South Park: The Stick of Truth (PlayStation 3) Review

By Adam Riley 27.04.2014 1

Review for South Park: The Stick of Truth on PlayStation 3

"So come on down to South Park and meet some friends of mine!" goes the final line of the South Park theme tune, and in South Park: The Stick of Truth that is exactly what players must do in the hope of recovering the Stick of Truth, a mighty weapon that permits its owner to rule the universe (perhaps). An epic RPG awaits, except with a typical Matt Stone and Trey Parker twist, with Obsidian Entertainment pulling the strings on the gameplay front. This is no Neverwinter Nights, Alpha Protocol or Dungeon Siege III, yet that is certainly no reflection on the quality of this Ubisoft-published piece of entertainment…or is it?

It really does not bode well for a game when after just a few minutes of playing it freezes or glitches. Sadly, this is what happened with South Park: Stick of Truth during the review process. After a comical introduction, whereby a character of the player's own creation (the 'new kid' that conveniently never speaks) is transplanted into the heart of a whimsical - and highly comical - tale of children waging war against each other in the hope of claiming the 'Stick of Truth,' a battle ensued…and simply did not end. Stuck in a loop, a hard reset was required. Things could only get better, right? Well, as the game continued, its turn-based battle system also proved frustrating due to its circular command menu, with no 'lock on' for each option (fight, use magic, access items, special moves, and so on, yet no 'escape' option), meaning positioning the pointer accurately on the desired command more often than not proved awkward using the PlayStation 3 controller's left thumbstick. Other moments along the way caused plenty of annoyance as well, especially one specific scenario right near the conclusion of the main story (no spoilers!). However, perseverance is the key, as in its entirety, The Stick of Truth is a really satisfying experience, full of wit, crudeness, shocks, belly laughs, with bucket loads of inventiveness thrown in for good measure. Anyone thinking this is a cheap cash-in should think again. Overlook the odd almost game-breaking flaw here and there, and what is on offer is pure South Park magic.

Those that watched the truncated Season 17 of the TV show may wonder what this has to offer - well, never fear, as it complements it perfectly, lifting some of the ideas from it and almost acting like a few new episodes rolled into one. Saying that, those that have not watched South Park since the early days are not alienated and will still recognise plenty of references throughout - from a special anal probe device (allowing for transportation to otherwise unreachable areas) to an obsession with David Hasselhoff (visit Tom's Rhinoplasty and prepare to be shocked), elements from all those years ago are expertly mixed in with newer aspects/characters (Timmy and Jimmy are here: Sir Timmy's Fast Travel Locations allow for rapid transport to key areas to save time trekking around, and there is the inclusion of scenes where Jimmy spends so long stuttering over certain words that a 'Skip Scene' button appears, plus the Goth Kids also make show their faces). It is an amalgamation of odds and sods from across the show's existence, making it universally appealing to fans old and new alike. What it does not do, though, is bring anything to the table that would convert those who think the show is extremely distasteful - this is all about the fans, serving up the closest thing to a South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut sequel than could ever be expected.

Screenshot for South Park: The Stick of Truth on PlayStation 3

A lot of criticism levelled at Stick of Truth so far has been about its difficulty, with the battles seemingly too simple and overall game length being shorter than many would have liked. However, whilst reviewing this - what proves to easily be the best South Park-related gaming spin-off, full stop - neither issue reared its head. As play goes on, various objectives become available, from cutting down an opposing team's banners around town, to killing homeless people, or even collecting Nazi medallions from corpses after a worrisome viral outbreak (that is censored for the most part in the German edition, just as the anal probe and abortion sections are in the UK edition reviewed here…and yet exploring the innards of someone's back passage was not, oddly enough…anyway…), as well as finding children hiding in all sorts of places and retrieving missing underwear. The range of tasks given to the lead character and the person in tow (Cartman, Stan, Kyle, Princess Kenny, Jimmy, Butters - all at varying times throughout the adventure, and later on freely interchangeable, and all coming with their own unique 'buddy abilities') is wonderfully vast and typically off the wall, as would be expected from the minds of Messers Parker and Stone.

Raiding people's homes is hilarious as well - wandering into a random building to stumble across a couple having sex, only to be chucked out and the door promptly locked, or grabbing whatever can be found in unlocked drawers, from pubic hair, dodgy reading material and vibrators, to Terence and Philip dolls. Even the most innocuous of items have some witty description when checked in the inventory, and fun can be had merely wandering around targeting objects to shoot (birds nests or people) or smash (…anything). Speaking of which, heading into the menu screen on a regular basis can be tiresome because there is (at least in the PS3 version tested) a frustrating delay each time, but rewards come in the form of a message board where newly acquired Friends post plenty of irreverent comments (the most from Al Gore…), and popping in often is encouraged in order to keep track of new Friends, as well as for swapping weapons and armour around, adding various attachments to them to boost status attributes (certain items can have two bolt-ons, others one or even none, yet may have higher stats in the first place, so finding the best combination is key).

There is so much peripheral content poured into this, complementing the main adventure and adding hours of gameplay on top of the main adventure before even triggering the next story sequence. Despite some agonising jolts along the way - some of which almost threaten to kill the experience completely - slogging on is truly worthwhile, and South Park: The Stick of Truth ultimately proves to be something no fan of the show should be without.

Screenshot for South Park: The Stick of Truth on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

South Park: The Stick of Truth is a joy to play through, with the typical humour - and obscenities - expected from the TV show and the amazing movie. Parker and Stone's script is expertly crafted, with even the tiniest of details not being overlooked, and then Obsidian has taken that and overlaid it upon a solid-if-not-spectacular RPG engine that has a few glitches that will make people want to turn off immediately and never come back. However, then another genius moment or shockingly hilarious comment will rear its head and the bugs or mundane battle system will once more become secondary to what is a superb experience overall.

Developer

Obsidian Entertainment

Publisher

Ubisoft

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Has nobody else played this?

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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