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South Park: The Stick of Truth is the funniest episode in years

Tuesday, 4th March 2014 08:02 GMT By Dave Cook

South Park: The Stick of Truth is the funniest comedy Trey Parker and Matt Stone have written in years, and Obsidian Entertainment’s even built a solid RPG underneath. Dave gives his final impressions here.

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South Park: Stick of Truth

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Out this week on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Version tested: Xbox 360

Pros:

- Stupidly funny
- Great combat system
- Ace fan service

Cons:

- Swastikas galore
- Not particularly hard
- Al Gore’s Facebook spam

I’ll just come out and say this; South Park isn’t as funny as it used to be.

I’m a huge fan, but I feel that recent seasons have leant a bit too heavily on US Government policy or American tropes of which I know little about. It’s probably still brilliant if you ‘get’ it mind you, but in The Stick of Truth, the show’s creative team have written humour that is universally hilarious, shocking, scathing and viciously satirical. It’s their best work in years.

This is a game that should surprise those who feel TV gets away with much worse taboo content than games. There are things in The Stick of Truth I’ve never seen on television, and I’m still wondering how South Park Studios and Obsidian Entertainment managed to get away with it.

There’s a fitting scene where an FBI agent watches in horror as his ‘PEGI’ scanner spikes off the chart, struggling to contend with the sight of a mutant foetus rampaging its way through an abortion clinic. This is close to the bone, no-holds barred stuff that, despite a handful of censored scenes, still has its satirical teeth firmly intact. If you’re worried that the game has been butchered by the ratings board; don’t be.

It’s no secret that there’s a wealth of shit South Park games out there, but Obsidian has bucked the trend here, because beneath all of the crass humour lies an enjoyable RPG that actually works. Don’t forget; this is a team that understands the ins-and-outs of the genre, and to see the final product turn out so well after several delays is something of a relief. As far as fan service goes, this is comfortably one of the best examples of how to do it right. There’s nods to jokes as far back as the show’s first episode, and plenty of references to make any South Park viewer grin like a maniac.

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”While it could be claimed that Obsidian’s combat system – while enjoyable and fluid – borrows a lot of its fundamental ideas from the Mario & Luigi series, you could counter that by saying every shooter modern shooter copied DOOM.”

The plot opens as your hero Sir Douchebag moves to South Park to start a new life. As the new kid on the block you have to make some friends, and it doesn’t take long before you’re participating in the massive live-action role-playing game that’s sweeping across town.

On one side; Grand Wizard Cartman commands the human Kingdom of Kupa Keep (yep, the KKK) while The Drow Elves fight tirelessly to reclaim the all-powerful Stick of Truth from its fat – sorry, ‘big-boned’ – keeper. You join Cartman’s team and vow to protect the relic at all costs until is promptly stolen about ten minutes in. Oops.

You’re then sent out with noble paladin Butters to search the town for clues, and you’re able to search most of it from the start. While the environments are all 2D, they hide many secrets and side areas, rendered entirely in the same art style you’ve seen on TV. You’ve probably heard someone say, ‘it looks just like an episode from the show’ when referencing Simpsons and Naruto tie-ins, or even Studio Ghibli’s delightful Ni No Kuni, but this is hands-down the best example of a direct adaptation I’ve seen. It looks like you’re playing the show, and I’m saying that without a shred of hyperbole.

Sir Douchebag bounds along the screen with that crappy walking animation, and many areas have that construction paper and cardboard aesthetic used by South Park Studios. You’ll spend a lot of time searching these locations for loot to sell at base camp, along with weapons and gear for use in combat.

There’s even a set of 30 Chinpokomon to collect, and plenty of ‘junk’ items that can be sold for cash, such as copies of Butter’s best-selling novel The Poop That Took a Pee, Faith+1 CDs and World of Warcraft’s ultimate weapon The Sword of a Thousand Truths, which is actually just a USB stick. The volume of references in every room is crazy.

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19 Comments

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  1. The_Red

    “30 Chinpokomon to collect”
    Now this is the sort of collectable I can get behind. Thanks for the impressions. Can’t wait to get this bad boy.

    #1 5 months ago
  2. kaffikjelen

    This is the most ridiculous review embargo ever. No reviews before launch day? Thankfully, the game appears to be better than what one might interpret the embargo to mean.

    #2 5 months ago
  3. Dave Cook

    @kaffikjelen What?

    #3 5 months ago
  4. kaffikjelen

    I’m used to the fact that there are release dates for reviews of games soon to be released, but usually the reviews come out a day or two before. This game didn’t get any reviews before today, when it’s released in North America. It puzzles me.

    #4 5 months ago
  5. Dave Cook

    @kaffikjelen It happens a lot.

    #5 5 months ago
  6. kaffikjelen

    Hm, I wonder why there are such embargoes in the first place? I remember the good ol’ days when gaming mags would get an exclusive review weeks before the release.

    #6 5 months ago
  7. CrampedStyle101

    Is this site soon to be changing its name to DaveCook247? Not sure of the point in a site that only has the opinion of one person on it. I thought this was now a big site that had multiple writers with different opinions? PetProject247?

    Oh well. Bye.

    #7 5 months ago
  8. Dave Cook

    @CrampedStyle101 What are you talking about. Do you not read the articles of any of our other writers?

    How can it be a pet project if I’m not the boss?

    :/

    #8 5 months ago
  9. CrampedStyle101

    Talking about reviews. There’s only one reviewer on this site. Most of the other articles don’t have much opinion in them. Doesn’t feel like I’m reading the opinion of a site just feels like the reviews bit is a Dave Cook personal blog. I’ll just stick to the news bits.

    #9 5 months ago
  10. Dragon

    @kaffikjelen,
    Famitsu in Japan gives all reviews on Wednesday for that week, great system with no partiality. Games get good score, bad score doesn’t matter.
    In west, publishers decide the deadline, everyone obeys it. Bad games, that everyone knows is bad (like Resistance Vita etc.) have embargoes till launch day.

    I prefer first system way more than second one.

    #10 5 months ago
  11. Gekidami

    Its a shame they didnt release this on PS4 too, you’d think with it coming out at this point, they would have been able to.

    #11 5 months ago
  12. fihar

    Had an inkling this would be like the Scott Pilgrim film.
    Makes me feel old.

    #12 5 months ago
  13. TheWulf

    Yay! I’m quite looking forward to this one. And, honestly, some of the complaints the VG24/7 crew get on a daily basis are the strangest I’ve seen on any site. I feel bad for them.

    #13 5 months ago
  14. Rosseu

    @crampedstyle

    They do reviews / previews whenever they can. This site is focused more on game news. As far as I know they’ve been doing reviews only recently. Which is appreciated by the way.

    #14 5 months ago
  15. Michael Ireland

    This community is nothing but hate and bile anymore.

    #15 5 months ago
  16. ChunkyLover112

    @The_Red cool

    #16 5 months ago
  17. Darkfield

    @Dave Cook Don’t take that to heart Dave, we all love to read your pieces anyway so who cares if someone doesn’t. And of course in all other websites that do previews/reviews you often read one writer’s opinion on the subject. Kevin VanOrd won’t circle around the Gamespot’s office and ask everybody to write separate pieces on each game. That said we have seen different point of views of each staff members on different titles more than any other place.

    Anyway, really looking forward to this.

    #17 5 months ago
  18. Arnvidr

    Please stop splitting articles up into a number of pages. This is not a magazine, this is the internet. Artificial limiting of content is nothing but annoying.

    #18 5 months ago
  19. fearmonkey

    Great review dave, I’m so glad to hear this is living up to the show.

    Being in the US, I may not have noticed that the recent South parks are US centric, but I have to say, that last Kanye episode (The hobbit) was hilarious.

    #19 5 months ago