I am a huge South Park fan. We’ll start with that. Ergo, my view of the game may be a bit biased, so take what you will read in the following paragraphs with a grain of salt and a few Cheesy Poofs.
Now with that out of the way, let’s talk about the conception of this game. Back in 2009, when change was all that everyone could talk about, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the series decided to make a show themed RPG in the same visual style. They contacted Obsidian, the masters behind the Fallout 3 expansion, New Vegas and started working on it. In 2011, THQ joined the mix, but the three-way didn’t last long. In 2012 the Obsidian team suffered from cuts and THQ went bankrupt. So stepped in Ubisoft, who in March of 2014 finally released the long awaited game. And the result?
Going Down to South Park…
The game starts off with an epic narration backed up by great visual effects in which Cartman (who else?), the Wizard King, explains current events in the world that the kids project upon the town. Apparently humanity is threatened by a vast army of dark Jewish elves hell-bent on the extermination of all normal humans and obtaining the one relic to rule them all, which can control the very fabric of reality: the Stick of Truth (I know, shocker, right?). It ends with the cliche hope that from the common people a champion will arise to lead the armies to victory and a new golden age in which women dance and nectar spews from every pipe.
Of course that person is you, the new kid, an apparent mute just moved into town from some far-off place where you probably had some traumatic events happen to you, which you don’t remember. Yes, they’ve combined the Gordon Freeman vocal capabilities with the cliche RPG trope of the amnesic hero. But don’t fret, this is not an oversight or a lazy way to avoid recording another few hours’ worth of dialogue (well, maybe it was), it’s a very not subtle commentary on this trope, as evidenced by the countless times the characters acknowledge his inability or unwillingness to engage in normal conversation. At this stage I should point out the character creation screen, in which the only thing that caught my attention was the skin option labeled “Jersey tan”. This will come into discussion when we talk about classes. Speaking of which…
After either deciding to leave the house or getting kicked out of the house (the Dad really wants you to make friends), you encounter a bullied Butters and immediately proceed to not kick his ass like any normal kid would, but rather saving him and being led to Cartman’s backyard (aka the Kingdom). Here, Cartman praises the new champion of the human race as he bestows you with a name and equipment according to your chosen class (by the way, whatever name you put in, your name will be Douchebag, because… Cartman).
At this point, you have a difficult decision to make. Do you quit the game because you’re a whiny little bitch, or do you press onward and choose your class? There are 4 in total, each one of them with their own abilities. The Fighter is, of course, the straight-up brawler class of the game, with such amazing attacks as beating the shit out of people with a bat, bull rush to the stomach (American football style), horn of irritation, an earth shattering jump and Roshambo. The Thief is, naturally, the representation of that one kid who just sits in a corner which nobody pays attention to. Until of course he stabs and robs you. Because that’s the kind of prick he is. Featuring dramatic attacks like backstabbing, mugging, throwing knives and shit bombs and of course destroying your armor and weapons (OK, that is extremely useful in boss fights). Next comes the Mage, who can unleash the pyromaniac inside anyone, with 2 fire based attacks, a sleeping spell, thunder and frost. Lastly we get to the Jew. What, were you expecting Druid or Necromancer? He is well equipped with circumcision strike (which apparently can be performed on girls too in this game – go figure), the always popular David sling made from an old sock, some Jewish styled karate (if you can’t guess the name, don’t bother, it just means you’re well balanced), a spinning dreidel of death and the plagues of Egypt. What, too much escalation? It’s South Park, what did you expect, the Kosher spell?
So these are the classes, each ability is priceless to look at, and did I mention that if you pick both Jersey tan and the Jew class Cartman will observe that you are in no way different than Kyle’s mom? How did I miss that? Anyway, enough about class, Marx is getting pissy. It’s time to move on…
People Spouting Howdy Neighbor
Before we get into the nitty gritty of the combat system, one must first consider his surroundings. Because if one does not, one might step into a pile of crap or fall into the evil mirror verse or something. And one might be boned at that time. South Park is recreated perfectly, and considering the level of participation Matt and Trey had in this game’s creation, this fact is mundane and not really worth praising. Although as a SP fan, it’s been nice to find out the official map of the town (which, as they will add content in the show, will definitely change). Most of the expected places are there: downtown, the houses, the church, Guns’n Ammo, Stark’s Pond, the mall (which unfortunately we don’t get to explore), the school, Canada, all of that good stuff. Except for Canada. Because who gives a s**t?
The town is filled with things to do, from exploring all of the nooks and crannies (literally, due to a shrinking spell you acquire at one point) and even rooftops and places you could never get to normally (does the word alien anal probe tele make you cringe? Then you’ll never reach 100%), to randomly destroying parking meters and world objects to collect money and useless items, to making friends either by talking to people or completing quests for them (self-serving bastards) to just poking around to see what loot you can find in order to enrich your South Park experience. And your pockets.
A huge part of exploring pertains to finding collectables, an activity which will add another few hours to the game. There are tens of Chimpokomon, a lot of armor sets and weapons and over 120 friends available. And that doesn’t include all of the junk you can collect, each having its own little description, most being reminiscent of certain episodes. Oh, and all the cosmetic items, such as wigs and trinkets you can wear. And let’s not forget the dyes, for that personalized look. Aaand the weapon and armor upgrades. So there’s a high degree of customization and a lot of content to explore, which if you are a show fan, would surely send you through the roof. And as for the main storyline… It’s full of twists and turns, betrayals and just awesome and funny moments you would expect from South Park. And speaking of the main storyline…
The Beating the Crap Out of People Section
At its core, SP:SoT is an open world turn-based RPG where the reaction time of the player affects the success rate of any attack. And that’s where this game differs from the old-school turn-based RPGs. Combat starts when either your character hits the enemy or vice versa, the first attack belonging to the one who struck first. You have a multitude of options at this point. You can unleash a melee attack with your primary weapon, each left-click prompting a hit (for maximum damage, the click must be when the weapon flashes), bring out the old ranged weapon (same reaction clicking rule applies) or use your special skills. Firstly, you can use your class abilities, all of which consume precious PP (Power Points). Maximum effectiveness is achieved by different methods, depending on the attack (flash-click, push buttons when they show up, mash a set of buttons, etc. etc.). Then you have your Fart-Fu, 4 spells (unlockable through the game) which consume Mana. These can also be used in the open world exploration stage, to unlock paths, create fireballs when you have a flame nearby, create diversions or even gross out your friends (there actually is an achievement in which you have to fart on each of your buddies).
Lastly, you can consume items to regain health (junk food), PP (drinks) and mana (chipotle, beans etc.), but also to give you boosts (attack twice in one turn, gain strength, etc.). Also, there are a number of conditions which can be inflicted upon enemies or vice-versa by upgrading your weapon or skill or by executing certain attacks well. Most of them bypass the enemies’ armor (which you can wither down with power attacks and decreases your damage), thus sometimes stacking them becoming the only way to defeat them. We have Grossed Out, Frozen, Stunned, Pissed Off, On Fire, Bleeding. Each of them decreases either the victim’s stats or health. As for defense, you can add armor or shields and parry attacks (yet again, by clicking when you see the flash). If parried correctly, you can counterattack for limited damage.
Now that we’ve discussed what your character can do, let’s turn to the one who always stands by you. No, not Jesus (although you can make him stand beside you, more on that later), but your buddies. In your travels through the exotic lands of South Park you will have an almost constant companion of your choosing, whose talents will aid you both in the world and in combat. All buddies have a free skill and some abilities which consume PP. Butters the Paladin, who has the power to smash faces with his Thorian hammer, invoke lightning bolts and his alter-ego Professor Chaos, this resulting in his ultimate attack. He also has the power to pat you on the back, healing you. Princess Kenny fabulously wields heart arrows, has the power of seduction by showing off his non-existent boy boobs, can gross out boys with his super-kiss and can summon an army of rats and an unicorn (if you fail these attacks, it will hurt both the enemies and Kenny, killing him instantly). Next comes Jimmy the bard, with the most useless skill set you will ever see. He can, get this, grant you access to places meant for the handicapped, buff you up slightly and put your enemies to sleep. Best avoid him as a buddy (not because he’s impaired, but because his skills are awful). Stan, the fearsome warrior, wields a two-handed greatsword, can summon his dog to either pee on enemies standing next to electricity to give them a shock or bite them (laser guided, of course), and can perform various attacks with the sword (AOE, a flurry of hits which somehow sets the enemy on fire etc.).
Lastly, we have the leaders of the two rival factions. Kyle the druid-jew, armed with his dad’s golf club, can rally the troops, perform the Kick the Baby Pirate attack, summon winds and make it rain arrows, on the whole a useful buddy, but nothing compared to the wizard king. Cartman is by far the best. He can gross out people with a delectable missile, can shoot fireballs out of his ass and fire a barrage of lightning from the malfunctioning V-Chip, installed during the South Park movie (continuity error, they removed it I think after those events). Take my word, if you’re playing a warrior, your jumping attack + ass fireball=instant kill.
Apart from your buddies’ and your skills, you can also call upon a few friends for an instant win when the fight is too tedious. Once per day, you can call on the services of Mr. Hankey and his tsunami of crap, Lu Kim (the City Wok guy) who perform his Chinese war dance, a machine-gun packing Jesus and Mr. Slave, for whom the phrase “Shove it up your ass” is always taken literally. ALWAYS.
The last thing I’m going to discuss in this section is the object of your discomfort, the enemies. There are a few types: the tank, with shield and one-handed weapon, 2-handed weapon guy, healer, ranged. These are the types of enemies you will encounter during the first day of exploring the town. Afterwards, only zombies. Oh, excuse me, Nazi zombies. As for the rest of the game, you get to fight a wide selection of characters, all with different skills and weaknesses. For example, at one point you end up on an alien vessel and where you get special armor with stats which give you bonuses when fighting aliens, including gaining their type of shields. A list of all the enemies will take up too much space, so I will restrict myself to the most interesting. In no particular order at all, we have Nazi Zombie Cows, Nazi Zombie people, Nazi zombie fetuses, Nazi zombie rats, giant bacteria, wolves, Dire snakes, Dire wolves, Dore bears, Dire Canadians, Sixth Graders, Underpants Gnomes (as a side note, just to give you a taste of the game’s true essence, this fight takes place in your parent’s bedroom while they engage in things no kid would want to witness) and many, many more.
The enemies described above are rather simple to overcome, if you pay attention to your health and employ basic tactics. As for the boss battles, they are slightly more challenging, some requiring you to die a few times in order to come up with a viable strategy. You get to fight Mongorians, Al Gore, an Underpants Gnome Shaman and many, many more. OK, maybe not many, but a few more. And during these battles, your summons won’t work for obvious reasons.
Don’t Fart On A Guy’s Balls
The first rule and the last rule. The gentleman’s code. I have chosen to end the review on this note just to give you a taste of the kind of humor you will find in this game. And now that you’ve got a taste, let’s give you a whole scoop. In this game you will encounter bestiality, abortion, fetuses, naked ladies, naked men (during the final battle a naked man is always clearly visible), anal probing, Mr. Slave’s intestines, rats, crap, Mongorian food, Al Gore’s boring Oscar winning Power Point presentation (NOT a documentary, and filled with proven inaccuracies) and more. Quests are numerous and range from finding items to eliminating the town’s homeless, thus increasing your friend count.
If what you have read above didn’t put you off from the game but if you don’t enjoy RPGs, wait for a discount. If you like RPGs, buy it if you find the mechanics interesting, however be prepared to be let down by the difficulty. Finally, if you are a South Park fan or connoisseur (like me), then what are you waiting for? There are tons of in-jokes, references to most of their episodes, your favorite characters and a plot that could have easily become the second South Park movie. This is the South Park game that the world’s been waiting for, and let’s hope they won’t stop here and keep improving the formula.