If you're a long time south park fan then there's no doubt you've been waiting for a game that does the popular long running show justice, and in South Park: The Stick of Truth, that game has finally arrived.
This has to be one of the best uses of the licence ever in video gaming and there's no doubt that is because of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's direct involvement in the making of it.
You are the new kid in South Park and you find yourself suffering from one of those time honored game cliches... amnesia. Your family have moved you to this small little town, which you have no idea why and before you know it you find yourself making new friends and fighting alongside the other children of south park for control of the most powerful item in the world... the Stick of Truth.
One of the stand-out aspects of South Park: The Stick of Truth is the visuals. The look of the TV show has been totally reconstructed in the game, to the point where it feels like you're playing an interactive episode. Or even more accurately, an entire season of the cartoon.
That sense of immersion and the seamlessness between gameplay and cut-scene made me go from mouse and keyboard control to plugging in my controller just so the pointer wouldn't get in the way.
It might not bring anything new to the table as far as RPG games go, but what it has done is taken basic aspects of role playing games and polished them to the point where it's hard to find any fault with them. From the turn based combat, to using the environments around you to your advantage, and not to mention using the summons attack from some of the South Park favourites, just about every aspect of the gameplay in South Park: The Stick of Truth is fun, entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny.
With a basic upgrade and perks system, this could be seen as part of the game that is seriously lacking compared to recent RPG's. But while some may see this as a negative, I see this as a huge positive. Simply put, the less time in the menus, the more time spent enjoying the great narrative, fun gameplay and non-stop laughs. Although the social media aspect of the menu did make me wish I could like some of those comments left by the other people of South Park.
While it might take as long to finish as other long-distance marathon games in the same genre at no point did I feel ripped off by its 12-15 hours of game length. In fact when I had an inkling I was nearing the end of this epic journey for control of The Stick of Truth, I only had a feeling of 'not wanting it to end'. And that feeling came about because every part of this game fit together so perfectly and didn't even come close to overstaying its welcome.
The difficulty of South Park: The Stick of Truth, while not overwhelming, can pose a challenge at some points in the game. On a few occasions, I had to come back with an upgraded character and a well thought-out loadout to defeat my opponent, but at no point did the game feel frustrating. While at other times your character almost feels too powerful, so it might pay to make the game as challenging as possibly and crank that difficulty level up to hardcore.
From exploring the town and finding references from the TV show, to interacting with the citizens of South Park to hear their often-times funny reactions, the game never tries to be more than what it is, that being an interactive playground for Matt and Trey's comedic writing. And let's face it, if they didn't get that right this game could've ended up being a huge disappointment for the fans just like many other South Park games.
Since South Park's humble beginnings in 'Cartman Gets an Anal Probe' and with the recent episodes touching on the console wars between Microsoft and Sony it has always been a source of controversy. And with the creators being such an integral part of the of this game, there is no doubt this could be one of the most cringe-worthy, in your face and offensive games you're likely to play for some time.
Not only does this stay constantly close to being on the line of being in good taste, it sometimes not only steps over that line, it takes that line and does unspeakable acts to it.
South Park: The Stick of Truth, had me smiling from beginning to end and constantly laughing at my monitor. And while its biggest strength is also its biggest weakness, that being a game aimed at South Park fans, there is no doubt of the amount of effort that has gone into this game to make it one of the funniest, if not the funniest gaming experiences I've ever had.
I'm already looking forward to subsequent playthroughs and giving it a space next to my South Park DVD collection.
I'm giving South Park: The Stick of Truth a 9 out of 10.