Four potty-mouthed kids from a small Coloradan town called South Park will once again be making the pilgrimage back to the land of gaming, after a fourteen-year hiatus since the last full retail release.
Those afraid that South Park’s politically incorrect humour had any chance of being toned down for its latest videogame outing will be pleased to know it looks every bit as offensive as you’d hope it would. So, let's take a look at South Park: The Stick of Truth…
It takes less than a week for the Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s teams to piece together a bitingly satirical episode of South Park, cranking them out at a rate of knots to ensure every episode is as current as can be. South Park: The Stick of Truth is forced to take an entirely different tack; a game that has been on a rocky development road that saw it miss its original release date by almost a year.
Previous South Park games oddly decided to go down the 3D polygonal model room, but The Stick of Truth subverts gamer expectation by instead looking exactly like the TV show. EXACTLY like the TV show. It’s a glorious representation of South Park’s budget aesthetics and laissez-faire attitude to appearances, rendered like everybody’s favourite cartoon come to life. Contrary to previous games in the franchise, South Park: The Stick of Truth is written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone themselves, ensuring this should have the sort of top-notch hilarious script Duke Nukem Forever could only dream of.
For those of you GDers who aren’t familiar with South Park, it’s worth bearing in mind that this is set to be a game designed to be controversial. Just today word reached us that several scenes from the game are to be banned in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Probably expected when they included a mini-game in which a doctor is performing an abortion on the player. Oops, this is probably NSFW!
Booting the game up for the first time tells you all you need to know about what to expect from South Park: The Stick of Truth, as the player is offered a choice of four classes for their adventure. Your standard Fighter, Mage, Thief and erm... Jew.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is a classic turn-based RPG that has the player controlling the new kid in school, riding into town amid a titanic fantasy battle. Coming from the fertile mind of Cartman’s imagination no doubt, a thousand year has been waged over The Stick of Truth. Humans and elves have been locked in a neverending battle for an enlarged twig, until word of a new kid at school looks to turn the tides of war. Cartman immediately takes you under his wing, tasking you with protecting the Stick of Truth in a fight against the Elves. Things of course get out of control and so, battling alongside Stan, Kyle, “The Grand Wizard” Cartman and Kenny, the new kid must discover the Stick of Truth and end this war once and for all. Cue underpants gnomes, hippies, ginger kids and other forces of evil. Win, and you’re a hero. Fail, and you’re a loser.
In The Stick of Truth’s turn-based battles you’ll be juggling you and your parties various attacks, blocks and items, all the while keeping a beady eye on your HP and Power Points (affectionately dubbed pee-pee). If you’ve played any classic JRPG you should be in familiar territory here. This time though, rather than Materia and Summons it’s more explosive diarrhea and anal probes. In a manner similar to Paper Mario, each of your attacks will have special timing mechanisms that when pressed can boost the damage or the effect. For example pressing a button on exactly the right timing when Cartman lights his fart will engulf the enemy in flaming methane, doing increased damage.
Players will have access to perks, skill trees and weapon buffs, allowing them to customise their two-person party. Most of the perks seem to be top-secret for now, except for the Protect My Balls perk, which decreases the damage a player takes when critically injured. Levelling up and character growth is conducted through a traditional levelling system. Battles provide you with experience points and loot, while levelling up will allow the player to spend points on skills in various skill trees. New members in your group are invited through Facebook, and of course you start the game with “0 friends”.
In a nod to classic RPGs the player will have a quest log with things to do, whether that be trafficking crystal meth, beating up a bunch drifters with a dead bird, or farting on Kenny dressed as a princess. It promises to be like The Witcher but with considerably more rectums.
You’ll be able to move about the town of South Park on 2D sets that ape the cartoon’s classic visual style. Players will be able to move on a 3D plane though, moving in and out of the screen in order to explore the environment. There’s no word yet on how big the world will be, but for those looking for fast travel look no further than Timmy Travel, the wheelchair-bound student who’ll whisk around South Park at your whim.
Considering its 2D graphics and fairly basic art style, South Park: The Stick of Truth is a moderately demanding game. While gamers are only going to need a couple of gigs of RAM to hit the recommended system requirements, the GPU requirements may sting a few. A minimum of an Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT is required to get the game running, alongside a dual-core 2.5 GHz processor.
For the full list of system requirements be sure to check out the South Park: The Stick of Truth game page.
South Park: The Stick of Truth will be available for PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 on March 4th in the US and March 7th in Europe.