The lights are on
We haven’t seen much from South Park: The Stick of Truth since we first revealed the game with THQ and Obsidian in a 2011 issue of Game Informer. Now the game is being published by Ubisoft, which showcased a portion of the game during a pre-E3 event in Santa Monica, California. The New Kid in town partners with Butters to battle through a LARP-embroiled South Park Elementary.
The Obsidian developer at the controls guides New Kid through the halls of the school, which are crawling with children wearing makeshift armor and carrying swords and hammers. The two-sided conflict is between the elves, led by Stan and Kyle, and the humans, led by Grand Wizard Eric Cartman. Bumping into one of these wandering make-believers is inevitable, and launches players into a separate battle screen.
Combat looks similar to your standard turn-based RPG action, but with a South Park flair. Timed button presses augment standard attacks and initiate dodges, similar to the Paper Mario series. Whacking an enemy with a hammer bloodies them and produces a sickeningly convincing sound. The Stick of Truth adds creativity with its “magic spells,” which involve combining household items to deadly results. New Kid casts a fireball with hairspray and a lighter, and electrocutes a hapless child with a bucket of water and a car battery. These visceral special abilities help preserve the show’s cringe-inducing violence while opening up fantastical battle options.
Creativity helps in combat, but it’s also necessary for navigating the school’s dangerous hallways. Butters and New Kid encounter an enemy kid standing on a huge rubbish blockade. Normally, New Kid could use his powerful fart ability to knock him from the hill, but a strategically placed fan makes this difficult. Players have a few options in this dilemma. They can either trigger a sprinkler above the fan to short it out, or use an anal probe satellite to teleport into the vents above. Once within, Butters and New Kid harness the power of the Underpants Gnomes to shrink themselves and navigate the narrow ventilation shaft. These multi-path situations look like entertaining breaks from the otherwise straightforward combat.
Later on, Butters and New Kid encounter Stan Marshwalker in a boss battle. His loyal hound, Sparky, joins him. The dog uses his Call of the Wild ability, which consists of barking at the player and peeing on them. New Kid counters with a fart, which gives Stan a “grossed out” status effect, causing him to puke intermittently. The Obsidian developer eventually wins the battle and earns Stan’s Blade of the Ranger. Players use a Facebook-like app on an in-game phone to equip weapons, accept quests, and manage party members.
The presentation concludes with a standoff between Kyle and Cartman. New Kid must choose a side, and the dev at the controls chooses to fight Cartman. New Kid’s opening strike is to throw a piece of poop at Cartman (which was acquired earlier after defecating in a urinal). The fight concludes with a spectacular fart duel between the two, which plays out like two Dragon Ball Z characters blasting each other.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is bound to impress fans. If you saw it on a TV without noticing a controller, it’d be hard to tell it was a game. The gameplay, cutscenes, and voice acting combine to deliver a game that’s impeccably similar to its TV counterpart. The loyalty to its source material, solid turn-based combat, and exploration elements should entertain even casual fans of the show. The Stick of Truth hits 360, PS3, and PC later this year.
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