South Park The Stick of Truth - Xbox 360 (reviewed) / Playstation 3 / PC
Score: 7.9 / 10
The Stick of Truth stands accused of being brusque, disquieting and uncompromising. It is - quite gleefully - all of these things, yet no one could ever accuse it of cynicism.
A role playing game designed around Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s animated world, its faithfulness to the series is evident as soon as you have created your own character. From Al Gore and the ManBearPig through to Randy Marsh and his crème fraiche, seminal moments from the show’s 17 year history are scattered liberally throughout, hand chosen by Parker and Stone.
The frantic, scattergun approach to including plotlines and characters from the series is relentless and achieves that rarest of qualities in a game - genuine, laugh out loud humour. The realisation of the the game world is precise in its art style and the writing is pin sharp. Despite the well-publicised controversies surrounding the title’s censorship, you never get the feeling that concessions are being made.
The developer behind the game, Obsidian, boasts a pedigree which includes the likes of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Fallout: New Vegas. The Stick of Truth does not offer an RPG experience as deep or involving as either of those two titles, with the genre serving the source material rather than vice versa.
The turn based combat, for example, is accessible and amusing, but far too straightforward to maintain an experience of more than 12 hours. You can count one one hand the number of times you will lose a battle in the game, and even then, that is the legacy of an occasional and sudden spike in difficulty.
However, the sheer pleasure of stepping into a fully-fledged feature length episode of South Park more than compensates for some perfunctory mechanics. Whenever the gameplay feels as if it is lagging, Parker and Stone are on hand with another biting joke. These help sustain an above average RPG and make an argument for The Stick of Truth as one of gaming’s most expansive and imaginative interpretations of a license.
• See the trailer here (contains strong langauge)