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.
South Park: Stick of Truth
Out this week on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
Version tested: Xbox 360
– Stupidly funny
– Great combat system
– Ace fan service
– 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.
”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.