Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Truth In A Stick

After YEARS of waiting, and some handovers on the publisher, South Park: The Stick of Truth is finally out today!

And I got a sneak peak of it, but under the promise that I wouldn't post anything about it until today. If you're too lazy to read the whole post I can easily summarize the game as this:

It's sticky goodness.

There. Now you don't have to read and can go about the rest of your day. Have fun guys!

*walks away*

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..

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Oh alright, I guess I could talk about it some more.

There is some obvious bias to my review because I am a South Park fan. Having said that, most of the games licensed out under the brand have been sucky. The Nintendo 64 game was one of the first attempts to bridge the series with a game tie-in, and it wasn't bad. Snowball fights with yellow snow, go-carts, and lots of first player shooting action with random arse weapons, it wasn't bad. The follow-ups such as Chef's Loveshack and Tenorman's Revenge just crap on top of crap in the long lineage of "game tie-ins that suck." The light in the pile of poop was Let's Go Tower Defense, made by an indie company for the Xbox360. And it's still fun to pick up and play from time to time. Yes it's a tried and true concept, but throwing in South Park characters and using different parameters livened up the genre.

So Stick of Truth has a lot of live up to; both in trying to suceed when all of the other games have failed, and to prove that the licensing out of the name can yield at least one fantastic game.

SP: SoT is a role playing game conjuring up a Dungeons & Dragons/Lord of the Rings feel. Of course if you watch South Park and the 16th season with the Black Friday trilogy, you already knew that. You play as the new kid in town and have just been booted out of your house by your parents in order to meet the kids. And then you get swept up in the quest for The Stick of Truth. Cartman is the King Wizard, has raised an army of human cardboard minions to protect the stick from the Elven faction two houses down (because he who holds the stick, holds the truth). You choose your job role as thief, mage, warrior, or Jew, and enlist in the human forces. It's a turned based RPG where you and your teammate (which can range from Butters the Paladin to Kawaii Princess Kenny) slay through the hordes of enemies and Elves. And much like an RPG, you can pick up equipment like fake vampire teeth (vamp kids, ugh!) to inflict additional damage. The fake teeth represents "bleed" damage. Funny. I know.

The game itself is quite short. You can run through it in 10-12 hours with relative ease. What makes the game enjoyable is the replay value. There are an infinite number of job combinations, equipment patches, and upgrades to keep you busy and test out new things. Not to mention the witty dialogue between the characters. You almost want to kill your character over and over again just to hear the myriad of dialogue being spewed from Cartman's mouth. To continue on with the equipment and items, there are also abilities you can unlock as you play. Making friends in the game provides you with more abilities. And yes, there are fart abilities based on what your character eats and how he toots. They're 8 year old kids in the 4th grade. What else did you expect?

What I adore about SoT is how much it replicates the world of South Park. It's the paper-craft digital rendition that we have all embraced over the years, with masking tape patched up cardboard roadblocks and castles included. Jokes involve adult humor, but in the way that it playful to kids. Jew jokes that only Cartman can make, and potty humor that is truly Terrance and Phillip, it's a game where the world has had the best translation from tv show to video game. But the developers took it a step further and instead of trying to rehash a show or a few episodes, they made the game a stand-alone that ties in with the South Park universe. As I was playing I could easily see it fitting in as a bridge between seasons. And yes, all of the jokes you anticipate from the show are free to fly. You almost have to wonder how this game did not get an AO rating on the dialogue alone.

This isn't a perfect game, but this is pretty damn close for South Park's history. There are a few bugs here and there with equipment which is already being addressed by Ubisoft (who bought the rights to the game when THQ went under) so expect some patching soon. And at times the turn based style feels slow when you want the action to intensify. And jokes are repetitive, but that's to be expected when you replay things over and over again. But as a whole, this is a game worth picking to play...over and over again. (I failed at re-wording that, but you get the point.) I can't wait to see what the DLC content has to add to the story.

Next up: I'm still waiting on that South Park Rock Band game. Hop on it guys!

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