E3 2013 Preview: South Park: The Stick of Truth is a gassy good time
Heading into E3 2013, Ubisoft's South Park: The Stick of Truth was one of my most anticipated games. As a fan of the Comedy Central series, I wanted to see how Matt and Trey's iconic show translated into an RPG-style video game. I wasn't disappointed.
The game is all about you, the new kid who just moved into the town of South Park, on a quest to become cool. Of course, fitting into elementary school in this town means anal probes, excessive use of the word "jew," and the ability to harness the power of your own farts.
Yes, farting is your character's "power," and you must wield it carefully in the war against among grade schoolers. The demo shown to me during E3 took place in the South Park elementary school, throwing us in the middle of the LARP (live action role-playing) battle between the kids over the coveted Stick of Truth. Not knowing any better, you begin the game on the side of Eric Cartman, who is leading the humans. You’re tasked with hunting down Stan, one of the elven leaders. Whether or not the story of the game will go beyond this little LARP feud -- something trailers have alluded to -- was not shown off; although, the demo ended with a twist that the Stick of Truth was stolen by another one of the kids who I will refrain from spoiling.
Gameplay was a nice mix of roaming strategy/puzzle solving and turn-based combat. While major confrontations are played out in turn-based combat -- think a sillier version of Final Fantasy -- the majority of the gameplay was figuring out ways to thin the numbers of the elves. This involved interacting with the environment in ways that would take out enemies in your way. An example shown to us included farting at loose wires holding light fixtures over the top of your enemies, severing the frayed cord and dropping it onto your foes below, zapping them.
As I mentioned, some of the more important confrontations take the form of turn-based combat. Think Final Fantasy meets South Park. You'll take turns selecting moves and abilities for your character and then they will perform those moves. Of course, since this is in the imagination of an elementary schooler, your abilities are of just that -- those of a child's mind. Fire blast involved taking a match, lighting it, and farting in the direction of the enemies. The demo ended in an epic ass-to-ass fart duel between you and Cartman, with each kid trying to overpower the other with a flaming fart blast. Prior to this duel, the player did have the choice to choose between Cartman and the humans or Kyle and the elves.
In terms of authenticity, South Park: The Stick of Truth is dead-on with the show. The animations and visuals are spot on with the show, while South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are writing, voicing, and directing the game alongside Obsidian. All of the show’s signature humor is present in the game, right on down to laying a mud monkey in the urinal. If it were not for seeing the player with the controller, you’d think you were watching an episode on Comedy Central, just completely uncensored, inappropriate, and totally awesome.