South Park: The Stick Of Truth (Obsidian, 2014)

After a good number of games based on the South Park franchise – some good and some pretty terrible – finally the quintessential tie-in has arrived. The reason? We finally feel like we’re living in the middle of an episode.

The plot line revolves around alien anal probing, the aborted foetus of a Kardashian, an ooze that turns people into zombie nazis, Cartman being an asshole and underpants gnomes. Fairly standard stuff for an RPG really. You play as the new kid in town -invariably referred to as Douchebag throughout – and join Cartman, Kenny and Butters in their quest to find and protect the Stick of Truth.

The plot-lines are full of comedy gold, which is bound to keep South Park fans happy whilst entertaining newcomers. The mechanics of battle, as RPGs go, is fairly basic. You have a choice of weapons to fit into two slots, plus a few summons and magic choices too. The enemies aren’t complex enough to worry you too much and you can usually put reducers on tougher enemies pre-battle to ensure you win. It wouldn’t trouble the complexities of, say, the Final Fantasy series.

I have to say I found certain parts really frustrating. I stupidly checked out the achievement list before I started, and this alone ruined my fun in my first play through. I had in my mind there were a number of missable tasks to complete for 100%, including collection of the Chinpokomon and making friends with all of South Park (for the hilariously-titled “More Popular Than John Lennon” achievement), which were tied together. Unfortunately, the checkpoint system used when saving means that you’re often taken back a couple of screens when you reload and I missed one collectible even though I knew I’d already collected it, but unbeknown to me it didn’t register when I reloaded. All this means I have to do a complete second play-through to finish the game. Why oh why do games do this? The worst case was Tomb Raider’s Chatterbox achievement. I’ll have to make a conscious decision to not think about achievements in future, but I guess it’s my OCD kicking in.

Another frustration will only be relevant to those playing in Europe. PEGI saw it fit to censor a handful of segments due to them being in bad taste. How you can decide that anally probing a cast member on an alien spaceship is off-limits, whilst happily allowing a battle against a Kardashian’s reanimated aborted foetus is beyond me. Sort it out!

The game has some amazing side quests, involving all your South Park favourites. Jimbo and Ned, Mr Hankey, Al Gore and Manbearpig, Crab People, Mr Slave and Randy all feature in the bonus material that will keep you entertained beyond the main plot of the game.

Small annoyances aside, I really recommend this to anyone with an interest in comical video games or indeed South Park itself. That this game almost never saw the light of day is a travesty and it’s wonderful we get to enjoy it now. It’s probably not very challenging to experienced gamers, but there’s plenty to enjoy if you want to commit some time to it. At the newly reduced price it’s a complete steal.

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