker. This a type of fart that you can project to a place that might distract your opponent and create a misdirection allowing you to sneak past them. Randy Marsh gives you the lowdown on how to execute this tricky maneuver in a boys bathroom, and makes it sound so simple. In actuality it’s not that simple. It requires a finesse that seems beyond us, but really this hard-to-use mechanic doesn’t take much away from the game.

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You will find weapons while out and about in and around South Park and you’ll also be able to purchase some from previously mentioned folks. Weapons can be modified with strap-on patches that add extra damage to their attacks. Things like a Tuft of Ginger Pubic Hair for grossness or a Cult Pamphlet for a paper cut can help sway a battle in your favor and create very effective attacks against some of the toughest bosses. These patches can be found in some hard to find spots so be sure to search every nook and cranny for hidden bags and back packs and some of these patches are available for purchase. Check your local dealers inventory to see what they have in stock.

As you move through the game befriending everyone you meet, some of these friends will offer you their services once per day if you run into a foe that you feel might be too tough for you. Mr. Kim from the City Wok can turn into a bad ass Chinese warrior and take out some tough foes while Jesus and Mr. Slave are also just as effective. You can only summon one a day but all of them are too chicken to take on a boss, so you’ll be without them when you need them the most.

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The South Park series has always been an adult show that pushed the envelope of television censors and followed the Simpsons by confronting the stories of the day with humor and thought. It never shied away from controversy and Matt and Trey made sure their raunchy and humorous vision was always portrayed as they wanted it to be seen.  South Park: The Stick of Truth picks up that raunchy train of thought and rides it proudly back into the video game realm.

Well done Matt and Trey and developers Obsidian Entertainment and South Park Digital Studios.

Come on down to South Park and meet some friends of mine.

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