Review by Hellraiser234
Three days in a quiet little mountain town.
South Park is an iconic brand. Very few other shows - animated or otherwise - are able to so expertly skewer popular culture. The show balances the satire with shock humor to create one of the funniest, and most enduring television shows of all time. The series has seen plenty of video games in it's run, though none of them have been able to successfully capture the spirit that makes the show such a success.
Enter Obsidian, with South Park: The Stick of Truth. What set this particular game apart from the other South Park video games was one very important thing; South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were to be at the helm, writing and voicing the game. So, does the game live up to the hype, or is it another game that deserves to float through the sewers of South Park, past the home of Mr. Hankey?
The answer is simple. This is the game that South Park fans have been waiting for all these years.
You're the New Kid in South Park. Your lame parents have packed up everything you own and brought you to this little town in Colorado, running from some part of your past that you don't even remember. Before you're even able to realize what's going on, your parents boot you out of the new house, ordering you to go out and make some new friends. If they could only meet Eric Cartman, they'd probably regret that decision.
The first thing you'll notice upon starting the game is the graphics. Instead of trying to turn the town of South Park and all of it's residents into 3D models, Obsidian chose to keep the aesthetic of the game close to that of the show, and it pays off. If someone were to walk into the room while you were playing, they'd more than likely think you were just watching the cartoon. All of the animations are exactly what you'd see in the show; characters interacting with one another often face the camera instead of each other, movement has the same bouncing animation as characters in the show, and more. You'd be hard-pressed to find any real differences between the game and the cartoon.
It's not long after the start of the game that you begin to encounter some favorites from the series. The fourth-grade boys of South Park are currently embroiled in a live-action role-playing game, and they want you to join them. From the expected four of Cartman, Kyle, Stan, and Kenny; to other favorites such as Butters, Jimmy, Craig, and Tweek, they're all here. Even recurring characters from the show make appearances; you can expect to run into Jesus, Al Gore, ManBearPig, Mr. Hankey (and his family), and many more. If you have a favorite South Park character, odds are, they're here. I will not spoil the story here, but if you love South Park, you'll love this game. Parker and Stone have pushed the Mature rating to it's absolute limit, making for possibly the most obscene and offensive South Park story yet. Along the way, the game lampoons video games in general, as well as the expected pop-culture references. I had to stop playing multiple times, simply because I could not stop laughing.
Much like the graphics, the sound is also identical to what you'd find in the cartoon. Voices are done by the same people who do them in the show, and every character's personality is well in place. Cartman is the sadistic, racist jerk we all know and love. Music from the show (as well as the movie, Bigger, Longer, and Uncut), is used throughout the game. You'll even hear some of Chef's old songs, and an instrumental version of "Blame Canada."
The gameplay is another area where The Stick of Truth really shines. When you're not in battle, you're free to roam around South Park, looting people's homes and businesses, and making friends with the children and adults of town (all of whom are tracked on the New Kid's in-game Facebook page). Battles play out with a twist on the classic turn-based style. Each attack and skill you use must be accompanied by timed button presses. Miss the timing, and your attack may do very little damage, or none at all. Blocking enemy attacks is done similarly; time your blocks correctly, and an attack that would cut your health in half only takes away a few HP. But remember, this is South Park, not Final Fantasy. Battles have the appropriate twists; weapons often consist of wooden swords and household items; magic comes in the form of farts; and the abilities available to characters beside the New Kid are reflections of their personality. Kenny is able to revive himself after dying, Butters can transform into Professor Chaos, and Cartman attacks by lighting his farts on fire. Your companions' level scales along with yours, as do the level of enemies you encounter, which gives the game a consistent level of challenge.
The only disappointment of this game is the lack of replay value. The game is rather short for an RPG (roughly 10-15 hours), but the pacing is just about perfect; none of the long stretches of boredom that plague so many other RPGs. However, once you've seen everything the game has to offer, there is little reason to experience it again. Other than a choice that pertains to one specific Quest, the story plays out exactly the same, no matter what you do. The New Kid has four classes available to him (Fighter, Mage, Thief, and yes, Jew), each with unique abilities and attacks. However, that may not be reason enough to replay the game for many people. Outside of hunting for Trophies/Achievements, and being able to laugh at all the jokes again, there is very little replay value to this game.
All-in-all, South Park: The Stick of Truth is exactly what you've always wanted in a South Park video game. It puts you right into the mix with all your favorite characters, and delivers laughs from beginning to end. Despite the lack of replay value, this is a game that is more than worth the purchase, and an absolute must-have for South Park fans. Just don't ask why Kenny wanted to be a chick. It's just how he seems to be rolling right now.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: South Park: The Stick of Truth (US, 03/04/14)
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