|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Obsidian Entertainment|
|Release: Q3 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
South Park and Obsidian Games—now there's a duo none of expected to see.
Let's face it, licensed games have a history of being horrible cash-in attempts that aren't really worth being played by anyone. Obsidian Entertainment, on the other hand, generally produces high-quality products such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout: New Vegas, and Dungeon Siege III. Now they are deep in development of South Park: The Stick of Truth, a new RPG using the South Park IP. Can they make a licensed RPG that doesn't completely suck? More importantly, if they succeed, will it even feel like South Park?
In The Stick of Truth, you take on the role of a new kid in the town of South Park, and much like traditional RPG protagonists, you never utter a word. Cartman has started up a brand new live action roleplaying game, or LARP, in the town, and, in one of your poorer decisions, you decide to join. The game's plot structure sounds like a cross between the episode where the gang attempts to return Lord of the Rings to the video store and the episode where the gang buys weapons and pretends they are anime characters.
You'll actually get to see the world of South Park through the imaginations of its cast of characters. For example, if you pick up a spatula, it will turn into a giant axe for your character to wield.
Cartman's game allows you to create a character of one of five basic classes: Fighter, Mage, Thief, Cleric, or Jew. The four traditional classes play as you expect, with fighters focusing on melee combat, thieves focusing on stealth and ranged weapons, clerics focusing on healing, and mages focusing on powerful magic spells. The Jew class, on the other hand, plays somewhere between a paladin, a monk, and a druid. They use peculiar weapons, receive bonuses as they lose hp, and generally feature high-risk/high-reward abilities.
The game's combat will be similar to the Mario RPG series in execution. Although the majority of your damage is determined by your equipment and stats, battles themselves will ask you to perform timing-based minigames to squeeze out more damage. Press a button right before your attack strikes and you'll do extra damage. Press a button right before an enemy strikes you and you will take less damage. The design team has said that they will be evolving this formula, adding a variety of minigames with several different effects. For example, perfectly timed button presses can either totally negate the damage you receive, allow you to counterattack, or even cause you to take more damage while gaining power in some way. The minigames for special abilities will be many and varied, much like Super Mario RPG.
Not much has been revealed about the game's equipment system, but the development team has said that they do not want the game to fall into the Diablo-style endless loot cycle. Instead, they want players to become attached to the weapon that their character is wielding, as if it's a part of the character themselves. Current materials point toward some sort of "socketing" system, which supposedly will be a parody of the Final Fantasy VII Materia system. This would allow a character to keep a single weapon through much of the game and simply continue to power it up. The developers have already mentioned weapon upgrades such as speed and attack, as well as a wealth of other enchantments, like poison that damages the enemy over time.
The big draw of The Stick of Truth will obviously be all the South Park references. For example, Chinpokomon will make a return, and you will be able to bring them into battle with you. The game will actually feature as-of-yet-unrevealed Chinpokomon designs, although everyone is going to want to add Shoe to their party anyway.
The game will also feature enemies and NPCs familiar to South Park enthusiasts. We will get to see gingers, vampires, goths, hippies, bikers, crab people, jakovasaurs, gnomes, and more. Hopefully we will even have a climactic battle with Mecha-Striesand.
Players will be able to call friends into the battle as well. Normally, they will control a small party of themselves and maybe one other South Park character. However, here's hoping that they can call in Lemmiwinks, Jesus, Mr. Hanky, and a variety of other characters we've grown to love over the years.
South Park: The Stick of Truth has not yet been given a release date, but hopefully we will see more of the game this year at E3. We will give you more information on Obsidian's new turn-based South Park-themed RPG as it becomes available.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: May 14, 2012