Monday 24 March 2014

South Park: The Stick of Truth

When South Park exploded onto our screens 17 years ago, it was only expected that a number of games would follow. The unfortunate thing fact is that most of them were pretty damn awful.  The problem lies with the fact that they were either 3D and thus totally unlike the TV series, or that they weren’t written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Parks creators, writers and, of course, leading voice talent. But in walks Obsidian Entertainment, developer of classics such as Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords and Fallout: New Vegas, with the promise of a completely authentic South Park experience. Did they deliver that? Well, lets just say that South Park: The Stick of Truth isn’t just a great game, but also the best South Park episode in years.

The Stick of Truth doesn’t place you in the role of one of the characters from the series, but rather a completely new kid who has moved into the sleepy town in Colorado. But before your adventure begins you’ll need to create your character, and though the character creation mode isn’t massive, there’s enough choices on offer here to make a somewhat perfect South Park version of yourself. Once this is done and the game kicks off, your parents, busy with moving in their stuff into the new house, tell you to go out and make some friends.

It doesn’t take long before you come across Butters, who brings you to Cartman at Kupa Keep; a human stronghold he has built behind his house. Cartman and his followers are role-playing in a fantasy war against Elves, led by Stan and Kyle. He wants you to join the cause, and after accepting you get to choose your class. They are four classes on offer; Fighter, Mage, Thief and Jew (yes, seriously!). Each class is pretty unique, and depending on which one you choose, your role within your team will change significantly.

Once out in town the genius of The Stick of Truth shines. It looks and feels exactly like the series, but unlike many previous South Park titles, here you are given an open-world - yes, every inch of South Park! From the woods that house the evil, murderous Woodland Critters to Liane Cartman’s bedroom that hides a shocking number of dildos, you can go pretty much anywhere and just explore. Though not necessarily important to the story, getting lost in The Stick of Truth is incredibly awesome and fun. Stumbling into the cinema you’ll hear the fake Rob Schneider trailers (“Da Derp De Derp Da Teetley Derpee Derpee Dumb”), trying to enter a certain house will reveal and random guy hilariously masturbating while going far, far north will land you in, yes you guess it, Canada!

Battling in The Stick of Truth is very important too. It’s turn-based, and in many ways takes its cues from the classic JRPGs of yesteryear. Though the skill is usually focused on simply pressing a button at the right time during any given attack, or merely tapping the analog sticks right and left, it’s a whole lot of fun and makes for some pretty interesting battles. There’s a load of armour, weapons and accessories to choose from too, and as you advance your character and team members can be upgraded in a number of ways. It keeps gameplay feeling fresh, unique and varied.

Though the game does have a major story arc binding it together about you taking back the stolen “stick of truth”, most of your time in The Stick of Truth will be spent doing the many side-quests on offer here. Whether it’s simply finding a character to recruit, beating up hobos in a bid to clean up the town or even placing sensors around South Park in order to find ManBearBig, The Stick of Truth is packed wall to wall with quests. Of course, this goes for collectables too, as in The Stick of Truth you’ll also need to add everyone in the town of Facebook as well as find 30 “Chinpokomon” throughout the town. These extras are great for those of you who crave achievements!

The humour in The Stick of Truth is fantastic, and it makes for the best South Park material in years. Personally, some of the smaller moments throughout the game were the best, and this usually came in the form of finding junk loot; the items that serve no purpose other than being funny. From items such as an Antonio Banderas sex doll, the Okama Gamesphere right down to Phil Collins’ Oscar, these useless items ended up making The Stick of Truth possibly the funniest game I have ever played. 

If you’re a fan of South Park this game is a must, it’s a simple as that. If you’re not, well, there’s no converting you. But what I will say is that not only is South Park one of the best games of the year so far, but it’s also an absolute triumph in authenticity. It’s fucking fantastic. Play it. Now.

South Park: The Stick of Truth protects its balls and nabs a 5/5, [★★★★★]

Denis Murphy

South Park: Stick of Truth at CeX

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