The lights are on
When we revealed South Park: The Stick of Truth over six months ago, we were unsure where the project would end up. Considering that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are known to uproot the entire plots of South Park episodes at the last moment, we didn’t know how well these tendencies would translate to game development. Coupled with layoffs at Obsidian, there was reason for concern when it came to Trey and Matt’s first legitimate entry into the medium. With the inclusion of the game in Microsoft’s press conference, we were relieved to learn that it was still very much in progress. Despite a delay that pushes the game into 2013, Trey and Matt appeared on stage to let the audience know that The Stick of Truth was certainly happening. We had the chance to see the game in action at a recent Microsoft event, and the results are reassuring for fans of the series.
Obsidian’s E3 demo began with the introduction of South Park’s “new kid.” When the child arrives in the sleepy mountain town of South Park, his parents’ first priority is clearly to christen their new living quarters. His father dismisses the player by telling him to “go find some friends,” followed by a speedy trip to the bedroom. When the new kid attempts to enter his new home, the now-naked father opens the upstairs window with a more urgent demand to “go make some friends!”.
The new kid can pick up on a hint, and leaves his new home to explore the neighborhood. South Park regulars like Cartman and Stan are battling in fantasy gear, but they don’t pay any mind to the town’s unknown face. After walking around a bit, the new kid stumbles upon the doorstep of the perpetually friendly Butters. LARPing as a Paladin, “Butters the Merciful” informs the new kid that he must visit the wizard if he hopes to join in on the fun. Unfortunately, the wizard reveals himself as the borderline-sociopathic Cartman.
Cartman introduces the new kid to his backyard, which he refers to as “The Kingdom.” Clyde peddles weapons in the armory, and the diabetic Scott Malkinson manages the stables (which consists of Cartman’s cat). Vaguely important relics like the Pool of Vision (a kiddie pool) and the Rock of Insanity (a standard rock) litter the backyard, and Cartman clearly takes this “Kingdom” seriously.
After showing him the sights, Cartman prompts the new kid for his name, which allows the player to enter whatever they wish. No matter what is entered, Cartman responds with “You entered ‘***.’ Is this correct?” (note that this is significantly less offensive than the line we heard during our cover visit). When the player chooses “No,” Cartman ignores the request and lands on *** as the new kid’s official title.
Cartman allows the player to choose his or her’s class, although the selections didn’t include the “Jew” class that we saw during our cover visit. I asked a few THQ and Obsidian reps about this change, and got the impression that the class may still find its way into the game.
*** is granted with a wooden weapon known as the Sword of Solace, and Cartman sets him or her on a quest towards the Kingdom of City Wok for a serving of Kung Pao chicken. Unfortunately, ***’s first objective is interrupted by an unexpected elf attack on Cartman’s kingdom.
Children dressed as elves are bullying Cartman’s friends and urinating in his Pool of Vision, granting *** with the perfect opportunity to prove himself. A battle breaks out, and it immediately resembles the timed encounters of Paper Mario and the Mario & Luigi series. Attacks like the swing of a baseball bat will become more powerful if a meter is stopped at the right moment, and special items like the “revive taco” can be utilized if one of your allies falls in battle.
Once the elves were taken care of, the demo shifted to an entirely new area. Vampire kids have set up shop in the cemetery, and Cartman and the new kid are ready for a fight. A boss character surrounded himself with lackies, which Cartman promptly took out with his flame-assisted fart attack. The new kid took care of stragglers with his Vibroblade sex toy weapon and “Dragon’s Breath” sparkler attack, which was followed by a summon of Mr. Slave. Once Mr. Garrison’s “pet” was selected, he jumps directly on top of a selected enemy. If you’ve seen the Paris Hilton episode of the show, you can probably guess what happens next. The player is tasked with jamming the A button to “get ‘em in there,” which means exactly what you think it does. Once the enemy is fully enveloped in his new tomb, Mr. Slave sheepishly walks out of frame. A standard RPG end-battle screen pops up, granting the player with more XP, gold, and the progression from “***” to “Butthole.”
South Park: The Stick of Truth’s gameplay may not revolutionize the RPG genre, but it sure as hell looks funny based on what we’ve seen. With Trey Parker and Matt Stone putting their full comedic weight behind the project, we expect the final product to be nothing short of hilarious. We look forward to Trey and Matt’s first genuine foray into the gaming industry when South Park: The Stick of Truth launches in early 2013.
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