South Park has had a turbulent time of it when it comes to video games in the past with none of them really doing justice to the animated series. Ubisoft and Obsidian set out to change that by applying South Park to the genre of RPG to see if they can do the TV series justice.
You start the game as “New Kid” who doesn’t speak as most protagonists of games tend not to, behind you is a mystery as to why you moved to South Park which unravels as the story progresses. Alongside the mystery of your background, the kids of South Park are playing a large scale Lord of the Rings style role playing game where Humans lead by Grand Master Wizard Cartman and the Drow Elves are lead by Kyle. The Humans and Drow Elves are fighting over control of the Stick of Truth as whoever owns it controls the Universe. This story takes you through the entire game with some twists and turns in the story with the introduction of Aliens and Nazi Zombies.
Butters is your first contact in this mystical world of humans and elves who takes you to Cartman and signs you up to his side. Here is where you get to select your character class from four options; Fighter, Thief, Mage and Jew. Each class comes with their own abilities, strengths and weaknesses. During the inauguration, you get some basic training to teach you the controls of combat which follow the basic turn based RPG format and start with kids versions of the real life weapons like wooden swords. As the game progresses you end up obtaining access to the real lifer version of the weapons your class is the strongest with and pulling off stronger and more damaging attacks.
Magic takes the form of fart attacks which can Gross Out the enemy causing them to lose hit point and creates damage over time as they throw up each turn. You can also cause an enemy to become Pissed Off which means they won’t be able to use special attacks and will focus on your team member that pissed them off in the first place. Finally, you can combine your melee attacks with your farts to generate extra effects on the enemy or hit harder than by using a normal swing.
Your attacks and defence moves rely on timing of button presses with most being a case of pressing the one button with some more complex moves like Princess Kenny’s Unicorn Stampede requiring multiple button presses to get a PERFECT hit or deflection. Unfortunately, when you defend against an attack you still lose hit points, the only real benefit to a PERFECT deflection is the reduced damage and the fact the enemy takes some damage in return. However, the fact you take hundreds of damage even with a PERFECT deflect is annoying at times when you are in boss battles and you are doing your best to keep your team alive with health potions.
The Party grows but not in a way that makes much difference in battle, you basically unlock the other buddies (Butters, Kenny, Stan, Kyle and Cartman) and you can switch between them out of battle or use a turn in a battle to switch them out. You can only ever have one other buddy present with you at any given time while the enemies can have up to six people on their team to defeat to proceed. The game isn’t too difficult with “Ro sham bo” (Rock, Paper, Nuts *Kick in the nuts*) being extremely powerful against most enemies, combined with Butters’ Captain Chaos most battles are won without much of a challenge. It is far easier to lose a battle because of poor timing on the sometimes picky QTE button presses during a big move than being beaten by the enemy out right.
When heading into “The Kingdom to the North”, also known as Canada, the game switches from the typical South Park 2D animation into a top down 8-bit adventure game akin to Zelda or Pokemon on the GameBoy and DS platforms. This change in scenery also carries into battles where by your party is drawn as usual with the enemies being drawn in a sharp unpolished manner fitting with the environment you are in. The enemies there take the form of Dire Bears, Dire Wolves and Dire Snakes who, being the same as normal versions of the animals only Dire, can all infect you with damage over time Dire AIDS until you go back to town to get cured.
With Trey Parker and Matt Stone writing and providing their voices for the game, the authenticity of humour and characters rings true unlike any other South Park game prior to the Stick of Truth. This, combined with the animations give you the feeling you are actually watching an episode of South Park with some fan service done in the form of familiar story lines and character appearances from some episodes. All the familiar faces are there including Chef making a cameo appearance. In Europe, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game were censored during a handful of scenes but the PC version remained untouched. Ubisoft claim this was for “market reasons”. Although this censorship was added there is plenty of content in the game that is content you wouldn’t want your kids or younger family members to see or even the older members of your family as it pushes the boundaries as only South Park can.
Once the game is complete there isn’t much to keep you going, Achievement/Trophy hunters might go for a second play through to pick up those achievements and trophies you couldn’t obtain from just the one pass. This means most people will get to doing just the one run through as the jokes, although hilarious, might not be as funny the next time through. Don’t let this discourage you from playing South Park though as what it aims to do, it achieves and the parts it misses are only narrowly missed made up by the humour and story line.