South Park: The Stick of Truth (360)

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Seventeen years ago, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker brought to life one of the most hilariously offensive shows in television history. Throughout the course of its time on TV, it’s been one of the most consistently hilarious, relevant and absurd shows ever. While it has dominated the airwaves, fans have never been given a solid video game to be proud of. N64, PlayStation and Xbox Live Arcade saw a slew of decent (in their own rights) games, but nothing overly memorable. Trey and Matt not being directly involved in the process definitely played a major part in that. That is, until The Stick of Truth.

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The Stick of Truth was set up beautifully in the three-part episode arc of South Park’s seventeenth season: “Black Friday”, “A Song of Ass and Fire” and “Titties and Dragons”. As the kids of South Park strike out in order to obtain their next-gen consoles of choice, an epic rift splits the children between PlayStation 4’s and Xbox One’s. This rift carries over in The Stick of Truth.

As you start a new game, you’ll be able to completely customize your character from its hairstyle, to its eyes and clothes. While the choices felt limited off the bat, you’ll obtain so many costume variants throughout the course of the game, you’ll have too many options soon enough. After completing your character, your parents will tell you to go out and make friends. After wandering around for a bit, you’ll stumble upon Butters, who will take you to Cartman’s house, more specifically his backyard kingdom known as the Kingdom of Kupa Keep (KKK). After affectionately being dubbed “Douchebag”, you’ll be prompted to choose your class. Your options are: Fighter (high armor and weapons, focus on brute force), Mage (physically weak but make up for it with special attacks with status effects), Thief (specialize in status effects that deal heavy damage over time) and finally the most South Park class of all – the Jew, which is considered high risk, high reward as you’re able to become more powerful the closer you are to death. As much as I wanted to select the Jew class out of pure curiosity, I ended up going with the Thief class, which ended up being ideal.

“At first I didn’t want to join the KKK at all, but the Grand Wizard made some really good points.” – Token

As the war heats up between the KKK and The Elves over The Stick of Truth, the KKK is eventually attacked by the The Elves. Clyde, who was given the duty of protecting the Stick of Truth, fails and is banished from the KKK by Cartman. After Clyde is banished, Douchebag is tasked with hailing three of the KKK’s warriors: Tweek, Craig and Token. As your journey to recovery the Stick of Truth intensifies, you’ll face many, many different foes ranging from Elves to Ginger Hall Monitors, wild animals, Nazi Zombies and Aliens.

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The Stick of Truth’s combat is similar to the likes of Paper Mario and Final Fantasy. It’s turn based, but with more emphasis on timing perfect attacks. For example, each attack – whether it’s from your primary weapons, farts or abilities – deal drastically more damage when timed perfectly. As you go through the turn, they’ll be a little twinkle of light at the end of your weapon telling you when to press the corresponding button. Perfecting the perfect attack makes combat a breeze, especially against tougher bosses. You’re also able to augment each weapon and piece of armor with equipment patches that allow it special qualities like extra damage on a perfect attack, frost/fire/gross out/electric damage or allowing you to gain health or PP back with a perfect attack.

On top of your weapons and equipment patches, you’re also able to use consumables (the likes of which include Tweek Bros. Coffee, Weight Gain 4000, Cheese Poofs and many more) to improve your health, PP and fart mana as well as granting you extra defense/attack and granting you extra turns before your opponents.

“Is this your first time getting probed? Yeah, it’s a pain but that’s the price you pay for a remote little mountain town. At least we don’t have to deal with traffic.” – Randy Marsh

The combat was a little overwhelming at first, but after a few battles you’re able to pick everything up pretty quickly. The Stick of Truth is also a lot more accessible for those who, like myself, aren’t really used to this type of game. Your health and PP are automatically restored after each battle, greatly helping you for areas with a greater density of enemies.

You’re also not alone in combat. Over the course of the game you’ll be able to cycle though several companions to help you in battle as well as use the buddy assist prompts in the real world. You can use any one of the following: Cartman, Stan, Kyle, Kenny, Jimmy and Butters. Each has their own unique special abilities and primary weapons. I was partial to Cartman and Butters, myself. At certain portions of the game you’ll be required to have a specific companion with you, but for the most part you’re able to switch them out at will. After completing quests for Mr. Slave, Mr. Hankey, Jesus and Tuong Lu Kim (City Wok guy), you’ll be able to summon them once per day to help you beat a group you’re fighting (though they make it very well known that they won’t help you during boss battles). After each day you’ll have to go back to where they are in town to regain their services (a fact the game does a poor job of explaining).

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There’s a lot to get through in The Stick of Truth, from keeping track of your inventory to your quests, abilities, map and collectables. To keep track of this, South Park made your main hub, naturally, a Facebook page. You’ll be able to seamlessly switch between each portion keeping track of your friends (there are 122 characters to friend throughout the game), collectables (30 Chinpokomon, hundreds of outfit pieces) and quests. Your inventory can get very cluttered very quickly, thankfully there’s a toy chest in your room where you can store things to reduce the clutter.

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(my character)

The best part of the game isn’t the combat or the social hud, it’s the fanfare. The entire game is just one giant Easter egg for longtime fans of the show. Enter a house and the TV will play various clips from Terrance and Phillip episodes, enter businesses and hear “Taco Flavored Kisses”, various Chef songs and many more over  the radios in each business. Enter any of the main four boys’ closets and you’ll just be blown away by every tiny detail they throw in there. Over the course of the game you’ll also accumulate a lot of “junk” (items that serve no purpose except to sell), most of which serve as reminders of past episodes. Go into Cartman’s moms room and you’ll find crack pipes and black dildos. You’ll also find Cherokee hair tampons, lice, copies of The Poop That Took a Pee and so many other throwbacks.

The town itself is its own reward, too. For the first time ever, the entire town has been mapped out and is accessible for you to explore. Every building in the town is accessible at one point or another. A convenient fast travel system (which is Sir Timmy’s Fast Travel) allows you to quickly move around the town if you don’t feel like walking from one side to the other.

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Many, many fan-favorite characters return throughout the course of the game. I was a little disappointed in the few notables that didn’t, but with a character list being as massive as what South Park has, there’s no point in complaining about something as trivial as that.

If you just play through the main quests of the game, you’ll probably beat it in upwards of 10 hours, but if, like me, you spend plenty of time combing every inch of the town you’ll probably get closer to twenty hours out of your first play through of the game. Unfortunately for fans in a few countries, certain scenes were banned from the final product – namely scenes where you’re getting anal probed and another where you give Randy an abortion. How the final product made it past the ESRB in the United States is a miracle of its own. But then again, South Park has basically been given a free pass now (unless they feature Muhammed).

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After completing the story, The Stick of Truth makes one thing abundantly clear: any South Park game going forward must feature Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s involvement. Their attention to detail shows just how much love they have for their show as well as their loyal fans. It manages to be hilariously offensive, while still holding on to the charm and whit that has made South Park such a satirical gold mine for almost two decades. If you’re a fan of the show, you need to own this game. This is absolutely the funniest video game of all time. Thank you Matt and Trey. Bravo.

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The Good

+ The game South Park fans deserve.

+ Funniest video game of all time.

+ Looks and feels exactly like the show.

+ Canada. Just...Canada.

+ Accessible combat for those not familiar with turn-based combat.


The Bad

- Lack of New Game+

- Not much replay value once you've done everything.

Verdict10

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