South Park: The Stick Of Truth Review
When it comes to videogames, South Park has a dismal legacy. From the rubbish first-person shooter, through the abysmal South Park Rally, all the way to Xbox Live Arcade release South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge, South Park has became a name to be associated with poor quality cash-ins.
Mercifully, South Park: The Stick of Truth is something quite different.
That South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been closely involved in the project – writing the script and voicing the characters in the game – is immediately apparent and of great benefit to a game that, unlike its predecessors and TV tie-ins in general, successfully captures the spirit of the series.
Combine that with the fact that South Park: The Stick of Truth is developed by a studio with a history making RPGs and you shouldn’t be surprised to find that South Park: The Stick of Truth is not only a funny and faithful interpretation of the South Park series, but a good RPG, too.
South Park: The Stick of Truth Review – Is It Funny?
When it comes to humour, South Park: The Stick of Truth is geared more towards silly South Park than it is satirical South Park.
Regardless of which incarnation of the series you prefer, though, it’s hard to imagine that anyone who would be drawn to a South Park game won’t find that its humour hits the mark.
Indeed, though you don’t have to be South Park obsessive to get a good laugh from The Stick of Truth, it’s those who have an understanding of South Park’s characters and context for the some of the series’ recurring jokes who will get the most from the gags.
That applies to the experience of exploring the quite little mountain town of South Park too.
From South Park Elementary to Cartman’s House, Clyde to the Catatafish, Roshambos to Chinpokomon (shoe is the best, of course), South Park: The Stick of Truth is absolutely dripping with locations, characters, songs, items and other references to past episodes that will delight those who know their stuff.
Having established that South Park: The Stick of Truth is a wonderful interpretation of the TV series and an absolute joy for fans, what of South Park: The Stick of Truth as an RPG, lest we forget that this is a game?
South Park: The Stick of Truth Review – How The Combat Works
The combat system in South Park: The Stick of Truth is fundamentally a classic turn-based one with a QTE twist.
Every move you perform, from special abilities to standard attacks, requires you to time button presses, perform stick twists, and so on, in order to extract maximum damage and inflict status effects on enemies.
Conversely, when the enemy attacks you, it’s necessary to time blocks in order to reduce damage and avoid having status effects applied to your characters.
Though South Park: The Stick of Truth’s combat is generally fun and engaging, it’s worth noting that developers Obsidian often provide the player with the option of taking out their enemies before getting into a combat encounter.
This involves making use of abilities that you can be used outside of combat – knocking a shelf onto a hostile’s head with your ranged weapon, or creating an explosion with a well-placed fart, for example.
These mini-puzzles are generally optional and aren’t what you’d describe as taxing, but they are an enjoyable way of taking out your foes in a more exotic fashion that engaging in straight combat, providing some welcome variety.
South Park: The Stick of Truth Review – Does The Game Have Enough Depth?
Being as this is an RPG, that means there’s also plenty of equipment for you to buy, find and use in battle.
It’s not just a case of seeing which weapon or piece of armour has the higher number either; your equipment will often have special abilities attached that, for example, makes it particularly effective against certain enemies.
Add to that the ability to attach ‘patches and strap ons’ to equipment in order to augment its offensive or defensive potential and you have yourself a game that promises a surprising level of depth and complexity.
Note that we say ‘promises’ depth and complexity, not ‘delivers’.
South Park: The Stick of Truth never reaches a level where you feel like you’re being challenged to think about how you set up your character and as a result, you get to a stage where the options on offer cease to matter.
Yes, you’ll have plenty of helmets with varying degrees of strength, different abilities and/or buffs, and a host of patches that you could attach to augment it, but when you don’t need to think about how they might be useful in different situations, what’s the point?
This is compounded by a difficulty curve that seems to swing in the wrong direction. Get your timing wrong in early fights and your enemies seem fairly intimidating, but once you’ve got that timing down, have started to unlock a few abilities and filled your inventory with items which are anything but scarce, the game becomes a cake walk.
South Park: The Stick of Truth Review
South Park: The Stick of Truth is relatively short for an RPG. That no doubt partly attributes for the fact that the game’s RPG mechanics never have the space to grow, but it also saves that from ever being a significant problem.
In the eight hours or so it will take to complete the main campaign (there are plenty of side quests that will extend your play time significantly), there is enough variety to South Park: The Stick of Truth to ensure that the game is always fun and engaging.
If it were any longer, The Stick of Truth would no doubt suffer from its lack of depth and the fact that things become a little too easy.
As it is though, South Park: The Stick of Truth is a solid and brilliantly paced RPG that cuts things short just before they might get boring.
If you’ve endured the South Park games of years gone by, then rejoice. South Park: The Stick of Truth is the game that fans of the series have always wanted.
Version tested: Xbox 360