South Park: The Stick of Truth (Video Game Review)

South Park: The Stick of Truth is a new comedy and JRPG mashup from developer Obsidian Entertainment and publisher Ubisoft. The game has been in development for quite some time and has received several delays over recent months, but the finished product features a polished presentation and grand storyline that fans of the South Park television show are sure to enjoy. Though South Park: The Stick of Truth is short in comparison to other JRPG games in the genre, the new title plays out like a 10+ hour episode of the show that could easily encompass a whole season or several films based on the same narrative. South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker were directly involved in the development of South Park: The Stick of Truth, and it shows, as the game's hilarity easily holds up for the duration of the campaign to give gamers plenty of laughs for their money.

South Park: The Stick of Truth follows events portrayed in the South Park special Black Friday and sees the familiar cast of characters that includes Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny returning to their own fantasy role playing world set within the confines of South Park. The in-game storyline tells of a war between humans and elves for control of a powerful artifact known as the Stick of Truth, and players assume the role of the new kid that Cartman affectionately refers to as Douchebag. Players are allowed to create their own character, choose a class and enter the world of South Park to meet up with friends to fight for Cartman and the rest of the Kupa Keep Squad.

South Park: The Stick of Truth features a hilarious storyline that offers the same humor fans would expect from the hit television show. Of course, this means plenty of obscene, racist and otherwise offensive chapters are present in the game as well, so gamers that don't enjoy the immature comedy from the show won't be happy with the new game. There are plenty of memorable scenes throughout the game from a special encounter with aliens and a showdown over a valuable item at a Chinese restaurant, and there are enough hidden references throughout the game to give some fan service to gamers that have followed the series for a long time. Despite its unassuming aesthetic, South Park: The Stick of Truth is not a game for kids, just like the franchise the game is based on.

South Park: The Stick of Truth features heavy JRPG influences with fantasy classes for characters and turned based combat mechanics. Players will begin the game by creating their own character and choosing from the classes of Fighter, Mage, Thief and Jew. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses, and there are some skills that are unique to each class as well. All of this matters a lot less in South Park: The Stick of Truth than in other RPG games though. Players won't find a very difficult challenge to completing the game assuming they've ever played any other game with similar mechanics. Players can see enemy encounters before they happen, and most can be avoided if the player wants and is quick enough. The game uses the pre-battle scenes as well to allow players to attack enemies for bonuses in fights or for enemies to receive similar benefits.

Once a battle begins, players will typically have one member of their party enter the battle to fight alongside the New Kid. Butters, Cartman, Jimmy and some other key members of the show are available and can be easily switched out during the game as well. They each come with their own preset moves and classes such as Jimmy's Bard skills and Cartman's fart magic. The New Kid will have access to more moves after leveling and progressing through the game including an ability to launch his or her own fart magic attacks, sword strikes, ranged bow and arrow attacks and more. Players can outfit their character with many different weapons and equipment found throughout the game for additional bonuses, and there are some rare, but very powerful, summon spells that can be obtained by completing special sidequests.

The controls in South Park: The Stick of Truth is one of the biggest gripes players will have with the game. Navigating in-game menus, especially command wheels, can be more difficult than they should be for new release. Additionally, the game suffers through a few frustrating tutorials to teach players to master moves in combat before they can progress through the rest of the game, though strangely, the game doesn't explain other key controls and other important mechanics of the game nearly as well. South Park: The Stick of Truth definitely isn't broken though, as these are minor gripes, and the game does incorporate other neat control ideas to keep gameplay more exciting than most. Players that mash buttons on screen at the right time can actually land more powerful attacks on enemies or do the opposite while being attacked. This is a mechanic that has worked well for games such as the Paper Mario franchise, and it helps create an enjoyable battle system here in South Park: The Stick of Truth too.

The game's presentation quality is top notch in South Park: The Stick of Truth. With the exception of loading screens and managing equipment, social media content and performing similar tasks with the game paused, it would be impossible to determine the differences between South Park: The Stick of Truth and an episode of the show. That's not to say that the show is an amazing achievement in visuals or special effects, but South Park: The Stick of Truth manages to capture the characters and animations from the show perfectly. Trey Parker and Matt Stone obviously helped in ensuring each character in the game was authentic to their counterpart from the show, and the little cardboard cutouts bounce around the game world just as they would in the show. The town of South Park is also accurate to what has been featured over the series with all of the different homes and businesses fans would expect to see being fully explorable at times during the game as well.

South Park: The Stick of Truth features the same voice actors from the show as well, so Cartman and the gang are just as hilarious as any other time players have seen them on the show. The game manages to cram so many jokes into the new release, that it would be impossible to catch them all the first time playing through the game, and this includes meeting up with the colorful characters that inhabit South Park or hearing some memorable songs from the series' past. Important theme songs and sounds from the show even make it into the release including a guitar melody when loading up the game that always greets fans when the show would be returning from a commercial break. Of course, there are plenty of farts, poop sounds and other great sound effects to complete the experience and make fans feel right at home in the new game.

South Park: The Stick of Truth is over rather quick with our first playthrough clocking in at only a little over 10 hours. There are a few collectibles to find in the game, and there are plenty of easter eggs or other nods to the show scattered around the South Park world to find during the game's campaign to give some added value that will make players want to spend more time with the game. Other complaints for the game are minor, and most players will be laughing so hard at the jokes the game is telling, they'll hardly notice the sometimes wonky controls or lack of challenge the game presents. South Park: The Stick of Truth satirizes the JRPG genre and features plenty of references to the show the game is based on, and fans will have a hard time putting down the game until they've played it through to the end. Check out South Park: The Stick of Truth on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC today!

South Park: The Stick of Truth is now available from all major retailers for the MSRP of $59.99 and can be purchased for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. South Park: The Stick of Truth is rated M by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Mature Humor, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content & Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official South Park: The Stick of Truth website.

Game Features:
  • Single Player
  • Authentic South Park Characters, Voices and World
  • Heavy JRPG Influences
  • DLC Support
  • Trophy/Achievement Support

Game Information:
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (reviewed) & PC
Release Date: March 4, 2014

Score: 9 out of 10
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