Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review: South Park: The Stick of Truth. by Jon Cain


There are very few constants in life. We know that change is ever moving, and death is everyone's final chapter. However, a lesser constant is at work even as I write this. What is it I speak of, you may wonder? It is that someone, somewhere, is getting offend by something. It doesn't matter the topic or its nature. There will always be one person it pisses off. Take, for example, the television show South Park. They have made their living, and their livelihood off of offense. The creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, make no bones about offending people. To them, whole world is full of jokes and nothing is off limits. Much to the dismay of South Parks critics, this has lead to major success. The show, because of it's vast success, has branched out from television to many other mediums, including video games.

Why, just this Tuesday, the 4th of March, they released The Stick of Truth. This is the South Park Boy's attempt to break into the RPG demographic. Yes, you read right, it is an RPG. I know it sounds like this is doomed to failure. However, with names like Obsidian and Ubisoft, it could be a great game. Let me put all the naysayers and critics to rest. The Stick of Truth is a masterpiece of a game. Not only does it belong amongst the RPG titles that have came before it, The Stick of Truth belongs in the upper echelon of these games. It belongs there with the likes of Final Fantasy VII, The Legend of Zelda and Chrono Trigger. I know, it sounds like blasphemy, but it is true. The show that is poorly animated, poorly voiced and always offensive made an almost perfect RPG experience. I was just as shocked as some of you are. How could this be, some of you may wonder? Nothing about the source material screams great RPG. To base an RPG in a quiet mountain town where anything and everything can and usually does happen - what about that says gold mine for game developers?


Just because the potential is there, doesn't mean an automatic pass to RPG greatness. What about The Stick of Truth makes it great? Well, first and foremost is the story. The idea of two factions of children fighting over a stick sounds stupid. However, due to a great storytelling it becomes, the noble humans fighting against the evil elves in the realm of Zaron over the all powerful Stick of Truth. Now that sounds a whole hell of a lot better. With enough twists and turns, betrayal, Aliens and Al Gore to make your head spin, the story alone is wildly entertaining and worth a play through alone just to see its conclusion. Coupled with the the very active and fun turn based combat style it continue its march towards greatness. For me, one of the most annoying parts of any RPG is the side quests that feel more like busy work then fun. In the Stick Of Truth the side quests, save one or two, are very enjoyable. Should you be one one of the straight through players who hate side quests, don't fret, the main story path is still one hundred percent playable and clocks in at a solid 15 hours worth of play. Combine this with the four unique playable character classes and a wealth of customization, to looks and outfits and you have the ultimate South Park RPG experience.

Now, we all know that nothing is ever perfect. The Stick of Truth suffers from some faults. One being map size. I mean they really emphasize that this game takes place in a tiny town, although trust me when I say there is still a lot to do. Another fault I came across is poor direction. At times ,the quest notes tend to be no help to you on completing your quest. The biggest fault I have heard people talk about is its OMG factor. They talk about how it pushes the socially permissible line, that the jokes go too far. In some cases I can see that. However for the most part I find those complaints unwarranted. People are aware of the show and its reputation for pushing the envelope. Why should a video game made by the same people be ay less provocative? The ESRB did rate it as mature for a reason. Nothing about this game claims to be family friendly. People who are shocked by what they see or hear only have themselves to blame. A simple check of the source material could have saved them a bit of a head ache.


All and all, I found my time in the realm of Zaron enjoyable. So enjoyable in fact I have already begin playing a second play through with a different class. That is a testament to the game's enjoyable nature - I am normally a one and done kind of guy when it comes to video games. However, with the Stick of Truth I want to max out all four classes just to see. I am waiting for what ever DLC comes down the pipe for it with baited breath. So, in closing, South Park The Stick of Truth is an amazing gaming experience. Shocking, both in content, as well as execution. Even if you're not a fan of the show, you will love the homage it pays to the RPG genre. It is a solid RPG with a very polished combat system. The amount of content crammed into this map is amazing and finding it all is equally as amazing. From beginning to end the romp through the world of South Park is almost a perfect mix of humor and substance. I will, from this point on, enjoy going down to South Park any chance I get.

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