They Killed Kenny!
As much as fans of the crude, often blasphemous, and inanely genius animated series may wish to the contrary, South Park just doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to video game tie-ins. Considering most of the titles have wound up being nothing more than bare-bones, sloppily-made affairs featuring the show’s well-known cartoon characters slapped into them, it’s natural for gamers to approach a South Park-themed tower defense game with mixed feelings of hope and dread. Surprisingly, low expectations aren’t the only savior of South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!; it’s actually a decent game.
Followers of the show will be pleased to find South Park’s journey into tower defense territory isn’t toned down that much from the cartoon, and much of the obligatory crass remarks and profanity that enthusiastic viewers have come to expect are found here fully intact and un-bleeped. Players who are easily offended will probably find themselves slackjawed by some of the more colorful comments spewed from the diminutive hero quartet, which include snippets like, “man, this is f*cking weak,” “these guys are total p***ies,” “suck my balls,” and frequent gay remarks, among other choice phrases. Needless to say, this is definitely not a game to fire up around visiting relatives, your significant other, or gram and gramps, unless they’re down for some crudity.
The game opens in the wintry mountaintops of Colorado, where an unknown evil force has decided to send an assortment of horrific, deadly monstrosities shambling towards South Park in an effort to erase the oddball run-down town off the planet. Cartman takes note of the strange invaders and decides to mount a resistance to save his hometown. Gathering his pals Stan, Kyle, and Kenny, Cartman and the group of foul-mouthed grade-schoolers cobble together a piecemeal defense and fortify key locations around the neighborhood. Armed with snowballs and the ability to erect an unusual assortment of towers to beef up your gimpy arsenal, you’ll dig in for some classic tower defense gameplay with a few fresh twists.
At the start of each level, you’ll spend the limited funds you have available to place defensive towers at important spots (as long as they’re over a patch of snow) and construct maze-like snow walls to route enemy forces into your line of fire. The timer starts ticking immediately, so there’s no dillydallying before foes start charging in. Slaughtering waves of invaders makes them drop coins that you can snatch up and spend on beefing up your fortifications. All of this falls under the standard tower defense rubric. Where LGTDP does things a little differently is you can move your characters around the field directly and engage in battle in real-time while everything else is going on around you.
In the campaign, you can only directly control one character at a time, but most levels require you to juggle between the four. Each has different special abilities that can be unleashed once they’re fully charged. Cartman summons forth a cataclysmic fire that destroys all the enemies in sight, Kenny makes all the foes drop change without killing them, and Kyle and Stan have healing and speed boost powers. All of the kids can chuck snowballs and lay down towers, although they have different movement speeds to factor in. A tap of the RB cycles between them. Anyone you’re not directly controlling will stay in place and fling snowballs at nearby enemies, which can be used strategically as well.
The aforementioned horrific, deadly monstrosities that come crawling, running, and slathering at your meager fortifications throughout the game are made up of a parade of humorous guest stars from the show. Early on you’ll battle cows, dirty hippies that sing, chanting underwear gnomes, Christmas critters, and other smaller adversaries. Further along in the campaign you’ll encounter tougher enemies, including zombies, homeless people, terrorists, old people, and Mongolians. There are a few other funny surprises as well.
LGTDP’s cartoonish presentation is a spot-on match to the show, and the level of consistency between the settings and characters found between the two is impressive. Don’t expect to be blown away by the visuals, though they certainly match the tone and look of the cartoon better than some past game tie-ins have. Cutscenes between missions are done in a moving panel comic format that doesn’t quite do the characters and their personalities justice. Fortunately, the strong voice work featured throughout the game picks up some of the slack.
Some foes have vulnerabilities to specific defenses, while others are simply tough bastards. Most of the six towers you have at your disposal are pretty standard fare. There are cheaper turrets that throw snowballs and shoot lasers, pricier ordinance emplacements that launch fiery cherry bombs and fireworks missiles, and more exotic towers that shoot cat pee and freeze enemies. You can unlock two more bizarre weapons by playing through extra challenge levels. In some cases, the levels themselves can be used to your advantage. The crane at the junkyard in Kenny’s backyard that can be used to drop trashed cars on opponents, the sewage-spewing sewer pipe at the sixth-grade hangout douses friend and foe in nasty fluid, and the anti-Mongolian secret sauce dumped from the great wall are just a few examples.
Playing through the campaign on your own or with three other friends unlocks lots of extras that South Park fans will get a kick out of. There are lots of short video clips from different episodes to watch that introduce certain characters and events. More importantly, you’ll unlock other kid characters from the series to play as in online play and the challenge maps. LGTDP is definitely at the top of the pile of South Park games. It’s a good mix of tower defense and real-time strategy that stays true to the source material and offers an over-the-top dose of humor. A slightly unforgiving difficulty curve and the curious decision to leave out some classic South Park support characters keep it from being a profane masterpiece. That said, this is one game South Park lovers can truly appreciate.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
Great settings and goofy characters rendered in the classic South Park style match up with the show nicely. 3.6 Control
Controlling multiple characters on your own can be challenging, and it’s not always easy to place towers where you want them. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Hilarious voice-overs and cursing galore. 3.6 Play Value
Quite a few levels to play through. Online play and challenge levels are nice, though the overall experience is rather short. 3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.