“South Park” first aired on August 13, 1997 and was a huge hit for Comedy Central. The show blended youthful innocence with delightfully crass, satirical, and often-times controversial takes on situations that we all experienced as children growing up, and even events taken from the headlines of the day. Many might not know that South Park originally came from two stop-motion, animated shorts – one of which, “The Spirit of Christmas“, became what Wikipedia calls “one of the first viral videos”. Since 1997, the IP has expanded into a multitude of other media, including video games. South Park: The Stick of Truth is the latest video game coming from the IP, and may just be the absolute best game of 2014 depending on how the rest of the year’s releases go. Heck, I would say it’s probably the best game I have played since Bioshock Infinite, which released in March of last year.
South Park: The Stick of Truth starts of with an epic, Ralph Bashki style cartoon prologue telling about the “Stick of Truth”. Then, the player gets to customize their character with a generator similar to the Avatar Creator over at the official South Park website. At that point, the game’s incredible art design comes into play and it genuinely appears as though you are watching an episode of the TV show. I give huge kudos to Ubisoft, Obsidian, and Matt Stone & Trey Parker for not trying to turn the franchise into some sort of a first-person experience. South Park: The Stick of Truth, is probably the best adaptation of its source material into a video game that I have ever seen. Moving your character is done with the WASD array and control of your selections and actions is done with your mouse. Your character is the “new kid”, just moved in from out of town for mysterious reasons. Ordered by your parents to leave the house and make friends, you encounter the gang of children playing a LARP (live-action roleplaying game) where two factions vie for control of the Stick of Truth. Of course, like in any episode of South Park, things always get blown way out of proportion, and you are in for an absolute treat – especially if you have watched the show since the beginning.
The game’s creators had 17 years of South Park lore to comb through in their efforts to build the game’s story and flesh-out its world, and they use just about everything in doing so. Literally, the entire town of South Park (and then some) is yours for the exploring. Throughout your travels, you will have to pick up and loot items, weapons, character and item modifications, and more which you can use or sell at various vendors for cash. At its core, South Park: The Stick of Truth houses an excellently done Final Fantasy style combat system. Combat is turn-based, based on order of combat initiative, and the player selects actions or defends as they see fit. To make combat more engaging, the player has to pay attention while attacking or defending, as each actions has its own key or mouse click combination associated with it. Once selected, the player has to pull off this combination, or the action is much less effective. The same goes for defense – in order to block incoming attacks, you have to click the right mouse button when impact is imminent.
If South Park: The Stick of Truth on the Windows PC platform has any negatives, its that the combat control combinations are a bit confusing – especially when using combat abilities for the first time. You have to very carefully read the white text at the bottom of the screen to get an idea of the controls for each move – and some instructions are just not verbose enough. Still, after a while, you will get the hang of it and the game has a nice way of easing you into combat with in-line tutorials that don’t take you out of the experience.
The voice cast is pulled straight from the South Park TV show, and there really isn’t anything more to say about them other than they are all absolutely brilliant in their roles. They go a long way in selling the idea that you are “playing” an episode of the TV show. As I have grown up watching the show, I have found myself steadily gaining a bond with the character of Randy Marsh, and I loved the sequences when you get to team up with him, “butt” I digress…
- 17 Years of South Park History
- Dialog/Voice Acting
- Graphics/Art Design
- Funny as Hell
- Combat move control explanations lack verbosity at the beginning of the game
Overall, South Park: The Stick of Truth has been an absolute blast to play. From start to finish, the game took me about 13 hours, and I did most of the side quests I could find. I just hope we don’t have to wait so long now for the boys’ next adventure. Thankfully, it doesn’t look like we will as the game’s menu system has an option for downloadable content. Now that the base software has been laid out, it is my hope that they will offer new, episodic adventures using the show and game assets at a much higher turnover rate. If you are a fan of the show, or great turn-based role playing games, or simply love dark humor, you owe it to yourself to purchase South Park: The Stick of Truth.
**NOTE: This is a mature game. You will see things in it that you cannot un-see, or that you probably don’t want your child to un-see… You have been warned!
[easyreview title=”South Park: The Stick of Truth Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”5″ ]
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