South Park: The Stick of Truth – PS3
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Nerd Rating: 8.7 out of 10
Reviewed by Ali
Some games come along that as you’re playing them you just don’t want to end. For me, South Park: The Stick of Truth was exactly that, even having to pace myself at some points so the adventure wouldn’t stop. The Stick of Truth is a truly unique and hilarious gaming experience. Playing through you start to realize that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are bigger video game fans than initially thought. From inside jokes about certain video game novelties like Bioshock’s audio diaries to the moment you step foot on Canadian soil, everything about this game screams “we love video games!” But at the same time Trey and Matt aren’t afraid to add their own commentary on the current video game industry.
Not only does Stick of Truth faithfully represent the show’s unique 2D look, but it nails the show’s humor too as if Parker and Stone wrote it themselves. That’s mainly because they did write it themselves and it’s glorious. I’m willing to go as far as saying this is the funniest game since Conker’s Bad Fur Day on the Nintendo 64. Try having a conversation about this game with your friends without laughing. “Dude did you find Jesus yet?” or “did you pick up your shit nugget after using the toilet? You can throw it during combat ya know.” Almost every character from the show is somehow involved in your journey, even battling some long forgotten favorites that I won’t mention. But there are a few characters you wish there was more of. Timmy, for example, is mitigated to fast travel duties and Towlie is nothing more than a quick loading screen prompt. DLC is something I would really be interested in purchasing if it expanded the story or added a whole new adventure.
After you create your character you enter the open world of South Park as the new kid, where you seamlessly enter the local kids’ make-believe fantasy war inspired by a combination of Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings. The classes you’re able to build are Fighter, Mage, Thief, and Jew. Each class has a different set of hilarious skills you can use in battle. From there you’re free to explore every nook and cranny of the city, which is exactly what I did for the first few hours and boy was it fun. Each location contains memorable moments from past episodes and new experiences that any South Park fan would love to explore.
I visited places like Tom’s Rhinoplasty, where if you gain enough money you can get the “Hasselhoff.” I visited Cartman’s mom’s room, where the “magic” happens, in search of supplies. Oh the things I found in there. The horror. There is so much South Park lore in this game that you wont catch all of it on your first playthrough. The hilarious details in Stick of Truth add to its charm. I loved exploring the neighborhood kids’ rooms and checking their closets for fun callbacks to previous episodes. Almost all the “junk” you pick up during your quest is a reference from the show. From the Okama Gamesphere to the Shake Weight they’re all there and each one is accommodated with a hilarious description. They’re small details, but it showcases the amount of work put into the game. Radios are placed all around the city, each playing classic songs from the show. Let’s Fighting Love, Montage, Minorities at my Waterpark, and so much more. Not to say there aren’t any new or original songs in Stick of Truth like New Kid, a song you hear when you enter a certain someone’s orifice toward the end of your adventure. The game is also filled with Skyrim inspired songs that fit perfectly with the fantasy war theme during battles.
The fighting is a turn-based RPG style where you can use your special abilities, “magic,” or equipped weapons to defeat opponents. Players can execute timed inputs during combat for bigger damage or to block enemy moves. Make sure you read the directions given to you for each move you use or you won’t get the most out of your attacks. It’ll take a few tries to get the timing down. There’s a good balance of challenge to the fighting until you reach level 14 where you’re able to obtain high damaging weapons like the Sweet Katana, from there the game becomes incredibly easy (even on hard). I avoided using the katana at one point to create a greater challenge for myself. Luckily it’s toward the end of the game so it doesn’t hurt the overall challenge the game provides.
There are a ton of weapons and armor to collect each with customization options in the form of “strap-ons” and “patches” that help you during combat. Some players may become annoyed by the constant interchanging of patches, but it allows you to create some great specialized weapons and armor. The menu is fairly simple to navigate, from upgrading your skills to changing your battle buddy. The open world portion of the game takes a page out of classic point-and-click adventure games like Leisure Suit Larry and Maniac Mansion. Puzzles are solved through environmental interactions using your weapons and unique “powers.” In the game you’re allowed to have a friend tag along with you during your quest: Butters, Kyle, Cartman, Jimmy, Stan, and Princess Kenny. Each buddy brings something different to the fight, from Butters healing powers to Jimmy’s singing abilities that can put groups of bad guys to sleep. Choosing who I wanted to tag along with me was a big decision not only during battles, but during the free roaming portions of the game as well. Each buddy had something different to say in different parts of the game. Another small, but fun detail.
South Park: The Stick of Truth truly succeeds where very few licensed video games ever have. You actually feel like you’re in an episode of South Park. It’s a fun game with hilarious characters and fantastic voice acting. It has all the humor and disgusting moments you would come to expect from the South Park guys. Not everything was perfect though, the PS3 version suffers a frame rate drop every time it auto-saves when transitioning between areas. One of the few gripes I actually had with the gameplay itself was the level 15 cap, because unfortunately after beating the game there are few reasons to keep playing with that restriction. So I replayed the game from the beginning. I had to relive all the jokes again, I had to choose the Jew class and pledge my loyalty to Kyle’s wood elves instead of Cartman’s humans. It was just as fun and hilarious the second time around. If you’re a South Park fan than this is truly the game you’ve been waiting for. If you’re just a fan of video games than this is a solid “lightweight” RPG with a dirty sense of humor. It’s not about the length of the game, it’s about being immersed in the South Park universe. The Stick of Truth is short no doubt about that, but the experience will last forever.
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