South Park: The Stick of Truth review: Game captures feel of show

South Park: The Stick of Truth
Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC
Obsidian...

South Park: The Stick of Truth
Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC
Obsidian Entertainment/Ubisoft
Rating: Mature

Rating

3.5 Stars3.5/5

Steve Tilley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

Video games based on TV shows are usually as enjoyable as a loose, wet fart aimed directly at your face. You can count the exceptions to this rule on one hand. A Simpsons character’s hand, even.

But once in a rare while, a game spun off from a TV show will be done right. South Park: The Stick of Truth is one such magical unicorn, with the caveat that you need to be a real fan of the series to allow the game’s attention to detail to eclipse some of its weaker foundations.

A role-playing game that takes inspiration from the 2002 South Park episode The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers and last year’s Game of Thrones-inspired episode trilogy, The Stick of Truth casts you as a new kid in town who gets caught up in a fantasy role-playing adventure spearheaded by Cartman. What starts as a quest to locate the stolen Stick of Truth ultimately leads to saving the town of South Park itself.

The game was written and overseen by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and captures the look and tone of the series perfectly. It’s hilariously and unapologetically offensive – hell, the initial character classes you choose from are Fighter, Mage, Thief and Jew, the last complete with yarmulke and prayer shawl – and includes gags about bestiality, abortion, Nazism and lots, lots more.

But what’s odd about The Stick of Truth is that for all its irreverent humour, it’s a strangely conventional role-playing game, with combat styled after the turn-based battles that have been around since the original Final Fantasy days. Once the novelty of the South Park wrapping wears off, it spends more time obeying gaming clichés than parodying them.

Which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. The Stick of Truth development studio Obsidian Entertainment did Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II and Fallout: New Vegas, so the game capably scratches the right RPG itches. But from its relatively small game world to its funny but not exactly innovative combat mechanics, it feels like more attention was paid to making this a great South Park experience than a great game.

The fan service, though, is astounding. Nearly every South Park character of note has a speaking role in the game, and it’s a nice, slow buildup: long before you team up with Stan and Kyle or venture up to Canada to fart on the Prime Minister, you’ll be hunting animals for Jimbo and Ned, clearing out the homeless for Mayor McDaniels, trying to find Jesus (literally) for Priest Maxi and so on. Like the animation, the voice work by Parker, Stone and their cohorts is flawless, and even the inconsequential junk you find scattered around the game world has some sort of South Park reference.

There is no other TV-inspired video game that better captures the look and content of its source material, and longtime fans of both South Park and classic role-playing games will be smitten with The Stick of Truth. But those who only dabble in one or the other might find that many of the references sail over their heads, or the actual RPG mechanics are a bit too familiar and simplistic.

Still, it beats playing The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct again. Even a wet face-fart would be better than that.


Videos

Photos