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South Park The Stick of Truth Review

Posted on March 7, 2014 AT 01:22am

I’m not just sure that South Park: The Stick of Truth is both faithful to the television series and a worthwhile gaming experience… I’m HIV positive.

After years in development turmoil and the shuttering of its former publisher, Ubisoft has published what might be Obsidian Entertainment and South Park Digital Studios’ most engaging game to date. South Park: The Stick of Truth is an RPG as funny and crude as the seventeen years of Emmy award-winning source material it’s based upon, with a solid gameplay developed by the minds behind Star Wars: KOTOR II – The Sith Lords and Neverwinter Nights 2. If that’s not serious RPG gaming cred, I don’t know what is.

I already know what you’re thinking. Yes, traditionally there have been many (see: MANY) video games based on popular entertainment franchises that were seemingly stapled together just to cash in on its popularity, but that’s not the case with Stick of Truth. Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny, and all the other neighborhood kids have begun playing a make-believe game using fantasy elements from Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and the like, complete with wizard kings and double-crossings. The Kingdom of Kupa Keep and the Elves are waging war over the Stick of Truth, which grants its holder control over the universe. Things get out of hand rather quickly in typical South Park fashion, and that’s where you come in as the new kid in town trying desperately to make friends.

Chances are your favorite South Park citizen plays a role in the game in one form or another, from being an ally in battle to serving as an NPC quest giver. Even some characters you’ve not thought about in years have cameos in this game, so fans new and old can experience the sweet, sweet bliss of nostalgia. With Trey Parker and Matt Stone writing the original script, providing voices for the characters, and overseeing the whole project, you can rest assured this effort was not made in vain.

The first thing you’ll notice about South Park: Stick of Truth, despite it being released on last-gen consoles, is how accurately it translates the series’ unique art style and humor. Quite frankly, this is as close as you’re going to get to playing as a character within an actual episode of South Park- it really does look that good. When you get down to it though, the action-oriented, turn-based RPG battles are quite fun as well. It feels like playing a polished (and vulgar) version of an entry in the Mario & Luigi RPG franchise, where quick time events mid-move in battle can lead to impressive amounts of damage output. It’s a simple and fun system which leads to hours of tongue-in-cheek joy session after session. That being said, I’ve never played as a boy in a pretty pink dress and been impaled by a unicorn in any Mario game that I can remember.

Aside from picking your character class in Stick of Truth (Fighter, Mage, Thief, or Jew), players also have upgradable abilities and perks to choose from. It’s surprisingly in-depth as compared to what you think you’re getting into at first, as are the abilities granted by weapons and armor found or purchased during your adventure. The look of your character is customizable as well down to the scars on their face, so you can be as tough or cute as you want to be. I opted to play as a thief (complete with ACTUAL daggers), but I’m wearing an innocent-looking teddy bear’s head for its druid-like perks, so it all balances out.

A purely single-player local experience, there’s no way for your buddies to bail you out online when you’re faced with menacing Mongolians or other brutes. Honestly though, I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent in South Park making friends and enemies with all the other characters I’ve come to know and awkwardly care about over the years. I play alone, but I get to control the pacing of the game as I’m traveling around town discovering secrets or taking on roaming bands of elves. In that respect, I wouldn’t change a thing.

With all that praise, let’s be perfectly clear here- South Park: The Stick of Truth is NOT for children to play. It’s not even for some adults to play. There are a few scenes in the game that are so raunchy they’ve actually been censored in regions outside the United States. Unlike the television series, the proverbial gloves are off here, so expect plenty creative uses of four-letter words that would get you expelled from school or fired from most jobs.

If you’re a fan of South Park and role-playing games, then this is the game you’ve been waiting nearly two decades to play. Even if you’re only mildly curious to see what all the fuss is about, you will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of fun there is to be had in this quiet little mountain town.

South Park: The Stick of Truth is now available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Steam.


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