In Short

It may not be the most difficult, the longest or most extensive of RPGs, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more hilarious or joyous one out there. And don’t think you’ll be short-changed on gameplay either – South Park: The Stick of Truth is a well-crafted RPG that delivers more than enough to please the most ardent of RPG fans. It is also so wonderfully South Park.

Developer: Obsidian
Distributor: Megarom
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3
If we had to give it a numerical score: 8.9/10

What I loved

  • ·         Well crafted audio/visual experience
  • ·         Dialogue… oh my f… what a script
  • ·         Fighting mechanics
  • ·         So typically South Park
  • ·         RPG-like gameplay stands up to the best of them

Not so much

  • ·         You won’t get any whining from me
  • ·         If there is anything wrong, I was either too charmed by the gameplay or laughing my ass off to notice

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The first few minutes introduce you to the humorous story, in typical South Park storytelling fashion. Then when I got the tutorial going, I thought okay, it’s not going to be a silly example of RPG gameplay, as I worried it might. A few hours into it and you’ll be as pleased as you would be playing any other accomplished RPG. If I have one complaint it is that on normal difficulty it is a little light. This does however keep the pace of the game flowing nicely, and I look forward to another play-through (or five) at a higher difficulty.

The Stick of Truth is even a lot more stylish than most in the genre, who often struggle to keep their large game-worlds unperturbed. Obsidian kept the gaming world neat and well organised, making good use of smaller spaces. The art is exactly like the television series, so not the most complex looking. Make no mistake though, TSOT was very well put together- it looks and sounds fantastic, and none of what makes South Park so unique and hilarious was lost in the dialogue and script. There is so much goodness here for the avid fans, whereas newcomers should just be knocked to the floor every time something comes out of Cartman’s mouth. Playing the game just for the narrative would’ve actually been enough, for a great laugh if anything. Like I said though, a couple hours into it, and you learn that this is a pretty serious RPG too. It’s all there, from the looting; to the customizing your character, equipping them with magic and weapons, these elements are worthy and as deep as you would want.

There’s replay value too, thanks to the different classes you can pick – a Fighter, a Mage, Thief or Jew class (don’t ask me). There’s so much choice of magic and weapons on offer, that I would think no two playtgroughs would be alike. I chose a Mage, focused mostly on magic, so I’m already looking forward to a play through with a different skill-set.

For me, with RPG games, the battle system makes it or breaks it. TSOT does not disappoint. The system is not only crisp and rewarding, but humorous too. The fighting is turn-based, but you also fight in real time with certain attacks. Like countering for example, if you block perfectly, you can deal a quick counter. The battle system is deep too, not only because of the plethora of weapons and magic available, but because the various foes will require you to approach them differently. Some foes will be heavily shielded for example, so you need to deal a few quick, smaller blows to break through the shield, before unleashing heavier attacks. You control both characters is battles (you and your pal) and so you need, in turn-based style, attack; defend and revive both characters. You get a load of different potions for health boosting and cures, and different types of magical attacks. Then each character is equipped with a bashing weapon (like a stick or sword), a shooting weapon (a toy bow and arrow) which is used for ranged attacks and magic attacks. So the various groups that you battle require different combinations of defence and attack, keeping you thinking in true RPG fashion.

The rest of the gameplay, astonishingly, is always SO South Park while offering exactly what you’d expect from a good game in the genre – the worthy progressive system, always keeping you scrounging for loot, looking for the next upgrade; the arranging of main quests, opening up sub-quests; opening up fast-travel routes – it’s all there. I apologise for sounding so astonished, but I was. You never forget that it’s a South Park gig, never stop laughing, but there’s nothing you need to, “overlook” or “forgive”. Obsidian did an outstanding job of delivering immersive RPG goodness without needing to compromise. I remember when we learnt TSOT was going to be an RPG, I for one thought how? It wouldn’t be the first or second time a developer tried to marry film or television with games and botched it all up. That is so far from the case here though.


Closing Comments

South Park: The Stick of Truth really took me by surprise. I knew it would be funny, authentic and probably a game I would want, if only for the said reasons alone. What I did not expect is how a proper RPG game could be married with the outrageous theme that is South Park. Obsidian didn’t just get this right, they absolutely got it right and then some! The Stick of Truth is filled with what makes a great RPG great – from the entertaining battle mechanics, to the deep looting and progression. The game was also excellently put together, oozing quality in the finest of details. To top it all off, this is all bundled with the authentic hilarity that is South Park humour, making for a truly memorable and immersing gaming experience like no other.

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