Advice to live by and one of the things “South Park: The Stick Of Truth” hammers in at every available opportunity.
Announced just over two years ago, developers Obsidian Entertainment (Recently known for Knights Of The Old Republic II and Fallout: New Vegas) have spent the time since, crafting what is possibly the best TV show based game in recent memory. To accomplish such an unexpected feat they were joined by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who not only wrote the story and voiced the characters, but also were heavily involved in all aspects of the games development. This ensured that the title genuinely feels like its a part of South Park as much as the TV show or movie.
Players take on the role of the “New Kid” as you move into the quiet mountain town and begin to make friends. You soon encounter the main characters of the show and become involved in the type of child-like role-playing games we all played in our youth, but with the usual South Park twists. Here a Grand Wizard is just as likely to do battle with a Meth-head, Ginger Kid or an aborted Nazi Zombie Foetus, as they are to face off against an Elf.
The game itself is structured as a fairly light RPG. You gain experience through battles and various actions, which allows you to level up abilities and equip more powerful weapons and outfits. I take care to say outfits and not armour as the things you wear will be as varied as the locations and enemies you will face. You also gain various patches and “Strap-Ons” which, when attached to your gear, provide bonuses to various stats and abilities. Finally you have perks, which are permanent bonuses that you can unlock as you make more friends around the town.
Combat is very similar to that found in the Paper Mario games and doesn’t suffer at all from the comparison. Your character, who is always referred to as Douchebag regardless of what name you choose, is paired with one of several familiar characters (Stan, Kyle, Kenny, Cartman, Butters or Jimmy), each of whom has their own specific abilities and attacks. You can choose from a melee, ranged or magic (Fart) attack to take on the groups of enemies you face.
Farting and fart jokes, as with the show itself, are at the very heart of Stick Of Truth. They form a crucial component in battles, and are used in a number of ways even when you’re simply making your way around the town. These range from pre-emptively farting on an enemy before combat starts, or using a long-range fart to distract guards and sneak through an area undetected. The four main farts that make up your arse-nal (sorry) are learned as you progress through the game and it’s in the tutorials for these attacks that one of the games, very few, flaws are apparent.
Sometimes the on-screen directions for the attack, have no bearing on how you actually use it in game. So in effect they teach you the wrong way to do it. This lead to at least one occasion where I had to repeat the same tutorial section around ten times before I finally got it, which was intensely frustrating. But it’s one tiny niggle in what is easily one of the funniest and most entertaining games I’ve had the pleasure to play in a long time.
It’s not possible to talk about Stick of Truth without commenting on it’s visuals. The team at Obsidian, along with the guys as South Park Studios have created a game that, battle information aside, looks exactly like the show. Characters move with the same crappy animation and all the environments have been recreated with amazing attention to detail.
This attention to detail extends to the various items, quests and characters you encounter throughout the game. It’s a goldmine for South Park fans as old characters re-appear (Hello Scuzzlebutt, Mr Hankey and Damien) and there are more references than it’s perhaps possible to find.
Most of all it retains it’s wicked sense of humour. Nazi Zombie Foetuses are just one of the “I can’t believe they did that” moments you’ll encounter and certain scenes were so potentially offensive that they were deliberately censored by publisher Ubisoft on the console versions for certain countries (PC players in the UK need not worry though as it’s completely uncut). It’s produced more belly laughs, sniggers and grins than any other game I’ve played in years.
It won’t be to everyone’s taste. If you don’t like South Park, then this probably isn’t going to change your mind. But for those who enjoy the show it’s definitely worth your time.
Now screw you guys, I’m going home.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is out now on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.