The South Park Game We Deserved: Stick of Truth Review
May have slight spoilers
So any fan of South Park knows the much loved TV Series has suffered when it comes to Video Games. In fact the only game I can think of that I even remotely enjoyed was its Tower Defence XBLA game. Stick of Truth had a lot to live up to, and without beating around the bush too much I can honestly say that Stick of Truth is undoubtedly the game we have been waiting for since South Park first hit our screens.
The story of the game was written and handled by the duo themselves, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, so I think everyone could predict the game would be filled with layers upon layers of the offensive, dirty and downright disturbing humour we love from the show, and I can surely say the game delivered on all fronts here.
The story follows The New Kid, who arrives in South Park with a shady past, looking to settle in the small mountain town. Obviously this will not happen as the New Kid is drawn into the massive LARP the kids of South Park are currently caught up in, Humans and Elves battling each other for the Stick of Truth who will grant its user unlimited power over the Universe. From the moment you first meet Grand Wizard Cartman, get dubbed Douchebag regardless of name input, and train by mercilessly beating a friend you immediately know this story is going to be memorable.
The story leaps in typical South Park fashion into hilarious and amazing scenarios that can be the greatest and the most insulting things ever seen in one go. I don’t want to spoil too much but your journey will have you facing Mongolians, Nazi Zombies, Giant Rats, Aliens, Hobos and Gingers and many more. The story had me laughing out loud and cringing all at the same time. It feels like you are just playing a movie of South Park and everything from the genuine voice acting and writing, to the way Obsidian has so faithfully and precisely replicated the exact look of the show makes this everything absolutely anyone could ever hope for.
You will encounter all the characters you love and expect homage’s and suggestion and blatant showings of some of your favourite aspects from the show. This is the only game I found myself searching through the junk you collect purely for sale, as even these insignificant items are all linked in some way to popular episodes and events. If you are a South Park fan, this game will leave you raging hard (I mean this, I had to buy new pants) for hours on end.
Then we come to the gameplay. The game is modeled as an epic RPG and I’ll admit I was worried about how the game play would turn out, but Obsidian have crafted a fine RPG here. Players choose from 4 classes: Fighter, Mage, Thief and Jew (That’s right, you can be the Jew Class) and these obviously affect how you will play. Fighting takes place in a turn based style combat system, with you and your partner performing an attack followed by the enemies. You can use potions and still attack meaning you can heal or buff yourself and immediately take advantage of these benefits.
Armour has all its own stats and benefits depending on how you play and obviously weapons have their own buffs and damage stats, and all of these are locked based on your level. You also gain armour patches and weapon strap-ons, which are special enhancements that give you extra buffs like extra armour, damage and even some form of elemental damage like ice or fire. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest RPG person and balancing armour and reading through benefits and such to try and come up with the best combination usually drives me away from them, but I found myself immersed crafting the toughest fighter I possibly could, and I know on future play throughs I will fiddle to find different combinations.
Unfortunately the game is not perfect; in fact things like the armour and weapons and even the different classes is its downfall for one simple reason. There is not enough difference and variety. Most RPGs will have hundreds of armours that give benefits depending on class and certain classes can usually only wear certain types of armour. In South Park there are no restrictions. Any class can wear any armour and unfortunately having already started my second play through, there are no specific armours only available to certain classes and not that many choices to begin with and the same goes with weapons. You have some obvious class specific weapons when you first start, however nothing really stops you from purchasing one of the other ones if you like and after these first few choices all the weapons just bleed into the same group.
Truth is by the end of the game there is just one extremely over-powered weapon and set of armour that I honestly think almost everyone would use. Someone could challenge themselves by using lesser weapons but it’s a shame to see that through multiple play throughs you will end up probably using the same armour and weapons regardless of class.
Replayability is also a problem simply because everything is exactly the same. There are no special side missions per class, no secret missions or anything unique. In my first play through I completed every single side mission as well the story leaving nothing to mystery. Now as I play a second time I find something I never actually imagined would happen with the game; I become bored. The humour is still there and I get the laughs but there is nothing new or extra to make the second time through seem worthwhile, even with a different class. It’s an honest shock for the amount of work they put into a game and seems like a big oversight, especially for a company like Obsidian Entertainment which has built a great reputation for RPG games.
I feel I should also mention the censoring of the Australian version which is a shame, considering the anal probing scenes that are covered are shown openly in the show, and you wonder why in an R18 it is seen as too much. However there are only a few scenes censored and all within one section of game play, so aside from that one section you never miss a thing and I can honestly say it never took anything from the game.
The end you get to is the first play through South Park: The Stick of Truth is everything you could have hoped for. The story and humour will leave you in stitches throughout the whole game, the game play is solid and strong and the RPG elements while lacking in the armour and weapons department are still solid and well executed.
However these fantastic things cannot hide that one glaring fault; that in a RPG game where the norm would be to play multiple times exploring new classes and thing not seen in the first play through, South Park just doesn’t offer that return value. I’m playing as a Jew but I’m still dressed and fighting like a Fighter. It’s an unfortunate and glaring fault when you reach it.
However despite all this I stand by what I said. South Park: The Stick of Truth is still a fantastic game that exceeded almost all of my expectations. And that’s why it still gets…
8 out of 10
For South Park lovers this is the game we have deserved for so long and it is well received. Despite its faults it is still one of the best and most entertaining games I have played in a long time and I would recommend it for anyone and everyone. Get this game. Settle on the couch. Have those extra set of pants handy. Join Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny on a journey through their town and trust me, you will remember this game for years to come.