South Park: The Stick of Truth Preview: Come On Down To South Park

I’ve had my eye on South Park: The Stick of Truth for quite some time now.  Early publisher woes caused many to wonder if the game would die on the vine, but luckily Ubisoft stepped in to rescue the impressive looking title.  Although details have been scarce, E3 gave us a few new details about the sleepy mountain town.

The first thing you will notice is the incredible art style.  When shown side-buy-side, it is uncanny how much the game and the actual show resemble each other.  We’ve had faithful cartoon-to-game adaptations before, but nothing that reaches this level of visual parity.  Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are taking a larger role in this game than they have in the past, and it shows in everything from the faithful voice work and spot-on writing.  Watching Cartman shoot flames out of his butt on video, you would be hard-pressed to tell whether or not you were watching gameplay footage or an episode of the show.

The "fart-fire" particle effects are amazing.  You can almost smell the burnt buttfuzz.

The “fart-fire” particle effects are amazing. You can almost smell the burnt buttfuzz.

Combat looks to be well-polished, and I was reminded heavily of the SNES classic Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.  Timed button presses can enhance your attack on offense, or lead to a strategic block on defense.  His should add some much-needed interactivity to the otherwise standard looking RPG combat.  Not that that is a bad thing.  Obsidian has a long history with RPGs, and it’s nice to see that just because the source material is outrageous, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the time-honored RPG mechanics we have come to know and love.  However, this is still South Park.  Why shoot magical flameswhen a can of hairspray and a lighter can achieve basically the same thing?

The heavy violence took me a bit by surprise, but it never feels forced and fits right into the South Park universe.  These kids beat up on each other pretty bad, usuing everything from improvised shivs to anal probes.  Playing as “the New Kid”, players will learn firsthand just how sadistic the kids of South Park elementary are.  Trying to fit in is no easy task for any new kid.  Trying to find your place while Cartman is constantly harassing you is another story entirely.

One element that pleasantly surprised me was the emphasis on environmental puzzle solving.  One scenario has multiple kids blocking your way through the school.  No problem; Randy Marsh has taught you the secret of the Nagasaki fart (which you can see in the trailer below).  Farting clears the path no problem, until a kid set-up with a fan bars your path.  The player has a number of options here:  they can walk around trying to figure out another solution, trigger the sprinklers to short out the fan or teleport up to the ducts to bypass the situation altogether.

Screw you guys, I'm going home.

Screw you guys, I’m going home.

During our time with The Stick of Truth, we saw more cameos than you could shake a Manbearpig at:  Mr. Slave, the aliens, Jesus, Satan, hippies, the Underpants Gnomes, the Woodland Critters, Mr. Hanky and the Crab People all made appearences at some point.  A long as Towlie gets included at some point, I’ll be happy.

If all of these elements can come together, we may be in for a real treat.  The humor seems to live up to the South Park name, they have nailed the aesthetics, and they have the full support of South Park Studios.  Obsidian has all the tools they need to pull this game off, so now we just have to wait and see if they can do it.  In the mean time, here is the hilarious trailer to whet your appetite.

Are you excited about South Park: The Stick of Truth?  Leave us a comment with your thoughts.