Tuesday, March 4, 2014

South Park: The Stick of Truth Review Potty Humor Plays Well

 by Jonathan Bilski

South Park: The Stick of Truth

You've held it in long enough. The power surges through you. You are the chosen one that the prophecy has spoken of and inside you is a great and terrible power. A power so mighty your foes cry at its beauty. They fall to their knees in astonishment of what you commit. You release the all-powerful Dragon Shout! You just farted on that dude new kid, that so kewl! South Park: The Stick of Truth has implemented a fart magic mana system as part of its potty humor antics for its RPG-saga that's long been in development Hell.

South Park: The Stick of Truth has had a battle of getting out since it was announced with multiple delays over the last three years. The game was developed by Obsidian Entertainment after showing a proof-of-concept gameplay footage that captured how they cartoon looked to creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Trey and Matt stayed with the game as it's writers, developing it like a long episode of the show unlike any of the South Park game titles that have come out and have been highly criticized as cash-in titles. THQ was suppose to publish the game, but went bankrupt leaving the game in Limbo until Ubisoft took on the title. Days for release were set and passed  by Ubisoft with the game suppose to being come out late 2013. Now after a huge wait, that feels like it's been held in too long, fans and gamers get the release and it's a big one.

Big movements start with small movements. You are the new kid in town of South Park. Your parents want you to get out and make some friends in this quiet little mountain town. Soon after meeting Butters, now a paladin knight, your embroiled in a fantasy game being played by all the kids in town for the Stick of Truth, a mystical item said to carry power un-ending. It is a just a stick, but to the kids in South Park playing the fantasy game it's the most powerful object in existence.

You're in a long episode of South Park starring yourself. Butters and the always dirty-mouthed cursing Cartman start you on your adventure. Kenny, now a Princess--yeah it's weird-- is at your beckon.  Stan and Kyle are not around at the start at your adventure, but will be showing up to join your party. Cartman will let the insults fly as he teaches you how to play the game.

I choose Jew, out of the classes you can choose from. Mage, Thief and Fighter are also available. Jew, like any of the classes gives you special abilities, attributes and attacks. There's a joke coming down the line for your final upgrade as a Jew as you become a better douche bag. Think about the most famous Jew you can think of.

Yes, you might pick your class, your style and eventually  your alliance of Cartman's KKK -- not what you think-- or Kyle's Elves, but your name is Douchebag. I wasn't being a jerk in the previous paragraph that's what Cartman names you. Since you don't talk you're not against that name.

Boys rule, well at least at the start, you're a boy at the start. Later with the style items you collect throughout the game you can look like a girl to the vampire Grandpa from The Munsters. The game has many pieces of hair styles, faces features and clothes you can buy and find. Changing you costume and style can happen on the fly, so being a pirate astronaut is not out of the question. Neither is being a witch monk with a goatee. There's an endless amount of roads you character can go down to change their appearance.

Clothing can affect your powers. Different leveled outfits give the new kid special attributes like extra layers of armor or more damage with fire. You can add patches to clothing giving you and edge like getting more health or money. Weapons have strap-ons they can alter their abilities such as adding Frost, Fire and Gross abilities to hurt your enemies further.

After choosing to be a Jew or whatever you want, not trying to be racist, you'll forge your story through a huge adventure through South Park. From the sewers where Mr. Hankey resides to inside South Park Elementary to inside an alien spaceship. At the start you'll be helping Cartman the "Wizard King" reclaim the Stick of Truth from the Elves. You'll be in a little kid's fantasy adventure. The story then breaks just being about Elves and Wizards and gets more into South Park's history of things getting worse and worse, like when you think you're going to just make a small poop and then it becomes something so epic you take a picture and your friends tell you to stop sending it to them and that you ruined their wedding.

Ruining a wedding won't be as bad as the whole town being destroyed, someone you've wronged will take their revenge and on the way the US Government will get involved escalating your problems.

The main story builds with you walking around town trying to collect friends via Facebook. Your army will ask of you to collect friends to join their cause, causing you to be on the constant look out for new allies to join your alliance. You'll be sent on quest after to quest to grow your army.
A version of Facebook is your menu system to change your character's appearance, clothing and weapons and look up any info you might need. This includes getting messages from your Facebook friends and Al Gore gets really annoying after a while, better de-friend or kill him.

Killing with the Gross patch was used heavily in the fight with the G-d damn Mongolians in my play through. The highest Gross patch was added to Douchebag's Melee weapon which can be a number of them through the game starting with cheap looking cardboard swords to real weapons to a dildo. Ranged weapons also can have attributes so Fire was added to a broken beer bottle and Batdadarangs. So many weapons to attack with so little time. The G-d damn Mongolians  suffered for this from not only vomiting uncontrollably they were on also fire. They burned and threw up during our fight. There's just something about seeing every enemy in this game throw up that made Gross such a great addition to the roster of Frost and Fire you've seen in so many other titles. Adding to weapons are your Mana Magic Farts.

Farts can be performed to add more damage on attacks, be used on their own to attack or be used during game play to solve puzzles. Douchebag could launch himself in the air with his fart and bring down his weapon to do more damage to the G-d damn Mongolians. He could fart and the fire his weapon at the G-d damn Mongolians causing a more powerful attack. Douchebag could just let it rip on the G-d damn Mongolians and their stupid horses too. Not to toot-toot on the G-d damn Mongolians you'll use different farts to break away certain walls or get past certain obstacles. There's three more farts to learn other than the Dragon Shout!

Butters was on my team at the time as my buddy with the G-d damn Mongolians. Butters is also controlled by you. As are the other buddies you get in the game, each with their own special abilities and attacks. Butters more powerful attack is becoming Lord Chaos and choosing from an array of powers from his spin wheel of devastating attacks you can utterly F-UP enemies. with Cartman has his V-Chip back in him from the movie for some special electric attacks after powering up from cursing. I heard 4chan in their once.

On top of buddies and Farts you have the abilities you get from the class you chose. Being a Jew, Douchebag had a bloody bris attack the "Circum-Scythe". "Whirling Doom" let's you dabble spinning on a dreidel and if you level the ability  up all the way you'll get Moses, which is what I was hoping for. "Plagues of Egypt" might have been the most malicious of attacks as the bible comes to life and for blood. Choose up to four different plagues to incapacitate and annihilate your opponents if you level it up all the way.

The G-d damn Mongolians and other enemies do get their turn, you defend by correctly timing your blocks to make sure their attacks don't do that much damage.

After killing the G-d damn Mongolians there's many more enemies to brutally gross out and make them sh*t their pants. Literally, they'll sh*t their pants. Your buddy Jimmy can drop a B-Note and a flow from their pants erupts. Enemies alter to the story, so be up to fighting the cliché of zombie Nazis, which the game points out itself. Anything in this game can become a Nazi zombie, including cows and cats so be prepared. Be prepared in that their immune to Gross attacks their Nazi zombies they're already gross. Theirs aliens, animals and fetuses to fight too.

Gross-out humor works hand in... uh in there, with background and level design. Nothing is too obscene for the South Park team. Transverse the colon of Mr. Slave, oh you're up there. You're up there and your laughing at what you find inside Mr. Slave's butt. White goo must be cut down as it's blocks your path. Strange objects and diseases must be fought. Mr. Slave is way too ticklish from the inside, Jesus Christ!

Jesus is in the game as is Santa, couldn't find Satan though. Jesus is a summon along with Mr. Slave, Mr. Hankey and the City Wok owner, you do help him get rid of those G-d damn Mongolians. They can help you in a pinch with very powerful attacks, only once a day in the game and not in boss fights. Seeing Jesus save the day or Mr. Slave shove someone somewhere are sights seldom but when beheld become legend.

How about seeing your parents doing it? They game manages to get you underneath your parents doing the nasty and you have to dodge some balls not thrown by the Underpants gnomes that got you in the mess. Little tweaks like hearing your parents doing it through the walls of your house as your going after the gnomes cement the game with well- thought out ideas. Taking the time to do that shows a genuine want from the developers and writers to make you laugh and gross you out.

On an alien spaceship where an anal probe will be inserted into you, unlocking more places for you to go, Mephesto, South Park's mad scientist,  has left behind messages. This nod to BioShock and other titles of games past is just part of the bigger picture making fun of games. What Mephesto says in those message needed to be said. Seeing what happened to Stan's Dad Randy did not.

Just wait until you get to Canada, that joke alone sold me as how much the writers and developers thought aboot, I mean about the game. Get the 5x7's possibly, me I get the 8x10's; a joke you'll get later when you play it.

Mini-games don't stop the potty humor as you will be performing abortions. What other game has you playing t an abortion? None I can think of, maybe something on Newgrounds. Don't worry, they aren't on women. Think about the voice on the second abortion you perform; another call back to a popular gaming series.

Extra quests are all over the South Park: you can look for lost kindergarteners, controversially get rid of the homeless to clean up the town's image for the Mayor. Call backs to previous episodes are in every poorly animated in the style of the show step of the game from collecting Chinpokomon to looking into the closets of the boys and seeing memorabilia from past episodes. Hell, you collect memorabilia every step of the way and it's cheap. Songs throughout the series can be heard everywhere in town.

My time as Douchebag did leave me with some want. The game had to be put on hardcore or it would be too easy. Even on hardcore the game never felt like I would lose. There were some cut-scene errors where my Douchebag would flicker or not be in them a few times. It could have been my computer settings at the time.

South Park: The Stick of Truth is a whole new episode devoted to you with the boys at your side or against you. For long time fans of the show it is the best South Park game ever made and the look of the game is almost too close to how the show is animated. Hundreds of references to past episodes  and jokes on the film and game industry. Along with potty humor and abandonment for anything being too dirty. You fart on people, there's a whole part of the game devoted to farting.

Publisher provided Steam Code for review purposes. Game's main story played and beaten on Steam.