South Park: The Stick of Truth PS3 Review
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Obsidian Entertainment Genre: RPG Players: 1 Age Rating: 18+
Other console/handheld formats: Xbox 360
South Park has been making people laugh and offending others for 17 years now. In its almost two decade long history, most of the game tie-ins haven’t gone down particularly well with those that have played them. South Park: The Stick of Truth has had lots of input from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the crude series. With the latter said, it certainly looks, sounds and feels authentic.
It wouldn’t really be South Park if it wasn’t outrageous, and South Park: The Stick of Truth is outrageous through and through. Rather than taking control of a familiar character, you take control of ‘The New Kid,’ who, along with his parents, is a newcomer in the isolated Colorado mountain town of South Park. The kids are all playing a fantasy game, in which humans (led by the Wizard King Cartman) and fantasy elves (led by the Elf King Kyle) are battling it out for the title object that is the Stick of Truth. Being a South Park game, there’s plenty of crude jokes, lots and lots of crazy moments, and many familiar characters show up from the popular series, which certainly means that it feels like the source material that it is based on.
Strangely, Ubisoft have censored certain scenes in European territories. As these scenes cut away to a screen describing what you are missing, the censorship is actually all done in good humour. It’s still baffling as to why these scenes have been given the chop, but it’s only a few scenes at the end of the day, and the way the censorship has been handled is as masterful as it is amusing.
Before you set foot in South Park, you must first create a character out of a fairly good set of options. Not too far into the game, you also choose from one of four classes, although they’re sadly a lot more similar than they actually should be. The classes do have different abilities and give the game replay value, although, whichever class you are playing as, you’ll be able to equip the same weapons and armour, and the classes would have felt more diverse had this not been the case.
When it comes to the combat, The Stick of Truth is of the turn based variety. Like Paper Mario, you are able to interact with your characters more than you are in a lot of other RPG’s during each battle, meaning you have more interaction during attacking animations, with well timed button strikes increasing the damage that you deal out, and you are also able to block enemy attacks to lessen the amount of damage you receive. It’s a pleasing enough combat system, and obviously you also get the typical magic (flatulence themed of course!) and abilities of an RPG game to play around with, as well as being able to equip new weapons and armour that you buy or find.
You only have one other character with you during battles, although they can be switched between outside or during fights. You sadly aren’t able to tinker with these characters, meaning that they will always have the weapons that they start with. Yes, the game is definitely all about the New Kid, although this will be a disappointment to those who enjoy equipping all their characters with new stuff as well as powering them up in other ways.
Outside of battle, you are able to attach equipment patches and weapon strap-ons, of which will power your character up in various ways. There’s a lot of these to buy and find, and it does mean that there’s a fairly deep customisation system here.
The town of South Park has been faithfully recreated, and developer Obsidian has given you the option to explore it thoroughly. Not only is there the main story to follow, but there’s also side quests to be found. There’s even abilities that you are granted throughout the game, and these often give you the opportunity to explore new areas. If there’s something that looks out of reach no matter what you try, well chances are you’ll be able to grab it later on, with all things eventually becoming clear when you are given a handy new power. By some RPG standards, the world isn’t big by any means, but it’s still fun to explore, particularly if you are a fan of the show. The game can last upwards of 12 hours depending on what you do, which isn’t long for an RPG really, so if you enjoy 40+ hour marathons, then South Park: The Stick of Truth may be too brief for you.
The game amusingly mentions the word Facebook quite a lot, and when you make new friends, they’ll be added to your Facebook profile. Not only are they utilising popular culture, but making a certain amount of friends will give you the chance to unlock a new perk. Then, make some more friends, and you’ll be able to unlock yet another perk, and so on. Perks include everything from increasing the effectiveness of healing items to making your attacks stronger and so on.
Visually, South Park: The Stick of Truth captures the look of the show like no other game has before. The characters and town look very authentic, and it also has the low budget animation which, like the show itself, isn’t without its charm.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is a simple but strong RPG, and it should certainly go down well with fans of the show due to how authentic everything is. While the humour and craziness is perhaps its strongest suit, the RPG mechanics on display here are still enjoyable to use and exploring South Park is certainly entertaining. With everything said, South Park: The Stick of Truth is a strong example of what a licensed game should be, and was well worth the long wait that had to be endured before it finally hit the shelves.