|System: PS3, PC, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Obsidian Entertainment|
|Release: March 4, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Mature Humor, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Violence|
by Becky Cunningham
You just can't keep the South Park kids down. This unlikely RPG, born of a collaboration between South Park's creators and the RPG wizards at Obsidian Entertainment, has survived the meltdown of publisher THQ and been purchased and knocked into shape by the Templars at Ubisoft. After several delays and three tie-in episodes of the TV show, South Park: The Stick of Truth has a (probably) final release date of March 4, 2014.
What's this South Park game all about? The player portrays a new kid in town, with a fully customizable South Park style look. The locals appear to be in the middle of LARPing, and the new kid has to fit in with the coolest fourth graders in town—Cartman, Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and maybe Butters (he's a paladin, and paladins are so totally uncool). Horrible enemies like elves, underpants gnomes, and gingers are attacking the town, and the New Kid, who has apparently been dubbed Sir Douchebag by Cartman, is tasked with finding the mythical Stick of Truth in order to defeat them.
An example of how the South Park LARP will work has been shown in an extended gameplay trailer, in which the kids venture into a neighborhood house that has been decorated as the Giggling Donkey inn. Hand-drawn signs denote the different rooms and many of the costumed kids break character during battles, announcing that they have to pee or suggesting that they could be watching cable instead of being beat up in somebody's kitchen. It's very much in the vein of a usual South Park adventure.
In traditional RPG style, there are a number of character classes to choose from. The player can be a fighter, thief, mage, cleric, or Jew (a paladin/monk who becomes stronger when closer to death). Each class has access to different kinds of equipment and attacks, naturally. Some are typical RPG fare like the warrior's stomp attack, while others like the baseball-themed Assault and Battery are silly South Park jokes.
Combat itself is turn-based with timing elements, similar to the Super Mario RPG series. Different character abilities have different timed button press sequences, though unlike QTE events, the sequences are the same every time. There will be environmental puzzles to solve using items and character abilities, as well. The New Kid appears to be able to order party members to apply their abilities to the environment. In a final RPG-meets-South Park touch, player gear can be customized via the “weapon strap-on” system.
The game has a lot of treats for South Park fans. The town has been mapped for the first time, so we'll see where all the show's locations are in relation to each other. The graphical style looks almost identical to the show, as well, and Parker and Stone have written and performed the script, just like on TV.
The Stick of Truth has a similar ESRB description to The Witcher 2 for a reason. It isn't appropriate for young gamers or for anybody who is offended by, well, much of anything. The game's pre-release material has been quite open about this fact, containing KKK jokes, rape jokes, your mom jokes, alien anal probe sequences, far too many fart jokes, and insults flung at just about any identity group you can think of. Parker and Stone pull no punches and gleefully dip into both highbrow and lowbrow humor. In fact, the game had to be modified several times in order to pass the notoriously strict Australian ratings board review.
Will South Park: The Stick of Truth bring fans old and new flocking to play a turn-based RPG on last-gen systems? It's a bit of a gamble for Ubisoft to take, but at least we know the company took the time needed to polish the game rather than simply release it as it was after THQ folded. As far as licensed games go, this one should be in pretty good shape.
Date: December 20, 2013