Hey gang, Valkor here. Without of doubt I consider one of my favorite shows on television to be South Park; Even on the series worst day, I’m still able to crack a smile at the weekly antics of Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman. Anything licensed or produced as far as movies and videogames was either hit or miss – I loved the movie and the musical CDs (especially the South Park movie soundtrack), but the videogames have been… well I’ll be honest, I haven’t played any. They didn’t seem all that appealing to me. Well Matt Stone and Trey Parker along with their South Park Studios, working alongside the talents at Obsidian Entertainment and published by Ubisoft have pieced together a game that at first I wasn’t totally drawn to. But when I placed mine hand upon mine controller and powered up South Park: The Stick of Truth for the Playstation 3, a miracle occurred and I was blessed to have played quite possibly one of the best RPGs, nay videogames ever. And this is from a guy who loved Bravely Default.
In "The Stick of Truth" you play a character that you create and customize from the jump, choosing your look and class. You’re character, along with his family, have just moved to the town of South Park for reasons that aren't clear right away; the only thing you as the player know is that your character has a unique ability, but appears to have forgotten about it plus he can’t talk. But the parents don't want that holding you back and insist that you go out and make friends. The first character you meet is Butters, but from there you’re soon tossed into the gang's imaginary world ala the shows “Game of Thrones” episode, except the kids are playing humans (led by Cartman) vs. elves (led by Stan and Kyle) as they fight to protect “The Stick of Truth”. This stick, if in either faction’s possession, gives its weilder the power to control the universe and currently it’s in the hands of the humans who must protect it from the elves. Because your character doesn’t talk, he’s given the name “douchebag” and as the game progresses he'll be given titles such as "Sir Douchebag". Douchebag is sent on quests to aid the humans against the elves, but soon you’ll have to choose a faction, ultimately you’ll deal with matters where both sides join together against a great evil that looks to take control of the stick and thus the universe.
Your quest will take you through the entire town of south Park (and Canada) and in between you’ll take on many a sidequest from the town’s people; some have to do with the overall story, others you’ll aid and in return they’ll side with you as a summons, and still other sidequest have nothing to do with the story (ManBearPig), but still they’re fun to take part in. You can stay up-to-date with what quests need to be complete, check your location, upgrade/update equipment and such through the game’s unique menu system; the menu opens up to a facebook-like page where you’ll be able to see all the characters you’ve befriended and what they write on your timeline. Sometimes they’ll right funny anecdotes however they'll also give you helpful information about the journey ahead.
Battles in Stick of Truth aren’t random as you’ll be able to see your combatants before they can attack; but they are random in a sense that if you walk off the screen and return, your enemies may not be there. Or you'll enter a new screen and they'll simply pounce all over you. On the battlefield there are always two persons – you and a secondary character; you get to choose from the show’s staple characters Cartman, Butters, Stan, Kyle, Princess Kenny (because he loves playing the chick), Butters and Jimmy. You don’t have access to the characters right away but all will eventually join your team. The downside is that only your character is capable of changing equipment but the secondary does level up. Now the battle system mixes turn-based with action in that each character takes turns to perform an act but you actually have to participate to make it work – and you can do both, attack and defend. Since I’m playing the PS3 version, X is my go to button; when in attack mode you’ll have to wait for a prompt in order to initiate an attack. Failure to hit the button at just the right moment means you’re attack will do little to no damage. But if you nail it, it could be devastating and could also earn you buffs (depending on your equipment). With the Defense it’s the same as you’ll have to wait for a special circle to appear around you and press X to defend; sometimes the enemy will go in for multiple attacks so you have to stay on point. At times, if you successfully defend yourself, you’re able to sneak in an extra attack. But what I find most interesting about this turn-based method is that the game actually allows you to recoup some energy or heal yourself from any ailments such as burning or grossout and then you can proceed to attack. Your character (along with the secondary) can also perform magic and other special abilities; while the secondary has access to their own magic/special abilities, your character will learn special magic (super farts) and can upgrade his abilities to make them more powerful RoShamBo is bad ass and quite devastating when you nail it.
But what makes Stick of Truth truly special is that it encompasses everything from the series starting from the very first episodes up to the current; the game goes beyond easter eggs in that there’s something, some item, event or piece of dialogue that you’ll recognize from past shows, including the “Game of Thrones” 3 parter (i.e. Princess Kenny and even the song is there). There are junk items you collect for cash such as the Okama Gamesphere, Butter’s book “Scrootie McBooger Balls”, Terrance and Philip dolls to name a few. You can collect Chinpokemon (gotta catch em all), the Aliens from “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe” show up to do more probing, Mr. Hanky and his family are present, familiar songs play when you enter a home or office, Tom Cruise is back in Stan’s closet, and a cameo to end all cameos makes an appearance as a boss battle; I couldn’t believe it when it happened and I was floored. There’s just SO MUCH, not even exaggerating, that I’m playing it again just to be sure I’ve seen everything! I haven’t even touched on the other game elements such ss the QTE, rhythm controls, or 8Bit Canada.
Matt and Trey, if "The Stick of Truth" were to be your end all, be all of South Park… I wouldn’t be mad. I’m jumping the gun on the Breakdown, but what you and the gang over at Obsidian have put together would make any and every fan of the show pleased as punch. It was kinda sad when the game was over, but starting up again was equally as much fun.
Did I mention this game is epic? South Park: The Stick of Truth is fun, captivating, and thus far it is the best game I’ve played this year. I’ve played my share of comedic games, but this is the first time I’ve ever laughed all the way through – there isn’t one point where the game gets boring as there’s so much to see and enjoy. The look is ripped straight from the show right down to the characters movements (as it should since SP studio was involved), just about every character from the series makes an appearance in some form or another and the audio is money. The spirit of the show is kept intact slapstick and crude humor but not tossing it at you all at once. One of the crudest is when you have to traverse through Mr. Slave’s intestines (ala Lemmywinks), but it’s also one of the funniest moments as once you enter, you can go back, slap his sphincter and listen to Slave’s trademark “Ooooo, Jesus Christ”. Gameplay… not exactly perfect, I do have some minor gripes, but as far as exploring or the turn-based battles are concerned, controls are spot on. It took a hot minute getting used to the mechanics; thankfully the game has a great tutorial to guide you through and once I got used to the controls I could attack and defend with ease. But forget all about the look, the controls and the audio, it’s all about the laughs and "The Stick of Truth" has loads of it that had me going until that sweet, sweet, EPIC ending. South Park: The Stick of Truth is a must play, even if you’re not a fan of turn-based RPGs or RPGs in general, there’s so much to enjoy with this title and you shouldn’t pass it up.
My first gripe is with some of the gameplay elements, specifically some of the QTE (Quick Time Events); an example would be when you’re giving Randy an “abortion” and you have to dilate his sphincter, the game tells you to turn the left analog stick but it doesn’t tell you that you have to turn it really fast. That was frustrating for a bit. It can also be a little difficult when you’re learning how to do magic; it took a few tries before I learned “the sneaky squeaker”, but oddly enough you can perform it easily after the tutorial. Weird. My second gripe and this is very minor is that you can’t do anything with the second player; what I mean by that is, you can’t upgrade their armor and weapons or customize their abilities. If there’s going to be a second game (and I really hope there is), then definitely make that happen. I’d have had more fun setting up the second character than worrying about what color I should make my items. Finally, I would have also liked to have had a third player on the field; nothing wrong with the two, but again if there’s to be a second game, make it so you can have three people, with the ability to combine specials. Can you imagine a Cartman/Kyle combo attack? OOoooo, Jesus Christ!
What happens to that special cameo when he’s defeated – what a gruesome mess.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is available now and if you’re a fan like me, you definitely don’t want to pass on this one. It’s a certain kind of special that's everything I’ve grown to love about the series wrapped around a fun and entertaining adventure. I really hope there's a part two, maybe with a few more guest celebs (Kanye would have been great in this game), but overall I was more than pleased with the end result. And out of TOV 5 stars, South Park: The Stick of Truth gets a 5 stars for being so awesome!