South Park: The Stick of Truth Review
South Park: The Stick of Truth, Rated M (Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC)
Finally after countless delays, South Park: The Stick of Truth is available to the general public. It is important to point out that though this is not the first South Park game, this is the only game that show-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone helped develop. The creators wrote the script, voiced it, and helped develop the RPG gameplay. Now, the big question that everyone is asking: is this any good? While The Stick of Truth has the trademark humor of the show, it is marred by repetitive gameplay and graphical glitches. However, this game is a must own for all South Park enthusiasts, mainly because the nostalgia alone is worth the $60 price tag.
First and foremost, it is important to reiterate that South Park: The Stick of Truth is a role playing game. Every aspect of a player’s character is customizable; yes, the character creator at the beginning is quite simple, but once the gameplay starts the character’s clothes become vital to combat: and this is where the game works. It does not coddle the player with explanations, which helps and hinders the initial play-through. For instance, the combat becomes more rewarding with my personal layout. The player’s necessity to equip the right weapons and armor are almost as important as the necessity to modify said weapons and armor: these strap-ons boost anything from health to attack numbers. However, certain aspects of the game need more instructions, because the players are not aware these features unless they randomly find them.
Now the gameplay features a turn based style that resembles the Paper Mario games; this turn based style is mixed with quick time events. For instance, if one chooses the ‘heavy melee attack,’ the players needs to wait for the weapon to flash in order to press the corresponding button: obviously, a quicker response to the flash results in more damage to the enemy. Yes, there is an argument that most turn based RPGs are repetitive, however, the gameplay can still remain fresh if the attack system and enemy classes are properly thought out. For instance, Pokémon works because of the evolutions and the limiting times one can use a specific attack.
However, even with the weapon customizations in South Park, I found myself only using two moves: a power up and a basic attack. This resulted in me solely leveling up those two moves because there was no incentive or need to use the other attacks. With this said, some of the tougher battles are entertaining and the player gets a sense of accomplishment when winning; yet the tougher enemy types are introduced too late, which makes the overall game fairly easy on the ‘Normal’ difficulty setting.
In fact, I did not die until the now infamous abortion mini-game, which is well into the third act of the story. With that said, several times the player is introduced to a mechanic that is not properly explained and infuriating to accomplish. The two easiest examples are Randy’s abortion scene and Randy’s training montage. Yes, Randy is one of my favorite characters and his storyline is perfect; however, this unexplained mechanic forced me to repeat the nauseating abortion scene several times. Perhaps this is my ineptitude, but these problems could have been fixed with an additional sentence that properly explains the action: for instance, during the abortion scene ‘the joystick needs to be spun as quick as possible,’ but instead the game vaguely told me to ‘turn the joystick counter-clockwise.’
Now with some of the negatives out of the way, South Park: The Stick of Truth really delivers with the humor. This is trademark South Park; the gross out humor is right next to the socially relevant commentary. But first, a warning about this game; yes, South Park was never a subtle show, but it has never done gross out comedy like this. Between sex scenes, anal probes, mini-game abortions, and countless other taboo acts, I am shocked that this game got an M rating. Yet this does not hurt the game, in fact, no matter how gross the game got, I found myself hysterically laughing and engaged. Occasionally like any comedy, jokes miss but this game is constantly funny for its fifteen-hour runtime. Now the game does suffer from the occasional repeated lines, which is a feature that plagues older games, but the overall script helps the player forget about this minor gripe.
Furthermore, like most South Park episodes the self-referential humor aids the absolute absurdity of the story: for instance, hilarious video game jokes are sprinkled throughout. I do not want to give them all away, but two early jokes are at the expense of the non-speaking protagonist and the ridiculous audio logs that have besieged other games.