South Park: The Stick of Truth – First Impressions

I’ve begrudgingly got my xbox 360 out, I needed to play this game. After numerous delays, a changing of hands and after a long time in development, the Stick of Truth has finally been released. Originally expected around Q1 2013 before being delayed due to the shutdown of THQ, this fantastic looking title has finally reached its day of release, something which had been called into question a few times,  especially seeing as the first set back pushed it to April 2013. ELEVEN months after that, it’s finally time to play. Brilliant. After wondering whether the set backs had perhaps meant too much time had passed and that that the huge amount of hype around this game might have been lost, I’m glad I’ve picked it up. Why? Simply due to how much it sticks to the original show. It looks fantastically similar to the programme, so much so that it feels genuinely like you’re watching an episode. An episode that lasts up to 30 hours. Yes! Another game that finally has a long playtime and a long story; something not done often enough in my opinion in this modern age of gaming. This was something that Parker and Stone placed high up on the list if another game was to be made; to be as accurate as possible to the show, which was helped along when the “Black Friday trilogy” of episodes which came out during November and December 2013. This really helped drive a bit more buzz for the game and it really speaks volumes about the creators of the game; they’re willing to poke fun at themselves and at their inability to release a game on time, etc.

maxresdefault

So, lets get into the ‘nitty gritty’, as they say. The level of customisation both satisfies and leaves me wanting a bit more – I feel like they could have had a few more classes, perhaps a few like off of World of Warcraft or similar rpgs, as they’ve only got Four at present; Fighter, Mage, Thief and Jew. The Jew class is of course in line with the whole South Park rhetoric and jokes around Judaism. However, from the early preview, I expect many people will end up playing as this class; it looks like Cartman has a few jokes to tell, the Sling of David looks powerful, plus who can turn down doing Jew-Jitsu? Especially when I used to do Ju-Jitsu! What I do like however, is the amount of different features you can customise your face with – there are numerous different hair cuts and colours, as well as having the option of a black eye, bandaged face like Kenny’s brother, or Dog poo, like the background character, to so many more features, with so many of them providing a laugh. Douchebag, as your character will be called no matter what, can look like a mish-mash of your favourite characters or as odd as you’d like, or as close to yourself as you can get. Statements released from Obsidian state that they believe there are more ways to customise your character than any online generator that they’re aware of – how accurate this actually is I’m not sure.

From the off, you can tell that this script is written by the team; not like the previous games that have come out about South Park. The Kingdom of Kupa Keep, or the KKK, is the name given to the land under Cartman’s leadership – in his role as Grand Wizard … Grand Wizard of the KKK, brilliant start we’re off to. Exploring Cartman’s house is brilliant, find the dildos in Liane Cartman’s room, to hearing Eric’s song “Too many minorities” through a tape-player, to finding the Awesom-o 3000 outfit. Brilliant reference after reference, that I’m sure will keep you playing this game – I sure know it’s going to keep me playing it.

The combat system is turn-based. It’s got a timing-based mechanic, so that you can block opponent moves and to improve your chance of a critical hit, reminiscent of the PSP version of Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy, or for people who haven’t played these games, Pokemon, but on a scale where you can have larger teams on each (more than two a side). Final Fantasy is also a good comparison for the weapons – in terms of being able to put a fire or frost element onto the weapon, similar to what you can do on Dead Rising in a way. Combat relies on, as usual, upgrading your equipment, such as weapons or your farts (!!!!) or customising your armour with patches or strap-ons (that’s the actual terminology!).

South-Park-Stick-of-Truth-02

They’ve also incorporated skill trees – 4 magic spells, of which you can all equip. A choice of 20 perks, from which you can choose 10, and a choice of abilities; for which you can spend up to 50 points in; each level costs an increasing amount. There’s 5 choices, with 4 levels in each. The perks and magic are the same for every class, as the magic is the name for the choice of farts and the perks are general stuff, like extra pp points, extra damage, removing buffs etc. The talent trees for the abilities are what change, however. They’ve put the talent trees up on their facebook page; check it out, they really put me in the mood for the game as I saw it before the game was released (http://cart.mn/SoT_skilltree). There you go guys! The skill trees reflect what makes that class special, as usual, as with every other rpg, but to find out more details just as the game was coming out, great move.

The game offers a huge amount of side quests that don’t appear to need to be done at a specific time, but can fill gaps in between exploring/ help out whilst exploring. This really plays into the buddy system they’ve incorporated into the game, adding elements such as testing out different buddies/friends you can use; as well as playing into the brilliant level design and world design in general. It’s such a masterclass in combining the absolutely brilliant world that South Park is a part of, and the levels really reflect the time they’ve put into this game. The Mr. Slave level IS FANTASTIC – crawling through his arse and finding mementos such as a condoms, Mr Hat, pool balls, walls of semen that you have to burst through … just hilarious. Climbing through the corn, not digested … to find the snuke they’ve placed up Mr Slave’s … well you know where.

The number of characters was placed noticeably through the ads. Jesus, Mr Hanky, Randy and every other brilliant character. This game is what the rest of the South Park games were meant to be. This is a fantastic experience through the universe. How much longevity this game has really remains to be seen – I’ve heard that there’s not too much that brings you back into the game over and over, but I’d like to think that just by playing a different class it should be different enough to warrant a second playthrough – plus with only having the ability to choose half of the available perks, I’d like to see just how much a different set would affect the playthrough. I’m sure I’ll have so much more to add about this game, so watch out for my follow up review!