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South Park: The Stick of Truth: A true South Park game for true South Park fans

Hayden Dingman | March 5, 2014
Over the course of South Park: The Stick of Truth's 12-plus hour running time it throws probably a thousand (or more) jokes at you. Big jokes. Small jokes. Short jokes. Sight gags. Elaborate jokes. Dumb jokes. Offensive jokes. Political satires. Sociological commentaries. Video game commentaries. Commentary commentaries.

Game development is clearly a different beast. Stick of Truth went through one round of delays after another, and while the story is remarkably current for such a troubled game, it mostly relies on your nostalgia for the show.

Set up the ol' favorites and fart 'em down. Al Gore. Chinpokomon. Jesus. Mister Hankey, the Christmas Poo. At one point you'll battle the Penis Mouse. There's no joke, per se. Just a pleading, "Remember the Penis Mouse? Remember how funny that episode was?" Sure I do, South Park. Sure I do. But just showing me something that was funny previously doesn't make it funny again.

As I said, Stick of Truth does what's expected of it, and what's expected of it is fan service. I can't fault them for it, but I also don't think the game is that funny as a result. It's a parade of old South Park jokes you've no doubt seen before or assimilated through the cultural hivemind, and only in rare moments will it really surprise you.

The Obsidian half
That being said, I really enjoyed playing the game. The aforementioned aesthetics are part of it — this is undeniably South Park, construction paper and all. But Obsidian did its job well.

Outside of a criminally limited Options menu on the PC (you can change resolution and gamma and...that's it) and some obnoxious screen tearing (no way to enable Vsync) the game even managed to avoid that legendary Obsidian bugginess during my playthrough — though it sounds like the console versions may not be so lucky.

Character customization is endless here. I ran most of the game as a fourth grade David Bowie, with glam makeup and red mullet, but you could just as easily play as a Goth kid or a bearded hobo with mud on his face.

Combat is active turn-based — similar to the Mario & Luigi games, if you've played them. Your attack can be bolstered or hindered by the way you respond to quick-time events in the midst of combat. For instance, during a standard melee attack if you right click at the correct time you'll do a power attack and inflict more damage.

You can also use your "magic" — farts — against enemies. You unlock new farts over the course of the game (through some of the worst tutorial segments I've seen in recent history) and each has its own uses in combat. Nagasaki, for instance, can blow enemies out of the combat arena if used properly.

But any sense of tactical depth is largely unnecessary. Combat is fun, but poorly balanced. You'll always fight alongside one companion, and the two of you combined will easily walk through most fights. By the end I was one-hitting most enemies, and thanks to a handy helmet that let me attack again after KOing an opponent I'd then kill every single enemy in my first turn.

 

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