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Arts in Review

Cascade Arcade: South Park: The Stick of Truth

Not since EA’s The Simpsons Game has there ever been a movie or television-licensed game that has delivered both great gameplay and exceptional fan service. Sometimes we’ve seen games deliver one or the other — or most of the time none at all.

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By Jeremy Hannaford (Contributor) – Email

Print Edition: March 12, 2014

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Not since EA’s The Simpsons Game has there ever been a movie or television-licensed game that has delivered both great gameplay and exceptional fan service. Sometimes we’ve seen games deliver one or the other — or most of the time none at all.

But South Park: The Stick of Truth does both perfectly. It is, in my opinion, the best licensed game ever made for the PS3 or Xbox 360.

Within the first five minutes, you are already plunged into crude and familiar realm known to any South Park fan.

You meet Cartman and his Kingdom of Kupa Keep, a band of warriors who constantly announce themselves as the “KKK,” and you begin to embark on a journey to recover “the stick of truth.”

With the Game of Thrones anthology episodes still fresh in mind, The Stick of Truth comes across as instantly engaging and hilarious. I found myself laughing throughout my entire playthrough. From the start, your character is tricked into being named Sir Douchebag, and that’s merely a taste of what is to come.

This game boasts a story from a script by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Reportedly 850 pages long, it is fantastic. Due to its length, developer Obsidian Entertainment reportedly tried to break off content as DLC. At a Comic-Con panel, Trey Parker simply responded with, “Fuck that” and kept the original vision intact.

A big surprise for this game is how interactive and enthralling the combat is. On the surface, it looks to be normal turned-based combat, but in truth, there are many inventive gimmicks hidden within. Timing button attacks, fart attacks, and shaking off rats to prevent Kenny from being eaten are just a few of the features that make combat as hilarious as the story. Battle scenarios are always changing, while story setups keep evolving in technique and difficulty. As if  summoned from a child’s crude imagination, alien probing devices, plastic swords, and other similar items make up the hilarious arsenal of the game.

Due to its lack of a heads-up display, however, the game sometimes does not give the greatest directions on how to execute moves. The same can be said for the various mini-games that appear. I was stuck performing an abortion on Randy Marsh for 15 minutes because I couldn’t figure out the instructions.

While the lack of information on the screen is difficult to get used to, it helps build the immersion in the game — so much so, it feels like an actual episode of South Park is playing out before you. The thematic guitar twang welcoming you back to the game is one of the many, many things that will make fans feel familiar and entertained.

Parker and Stone delayed this game for months after its original release date, but they were able to make fun of their faults in  the television show’s Game of Thrones-spoofing finale. The same tongue-in-cheek humour is here, along with the same wacky and absurd humor. Jokes poking fun at redundant audio logs, the overuse of Nazi zombies, and turning Canada into a 16-bit adventure and boasting our national anthem as the music are just a few of the many moments that will make you laugh until you cry.

Stable loading times and fluid interactivity help keep the game running smoothly and the South Park atmosphere alive. Only a touchy selection wheel prevents the presentation aspect from being perfect.

Obsidian has been notorious for games with decent stories but horrible technical prowess, such as Fallout: New Vegas, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, and Alpha Protocol. But Parker and Stone worked long and hard with Obsidian, and they’ve crafted a game they can all be proud of.

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