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Review

South Park: The Stick of Truth Review

  • Game release: March 4, 2014
  • Reviewed: March 4, 2014
  • X360
  • PC
Robert Handlery on Google+

Respect my authoritah!

Let's get super cereal, shall we? South Park: The Stick of Truth is the closest there is to an interactive South Park film. It nails the animated television show's look, its humor, and its obsession with the human anus. If you come to The Stick of Truth for the South Park-ness of it all--for Cartman's aggressive profanity, for Butters' good intentions, for Randy Marsh's masturbation addiction--then you'll enjoy 10 or so hours of hysterical, offensive, gross buffoonery. Does the phrase "anal beads" make you giggle? Have you daydreamed of tossing poop at the people you hate? Then you know where you can shove The Stick of Truth: right into your console's disc drive.

That limited play time is a consideration, however. Of course, even if you love South Park, 10 or 11 hours of listening to Cartman call you a douchebag could prove tiring. Nevertheless, given developer Obsidian Entertainment's pedigree, you would rightfully expect a certain amount of systemic depth, or perhaps an epic-length quest loaded with narrative choices. As role-playing games go, however, The Stick of Truth is notably light on, well, everything. It's light on challenge: on medium difficulty, combat is a cakewalk, entertaining to watch but rarely engaging your mental faculties. (If you were hoping to turn your brain off and laugh at abortion jokes, you might see this as a mark in the game's favor.) It's also light on depth: if it weren't for the profanity, cartoon genitalia, and the sight of a grown man engaged in gentle coitus with a farm animal, you might have retitled The Stick of Truth as Baby's First RPG. As for choice, the game asks you to make very few narrative decisions, and the one that most obviously masquerades as a game-changing opportunity is quickly thrown away and rendered moot.

A deep role-playing experience this is not.

It is fun, however, in an "I just farted on a Nazi zombie fetus" kind of way. The overarching plot tying events together is paper-thin, putting you in the role of the new kid in town and inviting you to make friends with the potty-mouthed residents of South Park, Colorado. And Jesus. You can think of yourself as the Gordon Freeman of your social group: you're a silent protagonist upon whom the fate of the fabled Stick of Truth rests, and you become well regarded for the incredible rate at which you add buddies to Facebook. There's a mystery plot involving Taco Bell, an alien invasion, and yadda yadda yadda, but that's all beside the point: The Stick of Truth's story is a joke-delivery mechanism, leading you through many of the game's running gags by way of Kyle and company's high-fantasy hijinks.

Does the phrase "anal beads" make you giggle? Have you daydreamed of tossing poop at the people you hate?

The broad gross-out humor that makes the animated show popular is front and center, but it would be a mistake to assume that all the raunch is devoid of intelligence. When Cartman asks for your name, a button prompt greets you, inviting you to enter a name. The choice is immediately subverted, however, and Cartman refers to you simply as "douchebag," though he ultimately bestows grander titles upon you. Titles like "Sir Douchebag" and "Commander Douchebag." Elsewhere, audiologs you discover poke fun at the absurdity of...audiologs. Don't worry: the level with the audiologs also features Randy's butt with alarming frequency, so you needn't worry that South Park has gone highbrow, but like the show, The Stick of Truth hides some occasional truths within its turd talk. Still, by the time you reach the disturbing abortion minigame, you'll either already be engrossed by the inappropriateness of it all, or you'll have turned off the game in disgust in favor of something more cultured, like Jackass, or The Jerry Springer Show.

...and then I went up on the ship, and Scott Baio gave me pinkeye.

And so you hobble about the town as a customizable cardboard cutout--meaning that you fit right in among the rabble-rousing youngsters. Most of your exploration comes after you've chosen one of four character classes: fighter, mage, thief, or...Jew. Your choice determines your special abilities in the game's turn-based battles; in my case, I could fling stones at enemies using the sling of David, and use circum-scythe to inflict bleeding damage to my foes', er, groinal regions. (There's no mention of whether the skill accounts for the victim's adjusted penis size when you attack.) Don't get too hung up on your choice of class, however. While you are assigned default gear and occasionally earn new class-specific gear at specified story points, you can wear any armor and wield any weapon you find or purchase.

You can further customize your weapons with strap-ons (say, a Jew-pacabra claw for your alien ray gun that reduces your enemy's armor upon a perfect attack) and armor with patches (say, a brown badge of courage for your crown of thorns that enhances your health). Again, however, you needn't give this system much thought: just equip the highest-level gear you can, add whatever strap-ons and patches most appeal to you, and all is fine. The cash pours in quickly, and there are so many recovery items like health potions (Snacky Cakes and such) and mana potions (Hot Pockets and the like) scattered around that you run out of room for these items faster than you can use them. In fact, The Stick of Truth is so easy that you will likely forget you've even collected some of these objects. You can throw water balloons at your enemies to remove their buffs, and you can quaff some Tweek Bros Coffee to gain another turn, but the chances of needing them are practically nil. There's no reason, then, not to spend freely on wigs, glasses, and other accoutrements. After all, nothing says "professional Jew" like a blond Lolita wig, 3D glasses, and muttonchops.

Better red than dead.

The most valuable combat items aren't the most effective, but rather the most entertaining to unleash. I used every toilet I came across in The Stick of Truth, because doing so yielded feces I could fling in combat to gross out the hobos and hall monitors I was fighting. I could have used those turns for more effective attacks, perhaps, but watching bullies barf every turn was too fun of a possibility to pass up. Your choice of which buddy to invite into battle with you is similarly balanced in favor of fun over effectiveness. Only one other character can be in your party at any one time (Butters, Cartman, and Jimmy are among the choices), and while your buddies all have different skills, there's no real advantage in choosing one over another. In fact, apart from the moments the game forces a particular party member upon you, you could easily stick with a single buddy from beginning to end.

I dreamed I was standing out in a field, and there was this huge satellite dish stickin' out of my butt.

The mechanics of those battles are utterly simplistic: the two teams take turns beating each other up until the bad guys are defeated. There are some peripheral considerations like power points (aka PP, aka peepee) and mana, but there's not a lot to them. There are two major reasons to stay fully conscious during combat. Firstly, battles capture the essence of the show and the essence of each character. It's almost impossible not to adore the ever-sweet Butters when he heals you by patting you on the back and giving you a little pep talk. And I dare you to suppress your guffaws when Jimmy takes the stage, stuttering out a madrigal that rhymes "hollow" with "swallow" before dropping the mic. Secondly, almost every attack requires some kind of interaction--sometimes in the form of a well-timed button tap, sometimes in the form of a twirl of the thumbstick, and sometimes in the form of a Dance Dance Revolution-type minigame. (PC players: plug in an Xbox 360 controller. Doing so will save you the frustration of discovering the many keyboard-unfriendly ways in which this is a console game through and through.) Battles might be easy, but at least they keep your fingers occupied, if not your brain.

A deep role-playing experience this is not.

Some skills allow you to avoid combat entirely, though these opportunities are heavily scripted, so don't go thinking you'll suddenly have a wealth of new choices when you unlock new fart attacks. I admit to cracking a smile every time I burnt an enemy to a crisp by farting onto a nearby open flame, but few such scenarios exhibited mechanical cleverness, so I never felt particularly smart for taking advantage of the possibility. Indeed, if you were to remove the license, The Stick of Truth's shallowness would be achingly apparent, with a journey to the great nation of Canada standing out as the game's shrewdest scenario.

But The Stick of Truth cannot be separated from its license, and it's in its vulgar attitude that it finds redemption. On your Facebook wall, which functions as your in-game menu system, Priest Maxi writes: "I'm glad you found Christ, my son. Be ever vigilant, for He may be found in the unlikeliest of places in the time of need. I found Him in my chimney once." South Park: The Stick of Truth is not the second coming of role-playing games, so if you come seeking Jesus, you'll be disappointed by the veritable second-rate televangelist you find in His place. But it's as funny as the merry tune of Stratford, and more enjoyable than Butters' favorite game, Hello Kitty: Island Adventure.

The Good
Nails the South Park humor and aesthetic
Great writing that doesn't rely on references to the show to be funny
The Bad
Easy, short, and shallow
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

/ Staff

Kevin VanOrd has spent most of his life insisting that he is not fat, but big-boned, and has always looked to Eric Cartman as his primary inspiration. He loves South Park and crude humor, and has played more role-playing games than you can shake a Stick of Truth at. It took him eleven hours to finish the game's story and complete almost every side activity in the game.

Discussion

1390 comments
nicecall
nicecall

I actually thought this was a decent review till i played this game, this game is worthy of at least a 9/10.  Gamespot fails again and this review should be taken down... or I will fart on your balls.


It's funny how kevin vanlorp is posing as a fan... no real fan would give this a score like this.

inso-maniac
inso-maniac

just beat it. hes right its a fun basic game but with tons of funny thrown in that make the journey worth it IMO

KitchMurder
KitchMurder

You guys, 


Kevin is a jew and a hippie. Pay no attention to what he says, This game is a 10, because I'm in it.


- Eric Cartman.

benbonney
benbonney

Kev, I'm sorry this wasnt the Final Fantasy replacment that you so long for, but most people bought this knowing exactly what they were buying, The only problem I have with this game at the moment is the constant loading. The RPG element humours me, and I enjoy the "light" RPG elements over a deep unique mechanic

michaelhuntiii
michaelhuntiii

On other thing that is pretty amazing about this game is the extremely low specs you need to play it. I picked up a $200 Miix 2 Windows tablet from Best Buy and I installed this game on a microSD card and amazingly enough it plays perfectly on that hardware. I was pretty shocked by that. The game looks exactly like the cartoon, I mean exactly, and it moves the same way - but still they did a good job making it scalable. 

michaelhuntiii
michaelhuntiii

The other day after I was about 5 hours into the game I thought this reviewer was pretty stupid and said i'd give this game a 9. Well after a full weekend with this game I think this reviewer should return to smelling his fingers and watching Glee as this is a 10. The game is awesome, in particular if you're a fan of South Park. Tons of side quests, a fantastic story - the fighting system is pretty basic but it does get more complex as you get further into the game - nothing extreme but it's not always easy. 


However if you're a PC moron I can see how you wouldn't like this game as it really mocks everything you hold dear. Basically if you're easily offended you should just get HIV and bleed all over your parents - that's just my suggestion, not in the game.

SpikeBolt
SpikeBolt

I feel bad for the reviewer because he failed to understand the purpose of the game. Every game you play and review should be put into context before scoring it. The Stick of Truth's purpose was not to create refreshing new RPG mechanics or a deep and meaningful story line. It's not meant to be hard but seriously if you wanted a challenge then play on a higher difficulty than "normal". The Stick of Truths true beauty is the immersion experience it creates, you often feel like you are actually in a South Park episode. The graphics, the jokes, the puns, the thousands of well placed and thought references are astonishing. This game is about having FUN, about actually laughing out loud while playing it and it accomplishes it very well.


I agree that the game isn't the longest of games but I feel like it's better off like this, you end the game craving for more but honestly this is how the best games tend to end for me.


Of course that if you don't like South Park you won't like the game, just like if you don't like shooting guns you won't like Call of Duty. Obviously this reviewer didn't enjoy the show very much, though I have friends that didn't care much for the show but absolutely love the game. 


This is the first game based on an animated series that I felt was truly faithful to the series and actually fun to play. If you don't like South Park the reviewer's score is correct because this game's purpose does not suit you. If you appreciate south this game is probably a 9/10 and a must have, even though it's a bit pricier.


I feel bad for the reviewer and for Gamespot for their decreasing quality in the reviews. I thought that The Last of Us review was bad but this one is even worst. Gamespot used to be the best in the business but it seems like the good reviews are in another castle now.

Stu-pendous
Stu-pendous

I feel that it was very wise of the developers to have crafted the game in terms of capturing the franchise essence rather than focusing on the typical stock time that goes into an RPG experience. Even for the staunchest of Southpark fans, a 40+ hour campaign would have been a strain to the comedy. I thoroughly enjoyed the game for what it was: loud, obnoxious, sneakily clever and unabashedly hilarious. Just as I would watching an entire season boxset, actually. For me, I thought that was the intention.

AugmentedFire
AugmentedFire

Proof that game reviewers don't know what they're talking about. It's all about opinion, and GameSpot takes one person's opinion, and basically says it's the only one that matters. Read player reviews, they're much more honest.

adrianjarca
adrianjarca

Kevin seems to forget that the game was advertised as a "lightweight" rpg from the get go. Criticizing it for being shallow when it is marketed as such seems a bit dishonest to me.

Beyond that the written review is ok-ish even though it does leave out certain things (like the technical aspects) but the video-review is very very poor. Worst I've seen from Kevin in a long while. I think Danny would done a much better job reviewing this as it's his brand of humor.

Jasper_73
Jasper_73

This does look fun and i do like southpark. But its short length and easiness will mean ill wait until i see it much cheaper. i  just cant justify spending £40 on an evenings entertainment.

natalieyan
natalieyan

didnt this guy give Resident Evil 6 a 4.0? lol

mirage_so3
mirage_so3

You know as much as I love this game he does have a point on some parts. This game is hilarious and does a great job of making the tv show into a video game. But it is way too easy. The second time I played it I never even came close to dieing.

Aaronp2k
Aaronp2k

this game delivers what it promises. I think it deserved a 7.5 being honest, considering if you buy this game you are going to get exactly what you expected to get. If you do not watch south park then this game is just a watered down final fantasy combined with timed button presses, quicktime events and very watered down puzzle solving. You should steer clear of the game.


If you do watch south park then it truly feels like you are in an episode of south park. And it is a very fun game with amazing characters and voice acting (obviously with trey parker and matt stone doing all the voicing). It has all the hilarious and even disgusting moments you would come to expect from the south park franchise, in fact I believe this game goes one step further than that. Because you are actually involved in the game and these things are going on, it makes them feel even more offensive (which is great if you know the difference between a joke and being serious).


About 75 percent of this game I was laughing so hard I nearly died in the game because I couldn't concentrate, so in a way the comedy actually adds a new mechanic to the game to make it harder. Think baseketball were trey and matt have to psyche out other opponents, I believe they have applied this same technique on their game by making you laugh to psyche you out whether they done it unknowingly or planned on it.


If you love south park, you NEED to get this game.

t3mplesmith
t3mplesmith

It took me about 20 hours to almost have 100% completion.


This is like an interactive episode that involves a lot of button-mashing and a dirty sense of humor. If you don't like South Park than don't play it. I would be surprised to hear if Kevin VanOrd was a fan of the show and that it wasn't effecting his judgement when writing this review, but then I have to remind myself that reviews are simply someones opinion.

dahmc
dahmc

7?! Lol. Somebody at Gamespot didn't get their payola.

shoguntake
shoguntake

I would agree that this game would be worth a 7 if it wasn't for the fact that this site is so inconsistent on review scores that it's flat out pretentious.

Darkhol0w
Darkhol0w

I really enjoyed the game, but if you are not a South Park fan and is offended easily by the content that they show without shame (racism, gore etc) I can understand why you wouldn't like this game.


The overall opinion of the consumers + other critics have this game at an overall 84-86% on Metacritic so I cannot think that the other reviewers+users  are wrong in their professed liking to this game.

downnice95
downnice95

This is the funniest game I have ever played


a 7? What a shock from gamespot

michaelhuntiii
michaelhuntiii

A 7? I've been playing it for a couple of days now and this is more like a 9 even with the criticisms above. Also if you look at the average reader score you can see this reviewer is completely out of touch.


If you're a fan of South Park this game is flat out amazing - it's truly is an interactive version of the TV show - and not in a Sega CD way, in a 2014 way. I bought this game figuring it would be like every other South Park game ever made, a complete disaster. I was very very wrong. This game is tremendous.


Now if your balls haven't dropped or you're a PC piece of trash, please go away and spend your time watching Glee - that's more your speed.


Lord_Python1049
Lord_Python1049

I'm always conflicted when it comes to licensed games... I always like a game more because it has a license I like, but I don't think you should rate it higher. Although I think Kevin wanted the game to work alone... when you have a license like South Park, I don't think you can separate the two otherwise you ignore certain aspects to its genius.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

How can you give a game that hits so close to the mark of getting a licensed game right such a mediocre score?! GameSpot really needs two different type gamer personalities reviewing the same game for a fair perspective. The about the author section may claim Kevin is a South Park fan but I call BS

ChaceDOdell
ChaceDOdell

I usually agree with Vanhord. But I cannot justify a 7 as the rating given to this game. To me it is everything I wanted from a Southpark game. Being a huge fan of the show I loved it dearly. But even if I wasn't a fan of the show. it still would intrigue my taste. But I would also like to note that not everyone is always on their game. Maybe he was having an off day when he made this rating. But if one thing is for sure, this is a must buy for fans and players alike.

komuchen
komuchen

The game is awesome - it actually shows you CAN make a GREAT licensed game. The plot is awesome and everything a fan could want from this game - it's the great "episode" and I was afraid it will be fail like 17th or 15th season, but I was wrong.


Mechanics are ok - they're not revolutionary, but after playing the game, I wouldn't change one thing about it - also, when there was a good RPG with turn-based system? It's better than that Final Fantasy crap. Well, ok I would change one thing, and that is block, and I don't mean block when enemies attack, but before it - maybe I'm too early into the game, but I will give simple example. When you are with Butters, only you have bow, but when enemy gets "counter" and only you have bow, and Butters is out of action points, there is no other way than to get hit with him, wasting your cheesy poofs goodnes.


Also, it's probably easy, because as always on wussspot, reviewer played it on easy just to "get over it", because fights with hobos were pretty demanding. This and Kotaku reviews are the most retarded. Also, if it's easy, then that guy from this garbage written on DK:TF should review it - he could enjoy it.


I don't regret buying it because I've got what I expected from the previews and what I wanted - turn-based RPG with awesome and funny story.

mekentosh
mekentosh

10/10 for me. Don't remember the last time I enjoyed a game this much. Not the mechanics, but the story, jokes, atmosphere and characters.

mister-sandman
mister-sandman

@SpikeBolt ^ 100% this. Its made for the fans of SP and they did a astonishing job. Pretty much everything is well made. It is a GREAT game and a SUPERB adaption of a solid TV serie. If you're not fan of the serie, why in gods name would you review it? Its like me reviewing 'My little pony' game then bash it caus i don't like/understand the concept. Well yeah, the game was never targeting me as their market.


Actually, we need more games like this. Games that aren't only about constantly shooting people up. Though they stole a lot of ideas (and they make enough reference about it), this game still feels unique and is fun to play. It isn't scared to make fun of itself either.

For fans this is a must buy. A excellent game as this doesn't come by that often. 

Only 1 thing i didn't like that much about the game was the anal probe scenes. If i wanted to watch gay porn, i'd go look for it. Now it was in my face and not only adults got probed either =/ which was pretty sickening.

Stu-pendous
Stu-pendous

@adrianjarca The review feels very on-the-fence. I think most fans of the genre who are not fans of Southpark per se knew what to expect with this one; as you say, yourself, the game was never marketed at being an RPG to invest a crapload of time in. I feel as though a reviewer with the same keen sense of humour would have written something a little more engaging about the game.

michaelhuntiii
michaelhuntiii

@Jasper_73  Unless you rush through the game it's not a short game. According to Steam I'm 13 hours in (a number I dispute) and I'm not sure how far along I am in the story but it doesn't feel like it's close to wrapping up yet. In fairness I'm exploring every inch of the game as there is soo much to do here - for example in the woods you can meet the Woodland Critters, I got into the sewers and visited Mr Hankey. These are no parts of the main storyline - these are just extras and well worth doing.


This reviewer I don't think gets this game or why it's fantastic, but if you're a fan of SP there is so much to do in this game, an insane amount.

jesot
jesot

@Aaronp2k  I don't watch South Park and felt the game was nearly perfect for what they were going for and what I expected.  Funniest game I've ever played and one of the funnest RPGs I've ever experienced.

Talk about game mechanics...Link Between Worlds gets praise beyond praise for the wall walking mechanics.  Stick of Truth has a bunch of fun and interesting puzzle-solving mechanics with the shrinking, teleportation, friend commands (under-utilized in the game), ranged shots, and the various farts.  This game is pretty innovative for being a light adventure rpg.

And I wouldn't have wanted the game to be any longer.  I finished in 14 hours per Steam.  Some of that time is idle from pooping and doing other things with the game running.  I felt the game ran its course in an ideal amount of time.  DLC or an expansion down the road might be cool, but I felt properly sated when the game ended.

bloodraven951
bloodraven951

@michaelhuntiii  PC guy here...just finished it today, and I LOVED every second. Would be playing it again this week with a new class if it wasn't for Titanfall on Tuesday.

Zevvion
Zevvion

@michaelhuntiii  Don't worry. The next time Kevin gives his mom a hug and everlasting love surges through his heart, he will realize he made a mistake.

Aaronp2k
Aaronp2k

@Gravity_Slave  they give thief a worse rating, and thief is an incredible game. these so called ai bugs are nowhere to be seen, I find the ai to be very responsive on my game. I literally popped out from behind a crate for a split second an got spotted instantly. extremely hard stealth game, have to be very strategic and avoid combat at all costs. the combat sucks, but what do you expect from a game which is all about stealth.


I think gamespot has become very unreliable for reviews lately. I am actually debating whether or not I should pick up killzone now.

kadatherion
kadatherion

@Gravity_Slave  It's easy to do, really, to give this game "only" a good score you only require to be immune from fanboyism. 

Actually, the real issue at hand is how it's become customary to give outrageously high scores to pretty much everything that doesn't completely suck, as if any simply "good" game has to be called a masterpiece. We've come to the point any rating lower than 8 is somehow equivalent to saying that a game is shit. Which pretty much makes giving scores totally useless, we'd be better off just giving a "good" or "bad" badge. 

jesot
jesot

@komuchen  The game is harder toward the beginning than it is toward the end.  You become really powerful and learn how to take advantage of the mechanics.

lithus
lithus

And TSoT is not mediocre. Hence everyone's point of outrage

lithus
lithus

I partially agree. But in this case, they hit the mark with a licensed game. The fact that the reviewer expected something deep from South Park says it all. Rate the game, not every other game that came before it by comparison.

Synxos
Synxos

@kadatherion @Gravity_Slave Complaining about fanboyism, then defending gamespot reviews like a fanboy.  Classic!  

The fact is this game is great, and the review is very poor.  It has misleading information.  It also fails to mention some very important things about the game, i.e. the attention to detail in the game is astounding.  Kevin doesn't even mention the level of detail. 

lithus
lithus

@Silverline62

Funny, you just described your mother. If you actually had a sense of humor and ACTUALLY played this game, you'd be on your own little soap box crying foul. How's that for short and easy ya little twit?

kadatherion
kadatherion

@dynasty919 That's some great logic here: 


A) I believe reviewer X has rated game Y too high, thus
B) from now on he will have to rate everything else even higher, because
C) two (or even more) errors make things right. Somehow. It's magic, I don't have to explain shit.

How come a wrong review (assuming it is, never played AC3 so I can only trust what YOU say) could become the standard from which further reviews should adjust their ratings? Are you retarded or what? 

kadatherion
kadatherion

@Synxos And where exactly was I "defending gamespot reviews", like a fanboy, too? For what I'm concerned, you can write something merely (and blatantly) good is an unmatched masterpiece on your bathroom mirror (just next to that "welcome to the world of AIDS" scribble) instead of here or anywhere else, I'll still call you an idiotic fanboy.

If it makes you feel better, Kevin also mentions some "
great writing that doesn't rely on references to the show to be funny" about a script that basically is the polar opposite of it, pure self referential fanservice (not that it had to be anything else for such a product), so I guess that makes it even regarding this neglected attention to detail (which, btw, means... what, exactly?). Rejoice! 

South Park: The Stick of Truth

  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
  • PC
South Park: The Stick of Truth is an epic role-playing adventure that will allow the user to befriend Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny and explore the quiet little mountain town like never before.
ESRB
Mature
All Platforms
Check out even more info at the South Park: The Stick of Truth Wiki on Giantbomb.com