South Park: Stick of Truth – Initial Thoughts

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In my first few hours of playing Stick of Truth, I have done three poos, seen boobs, caught a man masturbating, and rooted through Mrs Cartman’s drawers, stealing her dildos.

When I first heard about the Stick of Truth, I have to admit that I was sceptical. More often than not, games based on films or television shows are just…awful. Many times they are just churned out as a quick money maker, with a few jokes and references slapped into the mix for fans – just look at the recent Family Guy game. But Stick of Truth is something different: something better.

I have only played the game for a couple of hours so far, but I enjoyed every second. This is a true adaptation – a fantastic effort of transforming the wondrous, ingenious world of South Park into an interactive campaign.

My guy...super cool.
My guy…super cool.

As with many RPGs, the first thing you must do is create your character. You can choose skin colour (ranging from white to Jersey style spray-tan), hair, clothing and accessories. As you progress through the game, you find more and more items for customisation – many of which are references to previous South Park episodes – so you will probably end up creating a very unique character…the irony being, of course, that 90% of South Park’s child characters all share the same face model. About 20 minutes into gameplay, you choose your character class. These include RPG classics Mage, Warrior and Thief, as well as the addition of the Jew class. Naturally, I chose Thief, enabling me to use unique abilities to back stab enemies. One gripe I have with this character class system, however, is that it appears that any class can wield any weapon or armour. Whilst this, again, adds to the uniqueness of your character, I don’t think that there will be much of an incentive to replay the game – at least, not where character creation is concerned. Anyway, I have digressed. So yeah, you make your character, who is the new kid in town, and you’re flung straight into an epic conflict between the elves and humans over the legendary Stick of Truth. Of course, as with a number of the events that occur in the small Colorado mountain town, this is just a kids’ make-believe game taking place in the back gardens and streets of South Park. However I can only assume, true to the show’s nature, that as the story unfolds it will become a lot bigger than just the kids. World threat and all that. And that’s one of the things that makes this game so enjoyable – it’s full of references. Good references. References every season of South Park, not just the recent ones. Pretty much every item relates to a previous episode. In my short time of playing, I

Cartman's wardrobe, full of memorabilia from past episodes.
Cartman’s wardrobe, full of memorabilia from past episodes.

encountered Romper Stomper, a poster for Timmy and the Lords of the Underworld, Faith +1 CDs and many, many more. There is also a wonderful amount of pop culture references, alluding to franchise such as Grand Theft Auto or Game of Thrones.

The combat system follows traditional 90s RPGs a la Final Fantasy (that is to say, turn based combat), which just emphasises how well this game has been researched. This game has been created for a specific audience, and they know that audience well. Aesthetically, this game is beautiful. To quote a recent IGN review that I read, “it’s

A billboard just brimming with references!
A billboard just brimming with references!

the most beautiful, crappy looking game out there”. The animation looks like an episode of South Park. It’s uncanny. Apart from the occasional frame rate issue or clipping, you could be mistaken for thinking that this was one big ol’ episode. The detail that has gone into creating a living world really pays off. Characters go about their daily business, and no one is every just stood still. This may sound like a mundane thing, but characters that blink and move their bodies whilst idle really helps create an immersive environment. Overall the writing is brilliant too. As stated the script made me laugh out loud quite a few times. The most recent series of the show was a bit hit and miss, I found, but if that’s because Trey Parker and Matt Stone were focusing on writing this, then I can totally forgive them. It’s funny, crude and everything that you would expect from South Park. It’s also self-aware – I noticed Cartman making various remarks on how ‘this is a video game’, which only adds to the humour.

My final point is about the amount of stuff that there seems to be able to do. The map is pretty big – this is the first time (if I remember correctly) that the town of South Park has been geographically mapped out – and full of areas to explore, people to talk to, and collectable such as Chinpokomon to find.Stick of Truth - South Park backyaard

I’ve only scratched the surface of this game, but I cannot wait to explore more. Fans who have followed the show for years will inevitably get more out of it than the more casual watcher, but that doesn’t detract from the overall experience. If you’re planning on playing this game, then you know what kind of ride you’re in for, which, so far, has been brilliant. Now we just wait until this game gets blamed for all the wrong that is in the world…