This review was written using a review copy of the game.
Last gen consoles may be sitting on the shelves now that the new generation of gaming machines has hit peoples homes, however the older consoles haven’t been left in the dust as the recent release of South Park: The Stick of Truth will surely beam some life back into those dusty pieces of machinery. Set in the world of South Park, the familiar young faces of the town have decided to start their own fantasy world; kick, fart on and beat the life out of other local kids, adults and more as the battle between groups wages on and the Stick of Truth forever exchanges hands. Those with a nervous disposition or who are easily offended should walk away right now.
Cartman and the rest of the gang have started up their own little fantasy world using objects in the environment and each other, the game uses RPG elements with battles ensuing as you move around the town and complete quests. At the beginning of the game you must choose and class and name for yourself, with this being a South Park game you should expect some outrageous twists such as the Jew class and the renaming of your character to Douchebag, or Sir if you’d like. Once settled into the new clan, you are introduced to your new fighting skills and the game’s basic mechanics, for the most part the controls are easy to grasp with an action wheel allowing you to choose what battle tactics and attacks to use. Once an attack is selected, each button on the controller corresponds to which type of attack you wish to carry out; light, heavy and so on. As you progress further into the game you unlock new attack types and a various amount of new fighting techniques, all of which can be upgraded using points which you gain when leveling up.
You must use your available attacks wisely, as some use PP (Power Points) or Mana (which can be restored using items you pick up) and you may find yourself in the heat of the battle without that powerful attack that you need to finish that pesky Elf off or the Ginger Hall Monitor! You also have the ability to use an item such as a healing snack or potion once per turn should you need to, you can also attack an enemy in the same turn, but don’t waste all those cookies and Cheesey Poofs in one go! As you fight you do have the option the block, causing less damage from enemies and also allowing you to sometimes fight back with an attack of your own should you deflect attacks successfully and perfectly. A small circular shield appears around your character’s feet showing you when the perfect time to deflect is, do so and you’ll be kicking ass in no time! I did find that sometimes these blocking cues can be hard to miss, whether that’s due to especially irregular patterns or because of the level environment, i.e. debris near your feet in some small cases.
If you’re a huge fan of South Park then you will be happy with the world that has been created here, nothing has been left out and it does feel as though you’re taking part of the show. From character voices, the script, general movements, the environments and those naughty little extras which you’ll find hidden away. The great thing about The Stick of Truth is that you always want more, luckily there are quite a handful of main quests along with some side missions, though after you’ve finished the game you still might find yourself begging for more!
For the first hour of the game I found myself dropping by the neighbors houses and viewing the local scenery, it truly is astonishing how much works has been put into this title. Anything with golden handles or a twinkle (for example ladder latches) can be interacted with, finding these new spots can sometimes result in finding some epic loot which you can keep to use or sell on for some extra cents in your pocket. This brings me to the buy and sell part of the game. As you travel around the town and defeat foes you will pick up loot, it’s inevitable. This loot can be used on your character should it be an equipable item, or it can be sold on. Generally, I found that I didn’t have to buy much in the potions or healing section, enemies would often drop their supplies ready for me to pick up. You will however find that you will spend most of your ‘hard earned’ dollars on new weapons and clothing, though again enemies will drop particular weapons and such for you to use briefly.
Occasionally the frame rates dropped and gameplay became sluggish, that tended to happen when entering a new zone. One huge disappointment for me were the loading screens, the game seemed to be ruled by them, you will let out a sigh of relief when you manage to enter a new area of the town without the screen throwing up tips and tricks for your viewing pleasure while you eagerly wait for your quest to continue. This is far from being a major flaw, though it is disappointing and especially when many new games keep loading times to a minimum.