Review by BigReed

Reviewed: 03/10/14 | Updated: 03/11/14

Constant bugs and glitches hinder everything The Stick of Truth does well

The Good:
Satirical humor the series is known for, Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrote the plot, looks exactly like an episode of South Park, turn-based battle system similar to Paper Mario, tons of collectibles and gear, combat is slow but extremely entertaining, the plot is serious enough to keep players invested, South Park fans will be greatly pleased with the experience

The Bad:
Frequent loading screens, frame rate issues when loading a new area, controller input bugs, tutorials, glitches and bugs throughout the experience, low level cap, main story quest near the end of the title is bugged and prevents players from completing the game

Well, South Park: The Stick of Truth has finally released after numerous delays, legal issues, and the death of THQ. Ubisoft was lucky enough to win the rights to publish South Park, and Obsidian Entertainment, known for their role playing development, took up the task of creating the first must-own South Park title. In previous South Park games, the creators had little to do with the development, and the experiences showed because of it. After all, South Park is what it is because of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. With The Stick of Truth, all the pieces came together to create a fantastic experience, for the most part that is. The writing, satire, and story are all absolutely hilarious and engaging. From the opening screen, and throughout the game, I found myself laughing out loud consistently. Just when you think they cannot push the envelope any further, Matt and Trey throw another ridiculous story segment at the player. Sadly though, while Obsidian does do a great job with the combat system, questing, and the gear, the game is absolutely riddled with bugs and glitches. The other titles that Obsidian is known for are also packed with glitches as well. This was one of my fears going into the title, but I was willing to overlook frame rate issues, and some other minor bugs. But eventually, near the end of my experience, I was hit with a game-breaking bug that will not let me complete the game. All five of my saves are the same, and the overall game suffers greatly because of this. South Park: The Stick of Truth is a very fun and faithful South Park experience, but several glitches and bugs hinder the experience greatly.

Finally, a South Park game that actually represents the show well

Fans of South Park love the wit and the satire that has propelled the show into the mainstream over the course of the past seventeen years. But up until this point, no licensed South Park game has captured what has made the television show great. The series creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, have never really had any direct involvement with those games either. This is what makes The Stick of Truth special. The creators wanted a quality South Park game that both looked and felt like the show. The art style in the game perfectly matches the show, and the only time the player can tell it is a game running on hardware, is when the game loads a new area and the frame rate drops. Constant frame rate stutters are all too common throughout the experience, which takes away from all the hard work to make the game look identical to the show. The writing, story, and constant references to the show really make the game what it is however. Every nook and cranny is packed with references to the show. Items, characters, locations, plot elements, everything fits in perfectly with the source material. The game creates an atmosphere where literally everything is a joke, but at the same time, it also manages to keep the main plot interesting enough that the player will take it seriously and want to complete it. The characters are victims of basic cosplay costumes, which add to the humor. And while all of this is happening in the imaginations of the children, the real world, outside of the game they are playing, eventually starts leaking into their created fiction. What starts out as humans versus elves, soon becomes a story about aliens, Nazi zombies, and even a trip to South Park’s rendition of Canada. The writing is able to keep the story interesting, even when including seventeen years of material inside of the plot. The Stick of Truth is one of those rare games that is difficult to put down. It may not be an incredibly long experience, but it is also intelligent and does not overstay its welcome.

Turn-based combat, summons, loot, and a low-level cap

When The Stick of Truth was first announced, there was mass confusion and a reluctance to accept what was being offered. This was going to be a huge game that was licensed from an animated television show. It would feature the writing and direction from the creators of the series, and would also have a legitimate game developer. At the time, THQ was supposed to publish it, and now that it is released, this could have been a major title that potentially saved the company. After years of delays, and a new publisher, The Stick of Truth finally released and surprised everybody. All the things that really did not make much sense, like the combat system, are actually implemented really well into the game. Yes, this game features a turn-based battle system. I never really understood why in recent years, this style of combat is a turn-off for some people. With a few minor changes and upgrades, turn-based battle systems are still very enjoyable. South Park does a great job of giving players a fun, if old, battle system, and the game even does a good job at poking fun at the entire concept.

Players can pick a class, which are all pretty similar due to the fact that all gear can be equipped, just the abilities and a few other things change. Gear is equipped, and patches can be added to it to change the effects in combat. This system is surprisingly simple, but very addictive. You will be constantly swapping gear and patches out. The player can also equip wigs, facial hair, and eyewear, which are all there to cosmetically alter the character. The customization was a nice addition, because it was just one of many things that showed that the title was being taken seriously. This is a solid role playing game, even without the South Park theme. The only real downsides to the combat and customization, is that the gear is interchangeable, and the level cap is really low. Due to a game-breaking bug, which I will discuss later, I was not able to complete my play through. I was very close to the end, but I still had a couple of side quests and the main story left to accomplish. I still hit the level cap pretty early from what it felt like. The game constantly throws new gear, with various benefits, at the player which means you will spend a good amount of time going into the menus to see if the slight improvements are worth equipping. The level cap is fifteen, but it probably should have been around level twenty. These extra five levels would have also spaced the gear out much more appropriately. While The Stick of Truth is clearly a game for the fans, I could still see newcomers enjoying the title as well.

Bugs, glitches, and game ending issues. This game was not tested enough before release.

In the gaming industry, we live during a time where publishers often release games that still have bugs and glitches within them. Rather than pushing the release back, a patch will be available for download in an attempt to fix issues players are having. This is a poor way to handle a serious problem, especially when the entire experience can be ruined from one of these glitches. I understand that publishers were switched during the development of the game, and several delays were raising the price of the development process, but broken games are all too common these days. The Stick of Truth is no different. I was willing to overlook many of the constant smaller problems throughout the experience. Load times are frequent, but not an issue. The frame rate drops and stutters break the immersion constantly, but the game was still very fun. The controls even stop working momentarily during the experience, but once again, I was willing to overlook all of these issues because the game was incredibly engaging and fun. But then the game-breaking bug happened to me. During the final portion of the story, players travel to South Park’s version of Canada. It is surprising, funny, and for me, short lived. During the main quest, all five of my saves were suffering from not being able to progress the plot any further. I tried reloading all of them, but the problem still remained. Now, I understand that this can potentially be fixed in a patch, but this was the final product that was released. Games are not free, and compared to other media, they are actually much more expensive (not including time efficiently, just a direct comparison). The Stick of Truth was a great experience up until this point, which makes the inability to finish it even more depressing. The glitches should not deter people that are interested in the game, but it should be something that is seriously considered before a purchase.

Recommendation: Consider it

South Park: The Stick of Truth is one of the great surprises of the 7th generation of consoles. This is the first must-own South Park title, and fans of the series will find a fun experience that is true to the source material. With so much going for it, it is a shame that the bugs and glitches were not ironed out of the title. There are very few things wrong with the experience outside of these issues. While most players will probably not experience the game-breaking bug like I have, it is still a possibility. One that can completely derail the game.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: South Park: The Stick of Truth (US, 03/04/14)

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