South Park: The Stick of Truth: PS3 Review
Released by Ubisoft
When the South Park game was delayed, there were rumblings that it wasn't going to be as good as we'd secretly been hoping.
To coin a phrase from the show itself, that makes us all "douche bags" because this is quite possibly one of the best ever adaptations of a TV show to video game that I've ever seen. In fact, it's like controlling an actual episode of South Park itself - which will make more sense as we go on.
In the Stick of Truth, you play The New Kid, who comes to live in South Park after a mysterious event. Sent out into the streets of South Park by his parents and tasked with making friends, the first person he meets is Butters, who quickly becomes his pal. However, it's not long before you meet the foul mouthed Cartman, in his back garden fantasy land. Things go a little awry when the Stick of Truth is stolen from Cartman's domain, and your quest becomes to return it. And it's here that you get to explore South Park, while trying to save the day.
Unleashed and uncensored (apart from a few scenes that have been cut for the NZ release) this is South Park at its most confrontational, with foetuses, abortion, anal probes, the KKK all thrown into the mix for shocking effect - and yet all are perfectly integrated into the landscape, that it makes the South Park film look tame in parts. Which is saying something, given how much that pushed the envelope.
I'm loathe to give away too much more of the plot, given that half the vicarious thrill of this game is seeing how it plays out and where it goes, but if you're a fan of the show, you really won't be disappointed with what's been committed to the gaming world. In fact, it makes you think of the halcyon days of the show where nothing was off limits and everything was a target....
In terms of gameplay, it's a lot of moving around the South Park world and fighting other kids who are part of the Cartman fantasy world (and dressed as elves). Fighting itself is relatively easy - and takes the form of a roleplay game, where you have a turn, then your opponents have on and so on until one of you is felled. Using weapons and special powers, it's a case of being a little patient when in this environment as it can take a little time to get through a scrap. But there's humour within those too, with the New Kid's special power being a baseball hit that sees him swing the bat and simply deck his opposing number. Subtle it ain't, but childishly funny, it is.
Graphically, the game is spot on, with every character looking like they've basically been lifted from the TV show and thrown into the world - right down to the wonky screen movement of the characters within the game.
Occasionally though, there are some frustrations with load times appearing without warning to cripple the gameplay - which is annoying given how short the distance is that you've travelled on screen. Equally, after defeating some of the kids in the game in a fight, you can go into a building and then come out and have to face them again. It's minor moments like this which slightly jar the gameplay and prevent it from fully flowing.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is an incredibly good adaptation of the TV series. From its puerile humour to its perfect recreation of the world it's based on, it's perfectly captured the best of a video game adaptation. And it's certainly raised the bar for future games of its ilk. Which is no mean feat.