Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: South Park - The Stick of Truth (Game)

It may seem like I'm riding the Ubisoft train in my game reviews lately, but I assure you that it's purely coincidental. South Park: The Stick of Truth has been one of the most highly anticipated games in recent years, yes that is plural on purpose. The game was announced over a year ago, and was even mocked by it's own creators in an episode of South Park for how long the release has been pushed back (due to the closure of publisher THQ, who were originally releasing this title), and rabid fans of the show all over the world have flocked to purchase the content; regardless of the steep price tag. Is this game really worth the long and anxious wait that fans were forced to undergo?

Genre: RPG, Adventure
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: March 3rd, 2014
Play Time: 10-16 Hours
Price: $59.99 USD
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3

Official Website



                                      










Rating: 9.5/10







It may seem like I'm riding the Ubisoft train in my game reviews lately, but I assure you that it's purely coincidental. South Park: The Stick of Truth has been one of the most highly anticipated games in recent years, yes that is plural on purpose. The game was announced over a year ago, and was even mocked by it's own creators in an episode of South Park for how long the release has been pushed back (due to the closure of publisher THQ, who were originally releasing this title), and rabid fans of the show all over the world have flocked to purchase the content; regardless of the steep price tag. Is this game really worth the long and anxious wait that fans were forced to undergo?

Everyone who was involved in the creation of South Park: The Stick of Truth have done the entire series justice in this game; no reference has been left unsaid and no boundary has been adhered to in the tireless lewd charade that is South Park. The title is true to exactly what fans have been patiently awaiting and by no means does it fail in delivering everything that the series has set up in its seventeen season reign. The gamer will find themselves extremely pleased and fulfilled by their ability to navigate around the town of South Park, venturing into each store and house that the quiet little mountain town possesses; including the houses, bedrooms and garages of various characters. This gives a whole new level of intimate interactivity between the series and it's fan base as the game subtly pushes the player to explore the entirety of the map with collectibles, many side quests and of course the main storyline.


The story itself is a spoof on generic RPG stories and it was introduced originally in the episode "A Song of Ass and Fire" from season seventeen, which is a three part episode with the latter "T..... and Dragons" and "The Hobbit" wrapping up the episodic trilogy for the end of the season. Leave it to Matt Stone and Trey Parker to time the release of The Stick of Truth so aptly as to have it come out in between seasons and tie together the aforesaid episodes into a bundle of grotesque eccentrics. In the game itself the player will take on the role of "The New Kid" or "Douchebag" (the nickname given by Cartman), a character who never talks and who recently moved to South Park with his parents. The plot begins by you, "Douchebag", helping Cartman and the humans defend the Stick of Truth from Kyle and his army of elves. It's hard to go into too much plot detail without spoiling a lot of the game, so suffice it to say a lot of really fucked up shit happens from here on out and the player gets to decide whose side they will ultimately take.

The player gets to customize "The New Kid" at the beginning of the game and shortly into the storyline they will be able to choose to become either a Thief, Mage, Warrior or Jew; each class has their own special abilities and unique starting/promotion clothing. This is pretty much the only difference between the classes however and unlike most RPGs it does not matter what weapons or armor you give your character. For instance you can put a mage in full S.W.A.T gear and they'll still function just fine, if not better. There's a wide range of gear all fashioned from various costumes such as Druid, Barbarian, Stupid Spoiled Whore, Witch and many, many more. The sets are comprised of head, torso and glove pieces and all have their own special perks. Many equipment pieces can be modified with dyes, which are found scattered around the game, and modifications for both weapons and armor that further the customization and preference of the player. In addition to standard modifications, there are specialized weapon mods that allow for the use of extra elements, such as bleeding (the enemy takes damage over time), grossed out (the enemy vomits and loses health, they also cannot heal), shock and burn.


The fighting system is done in the style of turn based combat and even introduces secondary characters to your party. At all times the player may only have up to two members in their party, "Douchebag" and either Cartman the Grand Wizard, Kyle the High Jew Elf, Kenny the Princess, Stan the Warrior, Jimmy the Bard or Butters the Paladin. While the main South Park characters have individual special abilities, such as Butters's ability to heal, Jimmy's ability to lull enemies to sleep or Cartman's spectacular ability to fart fire, "Douchebag" has his own unique set of special abilities that are dependent on what class the player chose. The player will be able to control five abilities for their unique character, as well as use items, magic, summons and both melee and ranged attacks. The magic in The Stick of Truth is none other than the ability of learning new farts, such as the good ol' Cup-a-Spell fart. The farts are useful in combat for interrupting enemies that are channeling spells, as well as being used to enhance the power of a melee or ranged attacks. Both melee and ranged attacks have normal hits, hard hits and magic (fart) hits which all come in useful at various times, however some enemies in the game are immune to farts.

One thing to note here is something that hasn't been done before. The menu interface is designed in the style of Facebook. To the left of the interface will be your character information (level, experience bar, friends, age, etc) along with a current picture of "Douchebag". To the right of this is where the people you've befriended around town (in total there are 120 characters to befriend) will post rather amusing status updates. There are several tabs to accompany this including inventory, abilities, map and party and it is extremely user friendly and easy to navigate, even for the most severely game challenged player. As mentioned previously, there are 120 people to befriend in South Park and this means that literally every character who has ever been in the show is included in this game; except for those who are currently deceased and Towlie. Yes, Towlie is nowhere to be found in this game except for being an afterthought on one of the load screens which is an utter shame. Another character that's not actually in the game is Timmy, although I guess it's good enough that there is a fast travel system via Timmy flags that are placed in twelve strategic locations around South Park; but this is as close to seeing Timmy as the audience will get other than a more-than-brief cutscene. Come to think of it, Satan also is not in the game... hmm.


Although the absence of Towlie is just a minor disappointment (to me, anyway) the game has an almost never ending barrage of references to nearly every single episode that has been created. This can range from junk items which are just sold for money to the weapons and armor. The junk items are ultimately the most gratifying in terms of references, the player will find themselves confronted with Cherokee hair tampons, torn condoms, lice, Faith +1 CDs, Fatty DooDoo tapes, and a plethora of other nostalgic memorabilia. Some of the cutscenes or chatter around South Park are blatant in-your-face references to episodes of past seasons and ensure a worthwhile and memorable in-game experience that will have every South Park fan enthralled and belly laughing from beginning to end.

There's not much to comment on in terms of graphics, but Obsidian Entertainment has done a fantastic job in making this game look exactly like the show. One gripe however is that the game only runs at a maximum 30 FPS (frames per second) no matter how good your gaming rig is. This causes the background to become blurry to the eyes if you're holding down the run button for an extended period of time. The soundtrack while wandering around in game is also nothing spectacular and it can be rather repetitive, but the cutscene score is applaudable as it is adorned with many medieval instruments and gives a truly olden time characteristic to the atmosphere. The audience will also notice that full audio of familiar songs such as "Kyle's Mom", "I'm Gonna Make Love to Ya Woman", "Sexual Harassment Panda", "Taco, Taco, Burrito, Burrito" and "You Almost Make Me Forget (About Tacos)" make appearances inside buildings, which is a great ode to the fans.


Lastly, there's not a lot of room for replayability in South Park: The Stick of Truth. The first time around players will find themselves embedded into the main story and side quests of the game, as well as discovering all of the characters and interacting with them. A second play through is beneficial for trying out a new class, as well as choosing the few options that are available that determine whose side you land on however at this point the gamer will be running through the experience and perhaps collecting the thirty Chinpokomon collectibles scattered throughout the game or maybe even finishing up achievements if they're so inclined. It should also be stated that the maximum level that the player can achieve is an unsatisfying Level 15; this is not because the experience points are too hard to obtain from this point forward, but the level is actually capped. Once these two playthroughs are met the game will ultimately be put shelved for a long time before it's dusted off again in the distant future.

It's hard to write a review about South Park: The Stick of Truth because anything that I say gives away parts of the magic of uncovering the game, so hopefully I've refrained from doing that for most of you. At the steep price tag of $59.99 USD I would highly suggest to wait for a sale, used bin or minor price drop as this game in it's entirety will only last a maximum of 25 hours; that is with completing the game twice with two different classes and obtaining all of the achievements. One full playthrough, if all sidequests are completed and the player has spent an enjoyable amount of time exploring the game, will last anywhere from 11-15 hours. For die hard South Park fans, rest well assured that pricing is not an issue and you most definitely will not feel cheated or disappointed if you pick up the game up at its current price point. Obsidian Entertainment have done an outstanding job in capturing the disgusting humor, lewd acts, offensive dialogue and sickening sights that every South Park fan craves from the show. The incorporation of (so close to almost) all of the beloved characters from the show, as well as the endless references to past episodes, will make this game a must have for all fans of the series.

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