For seventeen years the South Park animated TV show has been lampooning and insulting literally everyone, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.
The show's trademark and sometimes puerile humour pushes the boundaries of what is considered bad taste, having with characters like Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo and appearances by Jesus Christ himself.
South Park isn't for everyone, and neither is Ubisoft's South Park: The Stick of Truth role-playing game, which is now out on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
The developers, Obsidian, have used the same paper-craft cut-out animation style as the TV show, the result being a game that looks indistinguishable from a South Park episode.
Despite appearances, at its heart The Stick of Truth is actually a surprisingly straight role-playing game, complete with a turn-based combat system that wouldn’t be out of place in a Final Fantasy game. The game uses very familiar RPG cliches retooled to fit the South Park universe. Scrap away the intentionally rubbish-looking cartoon styling and you have quite an enjoyable and well thought-out game.
Players take on the role of the new boy in South Park, with parents keen for him to go out and make friends. It's not long before he runs into one of the TV show’s regular denizens, Cartman, and his Knights of the Kupa Keep. From there player are dragged into the kids of South Park's game whereby Cartman’s knights are at war with, fellow TV regular, Kyle’s elves over the ownership of the titular “Stick of Truth”.
Upon meeting Cartman, the self-styled Wizard King, players must choose from a number character classes, including that of a Jew- complete with his own, very effective, circumcision-based special attack.
Players can upgrade weapons and armour, use potion, buffs and poisons, all with a South Park bent. The game even has its own version of a Dragonborn shout from Skyrim. As you’d imagine, unlike in The Elder Scrolls game, the magical roar isn’t delivered verbally, it’s of course delivered rectally via a well brewed fart.
Just as in the South Park TV show, the game is rather filthy and full of swearing. It’s not for kids. There are constant sexual references, including some considered too vulgar for our sensitive eyes. A few scenes have been removed from non-US versions of the game. In their place are cards with text describing exactly what was in the missing scenes. It’s a kind of funny dig at censorship.
As the story unfolds what started out as a group of kids play-acting turns into a sinister plot to cover up an alien crash and destroy South Park. It’s up to the new kid and his cohorts to save the town and take on the zombie Nazis. That’s right; you heard it, Nazi zombies.
South Park: The Stick of Truth faithfully recreates the wit and vulgar humour of the TV show. Whilst it’s been years since I followed the show, I still got most of the references and in-jokes; but I’d say that unless you are familiar with the show most of the game is going to be wasted on you. As entertaining and funny as it is, it's a game for South Park fans only.