Since the early ’90s, video game companies have seen the benefit of releasing video games based on popular movies and television series. The earliest movie game I can remember is Disney partnering with Nintendo and Sega to create “Pinocchio” based on the movie. These games usually have varying levels of success. DreamWorks racing games have had little success and are generally derivative of other games like Nintendo’s “Mario Kart” franchise.
Movie and television-based games take three paths, generally. One path follows the main characters around in the world of the movie or series and takes the player through the source material’s story from beginning to end. The second path takes the player into the world of the movie as a custom character who is supposed to help the main characters progress through the movie’s story. The third and final type is the fighting game option, in which there is dialogue between characters as players fight through individual storyline battles. This type is prevalent with TV series-based games.
The only reason I bring up these kinds of games is because on Tuesday of this week, Ubisoft, known most recently for “Watchdogs” and “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag,” finally released the new “South Park” game, “South Park: The Stick of Truth,” after many delays. This game is unique in that instead of using vocally-similar actors to voice the characters, the real cast of “South Park” came together to create this game.
On top of having the same vocal cast, the game also has the same animation style. The entire game plays like watching an actual episode of “South Park,” complete with raunchy jokes and slapstick comedy. A large number of “South Park” characters make cameos, including Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo. The game has other cameos, but I won’t spoil them here.
This game comes with a small disclaimer: It is strikingly similar to the show. For those who have never seen “South Park,” watch a few episodes to understand the humor before picking up this game. The crass humor is part of the charm and will draw long-time South Park fans in. It will, however, completely deter anyone who cannot tolerate the humor.
“South Park: The Stick of Truth” begins with the player creating a character to fight in the war between humans of Kupa Keep and the Drow Elves of Larnion. The story bases itself loosely around recent “South Park” episodes. The game allows for customization of skin tone, clothing, hair, facial features and glasses. It doesn’t have a gender option, but it does have plenty of stereotypical female hair styles and armor designed to look like girls’ clothing. Again, the humor is a factor, plus there is a vague reason the character is male.
Once the creation of the character is complete, you move into “South Park” as the New Kid. You eventually get an option to name yourself, but, trust me, it doesn’t even matter. As the New Kid, Cartman requests your aid in fighting against the Drow Elves, whose leader is Kyle. The player’s character never speaks and fulfills the requests of Grand Wizard Cartman and Princess Kenny. The game comes with an offensive but interesting class system where players can choose from warrior, thief, mage or Jew. The warrior is the basic fighter type; the thief is quick and can attack swiftly; the mage uses heavy damage abilities to fight but has very weak attacks; and, finally, the Jew begins with the Sling of David and is more of an offensive joke character than anything else.
The game’s running joke is that in the medieval time everyone takes their turns attacking. Yes, the battle system is turn-based. For a turn-based game, the mechanics are pretty interesting. Each turn, you can heal, then attack. You’re able to swap partners who can have a complete turn. In addition to the non-action heal and partner swap, the fighting comes complete with timed hits. The timed hits can decrease damage taken and increase damage given. This takes a lot of the boredom out of the standard turn-based game.
The game is exactly what is expected of a powerhouse like Ubisoft coming together with “South Park:” crass humor and a turn-based adventure with a unique battle system. Its mature rating and crass humor will make this game appeal to a more niche audience, but hardcore fans won’t be disappointed. The game is random and difficult but outshines all of the other games based on television series.