South Park: The Stick of Truth is a role-playing game based on the hit animated TV show. As a fan of the cartoon series I have eagerly been awaiting the game’s release and man did I have to wait long. The Stick of Truth began development back in 2009, but has since been plagued with numerous delays caused by all manner of reasons (including the liquidation of publisher THQ.) Thankfully after going through development hell the title is finally out and unlike other games that have been stuck in production limbo (cough Duke Nukem Forever, cough Alien: Colonial Marines) the finished product is actually good fun.
I think a big factor in the game’s success would have to be the involvement of the show’s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Unlike other South Park video game cash grabs, Parker and Stone have contributed to the project by penning the game’s script and man does it show. The Stick of Truth is packed with South Park references that fans will appreciate in addition to featuring the cartoon’s politically incorrect comedy stylings. As early as the character creation screen it soon becomes apparent that this title is not for those easily offended. I opted to play as a thief, which prompted Cartman to say “hmmm a white thief, I haven’t seen one of those before.”
The game’s story has players taking control of South Park’s newest resident (a mute boy who the gang refer to as douchebag.) After arriving in town douchebag decides to join the South Park regulars in a spot of LARPing (live action role play) that has Cartman’s human faction battling Kyle’s elves for control of the mystical Stick of Truth. Over the course of the adventure, the player will have the opportunity to fight for both sides before the warring rivals team up to face a third party who pilfers the stick from right under their noses. Along the way you’ll also have to take a daytrip to Canada, contend with diminutive gnomes and deal with a downed UFO that is leaking a toxic sludge that turns people into Nazi Zombies.
Gameplay wise the turn based combat reminds me a little of Costume Quest due to its timing based attacks. Assaulting a foe is more involved than simply selecting “attack” from a menu. Depending on what command you wish to execute you may be required to hit X when your weapon shines to perform a critical strike, waggle the left stick to cast fart magic or play a brief rhythm mini-game to apply buffs. Levelling up gives you points that can be used to bolster the power of your attacks whilst passive perks can be unlocked by increasing the number of people on your in-game Facebook friends list. Good thing that the game doesn’t actually use your real Facebook profile as I am a Billy No Mates with a FB account devoid of pals 😦
I am awarding South Park: The Stick of Truth five stars as I had a blast playing it. The gameplay may not be anything special, but I didn’t care as the overall package succeeds in capturing the essence of the show. The gags, visuals and voice acting are all true to the source material, which for me is enough to overcome the title’s flaws. The only real negative I can mention is that, like many an Obsidian developed game, The Stick of Truth suffers from a fair number of glitches. The infrequent slowdowns I could handle, but harder to forgive was a bug that trapped me in a room. Thank goodness that I had an earlier save I could load or I would have been permanently stuck.
When considering what version of the game to buy, be aware that the European console releases have been censored (specifically any parts involving abortion.) It’s a pointless gesture given that the game carries an eighteen-age certificate and is already saturated with offensive material, such as a level where you travel up a man’s rectum and the script’s plethora of racially insensitive comments. If censorship bugs you you’ll have to import a US copy or play the PC port. Otherwise you will have to settle for text descriptions of the exorcized segments, delivered via a picture of The Thinker face palming in front of the EU flag. Okay that’s it for this review. Screw you guys, I am going home.