The Average Gamer

South Park: The Stick of Truth Review (PS3)

South Park Stick of Truth - Kupa Keep
Playing South Park: The Stick of Truth is much like stumbling into the greatest homage episode of all time. I won’t spoil any of the plot but you’ll find the stuffed corpse of Scuzzlebutt in Uncle Jimbo’s store, the Underpants Gnomes lurking in the cracks and even Mr. Mackey’s hoarding problem from season 14. If you’ve ever enjoyed a South Park episode, you need to get this game.

Throughout the game, the kids of South Park’s quiet little mountain town display the best and worst humour of the show, with plenty of moments that will gross out even the most unflappable fans.

For the most part, you’ll be walking around the town, making new friends and helping them out with fetch quests and killing monsters. South Park itself is done brilliantly. As a quiet little mountain town, you can generally wander in and out of other kids’ homes, checking out Cartman’s mom’s bedroom (dildos ahoy!) or accidentally walking in on people having sex with a disturbing range of things.

The Stick of Truth is made by Obsidian Entertainment, the role-playing veterans responsible for Knights of the Old Republic II, and Fallout: New Vegas. Thankfully, it’s nowhere near as buggy as New Vegas. On the PS3 I had some annoying graphical slow-downs when walking into a new area of the town (and you’d expect frame-rate issues to be the last concern of a South Park game but they’re there nonetheless) but there were no problems with any of the quests.

Obsidian have created an interesting game system which often gives you to skip battles entirely if you find the right environmental hazards or make the right friends. Many of the side-quests will have you doing a task for a familiar character like Mr Hankey (the Christmas Poo) or Jesus. Complete their tasks and you’ll be able to summon them into one battle a day to take out all your enemies, as long as you’re not fighting a boss.

South Park Stick of Truth - PissedAlternatively, look for open flames that you can fart on to cause explosions that will have half your enemies starting the battle unconscious. You can shoot hanging grates to drop them onto kids, drop live wires in water to electrocute them or simply shot people directly and they’ll start the battle stunned. Let other kids hit you first and they have the initiative in combat, but run away from them and then hit back to get the first turn for yourself. This will prove essential for some of the later battles.

At time, it seems like The Stick of Truth was designed for people new to RPGs. The turn-based battle system is quite forgiving. You can use an item at the start of each turn and digging through everyone’s drawers means that you’ll always have money for healing potions (Cheezy Poofs) or strength buffs (Weight Gain 4000). You only have 3 gear slots (hat, chest and gloves) but a range of equipment and weapon patches gives you plenty of room to customise or optimise your fighting style.

As you level up, you’ll earn four class-specific special attacks. Things like the Jew’s circum-scythe that leaves your enemy bleeding will probably have you cringing in sympathy. Upgrade it with ability points and it’ll do the same to the members of your opponent’s party. There are also loads of weapons to inflict extra debuffs and certain patches can target weaknesses if you time your hits perfectly.

South Park Stick of Truth - Mr HankeyThere are some very annoying tooltips that pop up throughout the game, especially on every attack. Thanks to the variety of commands, you probably won’t want to switch them off. On top of your own four special attacks, each buddy has another collection of powers and they’re all triggered in different ways. Hammer this button, rotate that stick, spin a stick THEN hit a button with perfect timing. It’s impossible to keep this all straight when you’re swapping characters and the instructions really should have been designed better.

My only major complaint (aside from the European censorship) was with the save system. You can’t save manually and checkpoints tend to be set before, rather than after major battles. With late-night gaming I tend to finish boss fights and then go to bed, picking up the post-battle story in the morning. More than once, I had to replay a fight because it hadn’t saved my win.

Regardless, The Stick of Truth is a brilliant game with great writing and a story that perfectly fits the South Park world. Buy it. Love it.

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